‘Archive 81’ Review: Netflix’s Time-Hopping Mystery Is Loaded with Unnecessary Obstacles

‘Archive 81’ Review: Netflix’s Time-Hopping Mystery Is Loaded with Unnecessary Obstacles

“Archive 81” is a show that invites, almost demands, constant skepticism. There’s a certain kind of simmering paranoia that runs through this new Netflix series, boiling so clearly that it’s almost impossible to take anything at face value. To a certain extent, that’s the point. In setting up a story about an unassuming archivist who agrees to restore a series of camcorder tapes from the mid-’90s, it’s inevitable that what seems like a simple task will give way to something larger and more unwieldy. What makes “Archive 81” such a perplexing viewing experience is how it takes some wild, generation-spanning ideas and strips them down to a pedestrian presentation that robs it of its otherworldly power. The first few minutes of the show — after a quick context-free cold open, …
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