Monday, July 14, 2014

The Strain: Season 1, Episode 1

The Strain
Episode Title:  "Night Zero"
Channel:  FX
Director:  Guillermo Del Toro
Writers:  Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan
Genre:  Drama, Sci-Fi, Horror
Runtime:  60 min
Rated:  TV-MA
Original Air Date:  July 13, 2014

The premiere episode of FX's new series The Strain both delivered and failed to deliver at the same time.  I felt that they set the situation up well, the show was tense when it was supposed to be, and brutal when it needed to be.  There's a specific scene where I imagine the audience who haven't read the book almost groaned to themselves and said, "Really?  More vampires on TV?"  They were then reminded that these are not Stephanie Meyer's vampires.  They don't sparkle, they don't attend balls, and they don't covet that one perfect meal.  They feed and kill; not since 30 Days of Night do I recall vampires perpetrating that kind of violence.

I really liked David Bradley as Abraham Setrakian, I felt like he was making the scenes he was in better, just by virtue of being there.  I also like that although there are many departures from the vampire literature that we grew up on there are little familiar things there too.  The concept of Renfields seems to be alive and well and the show already has its Van Helsing character.

On the negative side; most of the acting was not up to what we have come to expect from an FX series.  The dialogue in places is atrocious, am I really supposed to believe that an air traffic controller has never seen an airplane up close before?  I expected Corey Stoll, coming off of a memorable performance on last year's first season of House of Cards, to elevate the cast.  Unfortunately this wasn't the case.  Part of that is the script (who cares about your milk!?) and another is the uneven acting around him.  I'm usually not one to knock a toupee, as sometimes they're done well and seem like a part of the character, but honestly costume designer; is having hair an intrinsic part of this character?  If not, then why, please why?

I have a feeling that the show will hit its stride, but as pilots go it wasn't spectacular.  Can we please pull the plug on premieres and finales going longer than a standard one hour show's run time?  If you need more time to tell your story split it up, I for one have never had a problem with 'to be continued'

Conclusion:  A slightly bumpy start, but I see some potential in this series.  Something to remember is that the overall quality of a show usually increases after the pilot.  On a side note, there is a scene at the end that completely ruined a guilty pleasure song of mine.  As soon as I saw the setting and heard the song I knew it was coming too.

Rating:  6.25/10

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