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Series / Charlie Jade

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Three worlds. One Hope.

Charlie Jade (2005) is a noir-esque Science Fiction mystery series from South Africa centered on a private eye trying to discover who is a woman's murderer, only to get thrown into an alternate reality. It gets more complicated from there.

Tropes in this series include:

  • Afrofuturism: The series involves three different universes in its storyline. One of them, the "Alphaverse", is dystopian and completely cyberpunk, including lots of rain. Its counterpoint is the ecotopian "Gammaverse" (unpolluted, but rife with political corruption and social engineering). The neutral one is the "Betaverse", which is our own early 21st century world. The whole series takes place in the Cape Town region and very little info about the rest of the world is ever given. According to the series' script, both the Alphaverse and Gammaverse are supposedly alternate histories of the Betaverse, with a divergence occurring shortly after WWII or during the early Cold War period.
  • Aliens in Cardiff: The series takes place in three alternate universe versions - one dystopian, one ecotopian and one normal - of Cape Town, South Africa.
  • Ax-Crazy: 01 Boxer, at least in the Betaverse, and arguably the Alphaverse. He seems to manifest a different personality in each world; in the Gammaverse he's a loving husband who is horrified at what he becomes in the other two universes.
  • Apocalypse How Class X-4: A side-effect of Vexcor's plan to steal water from a parallel Earth would have been the destruction of a third universe (ours, incidentally).
  • Color Wash: The series uses a different colour wash depending on which dimension you're currently watching. Alpha is green, Beta is Blue and Gamma is red.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Vexcor's Essa Rompkin and Brion Boxer, the Big Bads. As heads of an above the law Mega-Corp, bribery and having people killed are child's play for them. The really impressive bits are Boxer's plan to steal the water from a parallel earth to replenish the one his company's polluted, a process which will destroy a third universe as a side-effect, or how, to rejuvenate the decrepit Boxer, Essa calls employees up to her office and forces them on the spot to consent — under the threat that they and their family will almost certainly be condemned to poverty if they refuse — to a fatal medical procedure wherein Boxer essentially drains the life out of them.
  • Cyberpunk: The Alphaverse. And it gets worse; there's no rebellion there, just the cruel fact that Dystopia Is Hard, which means the corporate-run state is on the verge of collapse in ways that make an apocalypse almost welcome. Had the show not been cancelled, that's what would have happened at the end of Season 2.
  • Dystopia: The Alphaverse is a corrupt megacorp-dominated plutocracy where chip implants are mandatory, people are divided into castes, justice is an illusion, and pollution and depletion of natural resources are so ridiculously high that the dominant megacorp plans to use its trans-universe link to steal water from a utopian parallel Earth.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: Goal: Get back to his home dimension. Achieved, but soon he has to leave to stop the Big Bad's plot, which as far as he knows requires a Heroic Sacrifice. The series' last scene before cancellation reveals that he survived after all.
  • Gaia's Lament: The basic state of the Alphaverse.
  • Hardboiled Detective: Charlie is an homage to the older Chandler/Hammett style of hardboiled detective. He even sports the classic trenchcoat (though no fedora), and uses the Private Eye Monologue.
  • Literal Surveillance Bug: Flying robotic bugs were used by Mega-Corp Vex-Cor.
  • Ludd Was Right: The Alphaverse is far more technically advanced than our universe (the Betaverse); it's also severely polluted, run by corrupt corporations instead of governments, and is built on a caste system where the lowest class is considered property. A rather more subtle example, as not everyone who travels from Alpha to Beta prefers the latter. One scientist assigned to the Betaverse is disgusted by the crudity of cancer treatment, implying it's easily curable in her universe, and Charlie himself spends much of the series unimpressed by Beta and trying to get home to Alpha, which he describes as "Some place just like this, only better. And much worse."
  • Mega-Corp: Vex-Cor in is the largest and most prominent of the five Mega Corps that run the Dystopian parallel world the protagonist is from.
  • The Multiverse: Three separate universes are shown to exist. The show reveals that the hallucinations Charlie has suffered all his life are actually visions of other universes. The cliffhanger season finale (after which the show didn't get renewed) revealed a fourth universe, which is apparently where the Men in Grey Suits come from.
  • Protagonist Title