Anyone who remembers Black Mirror: Bandersnatch must know how creative Netflix can be when some shows involve viewer interaction. In that series, viewers could make any choice in multiple scenarios, and their choice affected the ending. But what happens if the episodes of a TV series can be watched in any sequence viewers want? What if heist dramas have this unique kind of approach?
Netflix already had huge success with the Spanish heist drama Money Heist, so they used the sequence trick on Kaleidoscope's latest heist drama.
This series consists of eight episodes, each named according to rainbow colours: from violet to red. Viewers can watch the episodes in any order, except 'White', the season finale. Thus, Kaleidoscope can be watched in a staggering 5040 combinations, making the show unique.
If the show is watched in its original order, it explores the story of Leo Pap or Ray Vernon (played by Giancarlo Esposito), a seasoned bank robber and the showrunner. Like Money Heist, he organises a team of misfits where every member has different skills. The team plans to rob 7 billion dollars and retire from criminal life once and for all. But the story is not so simple yet easy to anticipate.
What Kaleidoscope lacks is the originality and development of the characters. The heist plot is very similar to Money Heist: heist crew members betray and conspire against each other for selfish motives, ultimately botching the heist. Moreover, the key law enforcement characters seem to empathise with the criminals, just like in Money Heist.
As the episodes can be watched in any order, there will be different viewing experiences depending on the order. Some episode orders can introduce flashbacks within, before, or after the main story; others can make the story anticlimactic and monotonous. It's up to the audience to decide how they want to enjoy the series, but this intriguing gimmick ultimately harms the story's development.
The characters are complex; the cast acted them masterfully, and they have the potential to develop more in the story, but they simply lack the chance to execute it. The sequence trick gives no time for the characters to be explored, and it's evident to the naked eye.
Despite having a great cast, Kaleidoscope is a heist drama with no ingenuity and poor direction.
Netflix deserves some praise for coming up with this show at the beginning of 2023 with this lavish approach to storytelling, but the show would have been more enjoyable with a linear storyline approach.