Netflix has distinguished itself in three years as a purveyor of serious, quality programming for grownups with shows such as House of Cards, Orange is the New Black and Bloodline.
This year Netflix has been expanding its reach by going after younger viewers first with the comic book adventure Marvel's Daredevil which premiered last month and now with its YA offering, Between, a sci-fi thriller for the 21-and-under set that has the slick sex appeal of a CW fantasy and the brains of an HBO classic.
The first episode was posted Friday, May 22.
Created by Canadian filmmaker Michael McGowan (Still Mine, Score: A Hockey Musical) who co-directed the first season's six episodes with Jon Cassar (24: Live Another Day, Nikkita, Continuum), Between is about a small town named Pretty Lake which is overtaken by a mysterious deadly disease.
Is it viral? Bacterial? Is it contagious?
No one seems to know. Netflix is keeping mum. The service, which usually posts all episodes of a new show on the same day, plans to maintain the suspense by releasing only one episode per week.
It's a clever move. While Between is a somewhat derivative creature that's not likely to rewrite the rules of the genre, the first episode (the only one made available to critics) sucks you right in with its intriguing premise and exciting action.
The Pretty Lake disease strikes suddenly. And it's virulent: In only 10 days, it kills more than 3,400 of the town's 8,000 inhabitants. The disease only affects people who are 22 and older. The stage is set for a story that'll be told only through the eyes of teenagers.
The government takes preemptive action. The military erects a barbed wire fence and announces anyone who tries to leave town will be shot.
Between features a winning set of characters drawn from levels of the social ladder. Gord (Ryan Allen), the son of a poor dairy farmer, dreams of joining Special Forces and seeing the world.
"I probably won't even see combat," he tells his little sister, Frances (Shailyn Pierre-Dixon), a pint-sized smart alec.
"That's what all the amputees say," she says.
Ronnie (Kyle Mac) who sells dope to fellow high school students sees the quarantine as an opportunity to sow the seeds of anarchy.
Our two leads, both top students who have been accepted to MIT, undergo momentous changes in the episode.
Pastor's daughter, Wiley Day (iCarly Jennette McCurdy), is pregnant and has decided to give away her baby. The quarantine may force her to raise it herself.
Her BFF Adam (Jesse Carere) is a hacker who begins to uncover dirty secrets about the government and its plans for the town. The episode opens with a shot of him trying to escape town as a hail of bullets rains down on him.
Between has a premise that'll be all too familiar to fans of the American sci-fi actioner Jeremiah and New Zealand's cult hit, The Tribe - both were set in an post-apocalyptic world where all the adults had died.
McGowan isn't shy about borrowing heavily from these and several other shows, including Stephen King's Under the Dome, about a town totally cut off from the rest of the world.
Yet, the filmmaker manages to keep the show fresh, in large part because of the vivid characters we meet in the opening episode.
It's too early to tell where Between will take us. But it's off to a great start.