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TV Review: The Strain

the-strain-2Shrewsbury, Massachusetts- Vampires have been ingrained in our pop culture DNA ever since Bram Stoker published Dracula all those years ago. Ever since authors, directors, and showrunners alike have been trying to make their own personal mark on the mythology of these creatures. A few years ago filmmaker Guillermo del Toro co-wrote a trilogy of novels developing his own take on vampire mythology (though he already had with his 1992 film Cronos). The novels got developed into a series on FX, which is already three episodes deep into its first season.

On a dark night, a plane lands itself at JFK Airport under bizarre circumstances. The Center for Disease Control brings in its top investigators Ephraim Goodweather and Nora Martinez to investigate. They discover that all except a select few passengers are dead. As they delve further into investigating, they discover that the plague they are dealing with is unlike any they’ve ever come across.

The Strain has a lot of potential. Del Toro’s style and creepy flair are there in the sleekly made visuals, which are a standout for the series. However, the story has some intrigue, but is taking its sweet time getting anywhere interesting.  It delivers some good old fashioned horror scares, but tries its best to branch out all these side stories that, like The Bridge’s, aren’t quite connecting.

The actors do their best with what they’re given and they almost are able to distract from it. Corey Stoll is a good leading man as Dr. Ephraim Goodweather, but his character’s presentation feels a little closed off. The same goes for Sean Astin as Goodweather’s cohort, Jim Kent. David Bradley (Filch from the Harry Potter series and many other remarkable things) is shaping up to have a very interesting storyline as a Van Helsing-esque character. There are a few others in various other subplots, but there are so many it’s hard to keep track.

What’s interesting about The Strain is how reminiscent it is of AMC’s Turn. The Strain seems to be taking its sweet time building to something bigger in the distance. It’s not a problem at the moment per se, but it’s hard to stay invested or interested in the developments as they slowly chug along. It wasn’t until the end of the third episode that the characters realize what it is they’re up against.  Hopefully by season’s end, things will come closer to a better show.

The Strain offers an interesting take on vampire mythology, but that can’t sustain the show for very long. The story has too many threads that can easily snarl the characters and bring the show down. That could all change by season’s end, but only time will tell. The Strain is so close to being a terrific show. It’s an average show, but with time and improvement, it could be a great one

The Strain airs Sundays @ 10 pm on FX.


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