Jess Hong (left) as Jin Cheng, John Bradley as Jack...

 Jess Hong (left) as Jin Cheng, John Bradley as Jack Rooney in  Netflix's "3 Body Problem." Credit: Netflix/Ed Miller

SERIES “3 Body Problem”

WHERE Streaming on Netflix

WHAT IT'S ABOUT Scientists from around the world are dying, and five brilliant physicists at Oxford — AKA the Oxford Five — naturally want to know why. Just as they start asking questions, a few of them get a mysterious virtual reality headset which takes them on mind-blowing trips to other realms where they are forced to solve the 3-body problem. (A 3-body problem, you ask? Oy: It's attempting to solve for the position and velocity of three astral bodies caught in their own gravitational pull.)

Soon, the O Five — Jin (Jess Hong), Saul (Jovan Adepo), Auggie (Eiza González), Jack (John Bradley) and Will (Alex Sharp) — figure out what's going on: The San-Ti, extraterrestrials from four light years away, are coming to invade Earth, and they've got Earthlings helping them, notably physicist Ye Wenjie (Rosalind Chao) and oil tycoon Mike Evans (Jonathan Pryce). A pair of top-level British intelligence operatives, Da Shi (Benedict Wong) and Wade (Liam Cunningham) start prepping for the invasion — which won't happen for another 400 years.

“Game of Thrones” executive producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss — along with veteran TV producer Alexander Woo — have adapted this eight-parter from the first novel of Liu Cixin's 2006-10 trilogy, “Remembrance of Earth's Past.”

MY SAY Science fiction fans are probably familiar with Cixin's “dark forest,” which holds that we Earthlings haven't heard from any alien races because they're all hiding, like chipmunks under a log (in a dark forest). They're in hiding lest they come in contact with a much more advanced civilization which will naturally destroy them (think hawk on a branch hunting chipmunks). We Earthlings are chipmunks, too, albeit particularly noisy ones. That's the premise of “3 Body Problem”: We've simply been chattering away too much.

Yes indeed, the guys who produced “Game of Thrones” have gone about as far in the opposite direction as they possibly could for this next TV collaboration. There are some callbacks in the form of actors who played fan favorites in “GOT,” notably Pryce (High Sparrow), Cunningham (Davos Seaworth) and Bradley (Samwell Tarly). Like “GOT,” there's too much gratuitous violence. And to push comparisons a bit further, the San-Ti are sort of like the White Walkers: clever, ruthless, ice cold and humorless.

Otherwise, this is a whole new world for Benioff and Weiss, which they navigate smoothly for the most part and with considerable showmanship. As with any sci-fi, there's the occasional ellipsis in logic, and the goofy faux-science explanation, invention and rationale (which is why it's called science fiction). “3 Body” dips a little bit into quantum physics, but not too far, in the event that our heads might explode and maybe theirs too.

All in all, this is easy, seamless sci-fi that advertises its meta-message in big bold neon letters: We humans might not even be around in 400 years when the San-Ti get here, after AI, global warming and whatever other apocalyptic mischief we can hatch in the meantime gets through with us.

But you don't come to “3 Body” for the message, “dark forests,” or callbacks. You come for the show, and there's more than enough of that.

The first five episodes are best, with their show-within-a-show structure, specifically those San-Ti virtual reality headsets that Mark Zuckerberg would give half his kingdom for. They're a portal into a whole other world, with its own set of narrative rules, and even the occasional flash of humor. Mostly they're just fun. “3 Body” noticeably sags when the San-Ti no longer deploy them (although one does reappear in a closing scene of this first season).

This is the first season, and who knows how many more, but like “GOT,” the showrunners do at least get this one right.

BOTTOM LINE Visually spectacular and a good cast — Wong in particular.

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