A young man and woman are on a train when another woman suddenly become ill. She slumps to the floor and someone shouts, “Is anyone here a doctor?” When no one else responds, the young woman (whose necklace spells out “Mia”) says she’s a medical student and goes over to help. Before she can figure out what’s wrong, another passenger falls ill, then another, then another, then everyone else in the train car, including the young man Mia was with. That’s a pretty good opening scene, and it sucked me right into “Biohackers,” a German TV series now playing on Netflix with English subtitles.
From there, the first episode flashes back two weeks to Mia showing up at medical school in Freiburg, where she’s enrolled in an advanced biology class taught by Dr. Tanya Lorenz, a brilliant scientist whose work is on the leading edge of gene-editing. To gain more access to Lorenz, Mia befriends her teaching assistant, Jasper (and his florescent green mouse), and begins a romantic relationship with him. Once inside Lorenz’s laboratory and operation, she figures out that some things are amiss. Meanwhile, we’re introduced to Mia’s roommates Lotta, Ole, and Chen-Lu, who are all involved in underground genetic experiments of one kind or another (e.g. glowing plants).
The dialogue in “Biohackers” is dense with technical terminology, but you don’t need a degree in biology or any other science to understand what’s going on. Fortunately, there are sequences of pure goofiness (usually involving Ole, who experiments on his own body) amidst the drama, which builds from that opening scene right through the season finale in episode six, as the intentions of both Mia and Lorenz become clearer.
I was enthralled enough by “Biohackers” to give its first season an 8 out of 10, and hope there’s a second.