Looking for a thrilling new series to keep you entertained during these cold January nights? Apple TV+’s “Surface” should fit the bill. The gripping psychological mystery, which debuted last July and was just renewed for a second season, follows wealthy British expat/San Francisco denizen Sophie Ellis (Gugu Mbatha-Raw of “The Morning Show” fame), who finds herself suffering from amnesia following a jump from a local ferry in what is believed to have been a suicide attempt. Struggling to return to normalcy in the aftermath, she discovers that, while her life appears perfect from the outside, with a dream husband, a dream house, a closet full of designer clothes and all the money in the world, things aren’t exactly as they seem. Dark, captivating and full of twists and turns, in the end, Sophie herself proves to be the biggest mystery of all.
In the same vein as HBO’s 2020 hit “The Undoing,” the series also features some serious eye candy by way of its locations. The New Yorker’s Rachel Syme notes, “‘Surface’ isn’t breaking any new ground, but it does provide a pretty, gleamy veneer to gaze upon while the mystery unfolds.”
Although set in San Francisco, with the city almost serving as a main character, creator/executive producer Veronica West (who was also behind Hulu’s television adaptation of “High Fidelity”) initially envisioned the story taking place in England. She tells Slash Film, “The original spec script that I wrote was set in London and Sophie was American because I always thought there was something very interesting about crossing overseas to escape your past. What would have to go so wrong that you were willing to make that leap? But when Gugu came on board, we thought it would be so interesting for her to play British — people were saying this show feels like a throwback to noir, and San Francisco, with the ‘Vertigo’ connection and that timeless classic mystery that the city has. It has a soulfulness that some other major cities don’t. So having Sophie play British in San Francisco just all came together.”
Despite SF figuring at the center of the tale, with its foggy aesthetic enhancing the storyline and overall look immensely, filming primarily took place 1,000 miles away in Vancouver, British Columbia. The cast and crew only descended upon the City by the Bay for a brief week at the end of the shoot to capture a handful of segments at iconic spots like Union Square’s Palace Hotel, the Palace of Fine Arts in the Marina District and along the 600 block of Haight Street, where Sophie goes for a jog in episode one, “Ictus.”