JL50 takes off with promise, but lands on an unimaginative note.

JL 50 begins with a plane getting hijacked, while another (the eponymous JL 50) crashes in a remote village in West Bengal. As we had gathered from the intriguing trailer, the twist here being the latter had taken off 35 years ago! It’s with this ambitious premise that the SonyLIV exclusive series lured me in. The case of the crashed plane is assigned to CBI’s Shantanu (Abhay Deol) and his partner, played by Rajesh Sharma, in an endearingly familiar role.

The 4-episode mini-series does take off on a promising note, with the first 2 episodes raising a lot of intriguing questions. But unfortunately, the answers we get are so poorly concocted, including an unnecessary segue to 256 BC to Ashoka the Great, an unimaginative and recurring theme for Indian conspiracy buffs. We are given a messy theory involving 9 books (we don’t even hear what each one is), except that one is about time travel, while another supposedly contains blueprints for UFOs. Cue the eyeroll and slow shaking of head.

JL 50‘s budget constraints are made abundantly clear quite a few times, including a poorly conceived car chase and the actual ‘time travel’ itself. The show uses the beaten-to-death trope of a character explaining time travel (a la Interstellar) by folding a sheet of paper to illustrate the theory of an Einstein-Rosen Bridge, and then demonstrating a metaphorical wormhole by stabbing a pen through the folded paper.

Considering how well India fans acquainted themselves with the mind-bending Netflix sci-fi show Dark, JL 50 does us a disservice by making the plot all too convenient and dumbed down. Characters make decisions purely to drive the plot forward. There is a thoroughly underwhelming gunfight at a warehouse, when Abhay Deol (who doesn’t seem to have gotten the memo about the PUBG ban), plays a live-action 1v4 shooting game. JL 50 packs some smart, albeit predictable twists at the end, but it does nothing to save the ambitious series from a bumpy landing.