(CNN)“The One” takes an enticing idea –what would happen if everyone could be romantically paired with their perfect match by DNA? — and squanders that by turning it into a mundane mystery. It’s not bad, as Netflix’s British binges go, but nor does the eight-episode run foster much of a love connection.
The most interesting aspect of “The One” might actually be its own DNA, since the series is based on John Marrs’ 2017 novel, but actually follows “Soulmates,” an AMC anthology sci-fi-inflected series focusing on individual stories about such matches and their fallout. While there was muttering about the latter cloning the premise, its approach actually proved more engaging in terms of the intellectual aspects of this 15-minutes-in-the-future concept.
Instead, “The One” works backward from the fabulously wealthy founder of this modern miracle, Rebecca (Hannah Ware), who is introduced giving a kind of TED talk, embodying a life that’s equal parts Jeff Bezos and Oprah Winfrey. Rebecca speaks enthusiastically about providing people with a match that they are “genetically guaranteed to fall in love with,” noting in a flashback during a later episode, “This will change relationships and dating forever.”
The implications of that, however, are somewhat lost in the discovery of a body in the Thames, which happens to have been one of Rebecca’s early associates. Through a series of flashbacks, series creator Howard Overman (whose credits include “Future Man” and “The Misfits”) peels back what happened — and all the ruthless things that Rebecca might have done to protect her budding empire — as a detective (Zoë Tapper) pries into the case and her secrets.
Sprinkled throughout, meanwhile, are individual lives impacted by this technology, including a happy couple that risks having all that upended by the realization they aren’t each other’s genetically destined partners.
“The One” thus feels like several different stories in one, none of them wholly satisfying, wasting time on a mystery that’s considerably less provocative — or timely — than the better-loving-through-chemistry element at its core.
As noted, there is something fairly profound and potentially earthshaking about the notion that the unending quest for love can be simply answered with information in a strand of hair, but “The One” periodically loses sight of that in emphasizing its crime/caper components.
Thanks to the attraction of a Netflix showcase, this show will likely be watched by plenty of people who have never seen “Soulmates.” But in a two-horse race of DNA-dating dramas, “The One” conspicuously finishes second.
“The One” premieres March 12 on Netflix.