Several months ago, I wrote an article on whether or not FX had found scary success in bringing The Strain to the small screen. At the time, I thought it might be gold for the network. A vampire series based on a book co-written by Guillermo del Toro and produced by Lost’s Carlton Cuse, what could go wrong? A lot went right during season one. Unfortunately, a lot went wrong during season one, too. 

vampire from the strainThe first thing The Strain did right was how it handled the suspense. The first episode left the audience a little creeped out and wanting more from the next episode. Over the course of the series, the creepy and s throughout the series. Further into the series, those moments became few and far between, but when they were there it made the episodes even better. Who can look at a shed the same way after seeing one being used as a vampire cafeteria? Or how about when Gabriel Bolivar’s little Bolivar fell off into the urinal and he flushed it? The Strain did right was how it handled the suspense. The first episode left the audience a little creeped out and wanting more from the next episode. Over the course of the series, the creepy and scary became few and far between, but when they were there it made the episodes even better. Who can look at a shed the same way after seeing one being used as a vampire cafeteria? Or how about when Gabriel Bolivar’s little Bolivar fell off into the urinal and he flushed it?

I originally thought  a different type of vampire not seen in other mediums would be a good thing. For the most part, the vampires were pretty creepy (there’s the creepy again). We saw different types of vampires throughout the series. The regular vampire, or what I call the “ground soldier” was more like the vampires we had seen in other movies-pointy ears and fangs. Then there was the Eichorst vampire that seemed a little further along the vampire chain than the others, but still very vampire cool.  At first, the vagina throat thing seemed sort of silly, but seeing a tentacle shoot out of it made it seem far from vagina-y.

the master

A vampire face with lobster-boy hands.

One of The Strain‘s biggest failure was the Master. The audience was teased for a couple of episodes about The Master. “He is coming,” Captain Doyle Redfern warned on his hospital bed.  We could hear his voice in the heads of the infected. It made the Master evil and we couldn’t wait to see him on screen. However, when the Master was revealed he was far from evil and far from intimidating. The evil creature promised to be the personification of evil and  bring down humanity turned out to be an over over-sized muppet. The Master got more ridiculous every time he appeared on screen. He would have worked much better if the show creators would have left him as a shadow, a figure moving along the wall, or a voice in someone’s head.

dr. eph in a hazmat suit

No one can hear you can act in a hazmat suit

The Strain also failed at developing any meaningful relationship between Ephraim Goodweather, Nora Goodweather, and Zach Goodweahter, their son. The intent, I’m sure, was to balance the more intense elements of the story. The series couldn’t only be about hunting vampires. As cool as it sounds, it would get stale rather quick. Unfortunately, Corey Stoll (House of Cards) and Ben Hyland’s  cardboard acting failed to develop a father/son relationship that resonated with viewers. The actors didn’t believe in the relationship and neither did the viewers. Every time the two appeared on screen together we wanted to see vampires and vampires being killed.

a nazi from the strainThe best moments in the series involved Richard Sammel, channeling his inner Chritoph Waltz  (Admit it, Waltz came to mind the first time you saw him on screen) and David Bradley (Game of Thrones, Harry Potter) plays Abraham Setrakian. Whether it was on screen together or in different scenes, the two actors added a dimension the show needed to balance Corey Stall’s over acting. It would have been less of a show without the two actors.

As good as Sammel and Bradley were Kevin Durand (Robin Hood) was just as good. Durand’s Vasiliy Fet balanced out Stoll’s holier-than-thou Goodweahter. Some of the series best scenes involved Fet. Let’s hope he appears more often in season 2.

Overall, the series was worth watching.  I’ll be watching when season 2 premieres in 2015, but it won’t be with the same anticipation.

Grade: B

 

 

 

 

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