First impressions with Amazon Prime’s UPLOAD

Upload (Amazon Prime Video)

The full first season of Upload is available to stream now via the Amazon Prime Video service globally.

So just as the UK was heading in pandemic lockdown we got our hands on some pre-release episode of Amazon Prime Video’s latest original comedy series Upload.

The series stars Robbie Amell (The Flash) and comes from the mind of US comedy genius Greg Daniels (The Office, Parks & Rec) And centres on Amell’s character Nathan, a coder who is unfortunately killed in a car accident and finds his conscious uploaded in to a new digital afterlife. But there’s a mystery bubbling under the surface which adds a new dimension to proceedings as the season unfolds.

Upload features some great performances from Amell and scene partner Andy Allo who plays Nora. Nora works as an “Angel” for the company running the digital afterlife where Nathan no finds himself. The series shifts between Nora being a voice in Nathan’s ear to a physical avatar who inhabits the world of Lakeview to assist in his acclimatisation to the afterlife.

The series is underpinned by a mystery surrounding the death of Nathan as it quickly transpires that his car accident may not have been all that it seems. It’s this additional layer of dramatic content which sets Upload apart from Greg Daniel’s other recent TV fare. Whilst the plot does take a little while to come together it’s still a rewarding watch as Nathan’s cousin begins to investigate what really happened.

Early episodes in the season were reminiscent of watching the hugely addictive SyFy series Eureka. The two series share a similar comedic sensibility about science fiction and heightened reality tropes though Upload presents itself more like a live action experiment with The Sims. Really all that is missing is the green gem floating over the characters in Lakeview.

It’s clear from the outset that Daniels and executive producing partner Howard Klein spent a lot of time developing the world of Upload before heading in to production. The opening scene sets out the real world of the series with ease by showing off video advertising board on packed trains alongside body modification tech. I have to applaud the team for including a nice nod to 50 First Dates in this scene too.

There’s nothing heavy handed about how Upload informs the viewers about the differences between this world and our own. Instead the measured approached teams well with the more heavy handed comedic aspects of the show.

The versions which we saw prior to release feature some unfinished effects. But having found myself falling for the world of Upload, I immediately went back to rewatch them once the series hit the Prime platform. The final version of episode one, in particular, feels much sharper and more polished.

Visual effects are on par with other comedy series, they feel a little computer game-y at times but the point of this show isn’t to amaze the audience with striking cinematography and flashy, expensive effects. Instead a show like Upload is simply trying to bring a little light entertainment in to our lives and this first season certainly does that with ease.

The success of the show is in no small part down to a brilliant supporting cast. Kevin Bigley’s Luke, another inhabitant of Lakeview’s afterlife is by far a highlight. His haphazard manner of living life in the digital world is brilliantly summed up by the hack he uses to get breakfast rolls when he inevitably misses the buffet. When he, Nathan and perpetual tween Dylan (Rhys Slack) go to the Grey Market in episode four it is easily one of the highlights of the first half of the season.

Allegra Edwards as Ingrid, the not at all bereft girlfriend of Nathan, is also inspired casting. It’s nigh on impossible to like her but so easy to laugh at the ridiculousness of how she approaches life. Her family, not short of a penny, funds Nathan’s afterlife meaning she quite literally owns him and isn’t afraid to make sure he knows it.

The entire situation is one giant platform to propel her towards some kind of pseudo-celebrity lifestyle but also makes for some of the serious most laugh-out-loud moments. A sex wetsuit? Whoever came up with that idea needs to share their thought process.

Whilst the first half of the season is a little clunky it’s all about allowing Upload to find its feet. This is a series which isn’t the straight up comedy we have come to expect from Daniels and if you give it and its characters a change there’s a lot to enjoy here.

An Amazon Original, Upload is a ten-episode sci-fi comedy series starring Robbie Amell, Andy Allo, Kevin Bigley, Allegra Edwards, and Zainab Johnson. The series was created by Greg Daniels who also serves as executive producer along with Howard Klein.  

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By Neil Vagg

Neil is the GYCO Editorial Chief. He has a BA in Film & TV and an MA in Scriptwriting; he currently works 9-5 as an office manager and 5-9 as a reviewer/web designer. He has been subscribing to comics for around nine years but has been reading them as long as he can remember. Favourite comics: Batman; Nightwing, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and All New X-Men Favourite films: Batman (any apart from & Robin); Star Trek Generations, Underworld, Beetlejuice Favourite TV shows: Fringe; Buffy, Arrow, TBBT, Being Human UK and Star Trek TNG