SONA, created by and starring Ashley Clements (The Lizzie Bennet Diaries), is a charming futuristic sci-fi passion project. Through Kickstarter, Clements and co-star and director, Brendan Bradley, raised more than $30,000 to fund this 8-episode web series. Though riddled with obvious flaws, the process to achieve this production and the drive behind the endeavor make it so I don’t even care to give any short comings much attention.
Lieutenant Belyn Sona (Clements), a United Earth Space Corps officer, is forced into a malfunctioning escape pod as her ship blows up behind her. With all signals down and no way to reach out for help, Sona is defeated and we watch as she reflects on how she got to this very moment. She flashbacks to her time on Earth with her alien husband (Bradley), a telepathic Kolari, who looks like he was doused in silver spray paint, diamond Styrofoam cutouts, and has a The Shape of Water fish ear aesthetic. With the unwavering help of Wil Wheaton, we witness how Kolari on Earth are treated- unwelcomed and as second-class citizens. As the Kolari are being hunt down and deported, Sona must choose between her home planet and her husband.
A strong theme in SONA is isolation and its effects on one’s mental health. Trapped in an escape pod with no hope of rescue for at least three weeks, Sona starts to go “crazy” with depression. Honestly, it’s not very convincing or even compelling, but to be fair after watching a few episodes of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, the acting checks out and reminds you that this is Clements’ passion project and does a good job for what she is working with.
If anything stands out though, it’s the celestial x-file theme song and the relationship between human and Kolari. Sona and her husband explore the differences in intimacy between the two species, which provides an interesting plot point that with more episodes could be further fleshed out. Each episode is only about 6 minutes long so plot points with a lot of potential are highly prone to falling flat but who knows what the future of the show will bring us.
SONA is a low budget series and you learn during the credits of the first episode what went into this production. Clements and Bradley spent three weeks by themselves building the pod in a living room space out of wood, foam, and vinyl car wrap. On their Kickstarter page, they lay out their “Stretch Goals” to pin point what each fundraiser goal can accomplish such as sound design, animation, celebrity cameo, full feature screenplay with concept art, etc. Since my viewing, Wil Wheaton’s presence is the stretch goal they have reached so far. Graphic novels and a feature film will have to wait for a few more shekels.
Unfortunately, if you are interested in seeing this series it will only be available on Alpha, an online T.V. show platform that requires a paid subscription but the first month is free. Clements is quoted to have said that this show is “a testament for anyone facing limitations, creative or otherwise- make something that matters to you, and it will speak to others.” I could see this sentiment reflected in SONA, so for what that’s worth I recommend others to give it a chance too and then maybe it can bloom into something more fine-tuned.
New members can use the promo code (SPACE) for a 60-day free trial of Alpha at projectalpha.com.