Well whadda ya know—another TV show I’m super late to address! But I was bound and determined to eventually get around to this one because a) it looked super weird and creepy, and b) the response to it has been pretty positive. Sadly, I have not read the book series this is based on, but from what I understand the show actually follows the book pretty well, which is nice to hear. With that in mind, let’s talk about the premiere of FX’s The Strain, shall we?
What I liked:
- The premise. It’s about the breakout of a disease that creates vampires, but these aren’t like any vampires you’ve ever seen. We’re stepping away from romantic vampires and back to the good ol’ vicious bloodsuckers, and it’s awesome. Also, it follows a CDC team, and I think it’s always interesting to see what they do.
- The characters. We’re given just enough about the main characters to like them and/or find them interesting. Eph (Corey Stoll), for instance, is serious about his work with the CDC but still has a nice sense of humor. Nora (Mía Maestro), a member of Eph’s team, is sweet but tough. Abraham (David Bradley) is mysterious and badass (also, Bradley has been HP’s Filch AND GoT’s Walder Frey—major nerd points). And then there’s Jim (Sean Astin), who I’m not sure what to think of yet, but he definitely plays an interesting role in this first episode.
- The creepy tone. Sometimes things get a little bit gruesome (especially one poor guy’s death toward the middle of the episode), but overall I really like the eerie, tense, B-movie vibe that the show has going for it. Plus, it’s kind of a sci-fi/horror/mystery mix, which is pretty cool.
- The scene where “Sweet Caroline” is playing. Partly because the scene is creepy and cool, but also because you can never, ever go wrong with “Sweet Caroline.” I won’t tell you anything else about it since that risks spoilers.
- The ending. It ties in with a pretty cool monologue at the beginning of the episode, and I think it sets up some interesting stuff for the season.
What I didn’t like:
- Though I like most of the characters, a few of them grate on my nerves. The one who bothered me the most was gangster wannabe Gus (Miguel Gomez). He’s cocky, and he thinks he’s tough, and I just want him to bite it already.
- Also, Joan (Leslie Hope), one of the individuals the CDC takes in, is a major diva. Get over yourself, girl.
- Eph and his wife, Kelly (Natalie Brown), have a type of relationship that I am entirely too sick of seeing on TV and in films: a strained marriage due to the fact that the husband works all the time. It’s been done a million times, and I feel like it’s always the same conversation between the couple. Wife: (whining) “Why do you woooork so much?” Husband: “I have an important job! But I can change!” Wife: (whining) “But you haven’t changed!” Repeat conversation over the next several episodes. I was entirely prepared to hate Eph and Kelly because of this. Eph grew on me, but Kelly still has work to do to make me like her.
- My only other iffy bit would be that this show can be pretty darn gross. I was able to handle it, although there were a few moments where I cringed and considered looking away. This is definitely not a show for kids.
The Potential: I think there’s significant potential here—especially given the fact that it’s being adapted from a book series (seems like everything awesome is nowadays). And the fact that the series’ author, Guillermo del Toro, is helming the TV show, too, is great—you can always tell, I think, when a show or movie has the author’s touch. To put it shortly, The Strain is wonderfully creepy and interesting. If you’re curious, I say go for it.
My Grade: A-