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TV review: 'Russian Doll' Season 2 covers new ground in funny, poignant sci-fi

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TV review: 'Russian Doll' Season 2 covers new ground in funny, poignant sci-fi
Nadia (Natasha Lyonne) goes back in time in "Russian Doll" Season 2. Photo courtesy of Netflix

LOS ANGELES, April 13 (UPI) -- Russian Doll Season 1 presented a Groundhog Day-style time loop story. Season 2, premiering April 20, offers a more vast time travel story with the same irreverent and poignant Russian Doll style.

Nadia (Natasha Lyonne) once again is living her life in chronological order, and so is her time-looping friend, Alan (Charlie Barnett). But, not for long. Nadia gets on the New York City subway in 2022 and exits in 1982.

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Nadia uses the subway to travel back and forth, attempting to solve a mystery she hopes will save her family. Russian Doll Season 2 sets up new rules for time travel because this has more butterfly effect consequences than reliving Nadia's birthday every time she dies in Season 1.

Time-sensitive objects don't transfer back and forth. This solves the cell phone question, as it disappears when Nadia goes to 1982. She also can't bring 1982 objects to the present with her.

The time travel parameters get more complicated the further along the season goes. Alan's adventures in the past, in particular, open him to new possibilities as a character he wouldn't have discovered in the present.

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Nadia follows clues in the past and present to try to track down a treasure her family lost sometime along the 40 years. She may learn things in the past that can guide her in the future, or go back to the past to try to fix something.

Along the way, Nadia hashes out some of her family's dysfunctional drama. She gets to stand up to her grandmother while she is in 1982.

Nadia's hopes are that the recovered money can pay for adoptive mother Ruth's (Elizabeth Ashley) medical treatments in the present. But, every time she thinks she's solved the problem, the space-time continuum has a way of creating new ones.

Lyonne goes through the past and present with the same sarcastic whimsey audiences love about her. Sicking Nadia on the people of 1982 gives Lyonne new foils, but no one is a match for her.

Time travel was a clever way to keep Russian Doll Season 2 in the same milieu, while trying something different. Season 3 will have to go into the future or into space to really explore everything science fiction has to offer.

Fred Topel, who attended film school at Ithaca College, is a UPI entertainment writer based in Los Angeles. He has been a professional film critic since 1999, a Rotten Tomatoes critic since 2001 and a member of the Television Critics Association since 2012. Read more of his work in Entertainment.

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