You can’t go wrong with a project helmed by Academy Award winners Sissy Spacek and JK Simmons – and they deliver the goods in ‘Night Sky,’ a gripping eight-episode sci-fi series that premieres on September 20. Premiered on Prime Video in May.
You play Irene and Franklin York, a couple in their 70s pottering around in their spacious, comfortable home in the semi-rural town of Farnsworth, Illinois. We know from an opening recap that it was love at first sight when they met at a local bar as young adults, and nothing has changed: They still have a crush — Franklin is nurturing Irene, a retired English teacher, while they meet recovering from a fall, and Irene worries about Franklin’s health, particularly his increasing memory lapses (making him frustrated but droll about his situation). They still mourn the loss of their son Michael and often retreat to his room for comfort.
And…they’re harboring a huge secret: The ramshackle, untidy shed in their backyard leads to an underground chamber that transports them to a rocky planet light-years from Earth – where they sit and gaze out at the wonders of outer space from a giant window observe from the comfort of their armchairs… and maybe have a cup of coffee or read a magazine. There’s a door to the “other side,” but they never use it, not after Franklin opened it once and let some mice outside (it didn’t end well for the critters).
Her late-night visits to the shed to “go to the stars” (“896 times,” according to Franklin) pique the interest of her nosy new neighbor Byron Albermarle (Adam Barley) – an unctuous way that rubs almost everyone the wrong way; He contacts her college-age granddaughter Denise (Kiah McKirnan) via Facebook and expresses his concern about her behavior. She pays Franklin a surprise visit and tells him it’s time for her to move into an assisted living facility (which he says isn’t happening). The situation takes a turn when Irene kills an unconscious bearded young man, Jew (Chai Hansen), lying on the floor on the “other side” of the chamber.
Meanwhile, in a remote town in Argentina, we meet the Calderons, mother Stella (Julieta Zylberberg) and her 15-year-old daughter Toni (Rocio Herndanez), who can’t understand why her mother is so dedicated to their backyard church. There are good reasons for this, both divine and otherworldly: Stella hides the fact that, like the Yorks’ Illinois shed, the church has an underground chamber that holds its own otherworldly secrets.
And where does Jude fit into the puzzle?
“Night Sky” is a gripping series with an interesting premise that marches to its own drummer in terms of its pacing and plot reveals, courtesy of writer/co-producer Holden Miller (son of comedians Dennis Miller and Ali Espley). Spacek and Simmons are great and have nice onscreen chemistry; You can believe that Irene and Franklin are genuinely devoted to each other, whatever the circumstances, and they will be put through their paces as the series ventures further into what lies beneath — or, in this case, what “there.” outside” in the universe.