The Strain: Episode 1

The Strain is a book written by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan and first released in 2009. It’s the first book in a series followed by The Fall and The Night Eternal. I reviewed The Strain back in 2009 and you can check out the full review here, I also pulled in my friend Val to do another review which you can find here. If you don’t want to read both reviews let me give you the highlights. We both agreed that The Strain featured a fascinating update to the vampire myth. del Toro and Hogan took familiar elements of vampire folklore and gave them reasoned scientific approach (with the exception of the whole won’t cross running water thing) while at the same time equating the notion of vampirism with that of a virus or parasite. I found that del Toro and Hogan while having a fascinating take on vampires were not terribly great at their character creating a handful of characters that were boring and uninspired and several who were downright fascinating and woefully underexplored. By and large both Val and myself found the The Strain to be a enjoyable and entertaining update to the vampire myth.

Needless to say I was definitely excited about the prospect of The Strain as a television series. del Toro is a masterful visual artist and his distinct eye and unique vision are always a pleasure to watch. Given that the novel had a certain amount of cinematic flair to it it seemed certain that very little would have to be discarded in order to make an entertaining television show. Turns out I was a little bit wrong about that as the pilot episode of The Strain is an enormous mess.

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Primetime Confessions: Kyle XY

I have a friend who, when we were in our primary school days, confessed that once while staying home sick for got hooked on soaps. This is a statement I would never let that friend live down. While I have never been the most discriminate of television watchers there are two things I’ve always managed to avoid: reality television (post-Real World/Road Rules, all 90s teens are exempt from that) and soap operas. I have been forced as of late to reconsider that last. Sure, as a (mostly) recovered wrestling fan I have acknowledged that the “sports-entertainment” embodied by the WWE is a soap opera of sorts but that isn’t what I’m talking about. Sometimes there is a show you get hooked on, a show that intellectually you’re not sure you really should be enjoying but you, for one reason or another, you can’t stop watching. For me that show, once something of a prime-time soap, is a little program called Kyle XY.

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Terminator: Sarah Conner Chronicles, Pilot

I won’t lie. This post will, more than likely, turn out to be a fanboy love letter to Summer Glau. I admit it was a bit jarring seeing her in a non-crazy role, as both River Tam (Firefly) and her character from the 4400 were both bat-shit insane but she carries this transformation with skill Of all the characters in the show Summer’s Terminator seemed the most interesting. Which, given that the show should really be about the relationship between to John and Sarah (and John’s rise to Christian Bale-esque badassery), doesn’t speak much in the show’s favor. However, there is room for improvement, Thomas Dekker (“John Conner”), at least seems like he could make a decent John Conner; if he stops his whining. Lean Headwy is far too pretty to be Sarah Conner and lacks the edge that Linda Hamilton had in T2.

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Anyway the basic premise: It’s 1999 and Sarah is living in near domestic bliss when some nightmares make her get all antsy. She and John hit the road. Sarah’s fiancee goes to the cops. Oops, this alerts not only the FBI but a rather generic stone-jawed Terminator. Meanwhile, in New Mexico, John is starting in his new school where he meets an overly curious cutie (Summer Glau). On day two a substitute teacher shows and, in perhaps the most idiotic move ever, rips a gun out of his thigh and tries to shoot John. John makes his escape and things go pretty much as you expect from there. We get our trio on the run with the cute-as-a-button Terminator where they meet up with old friends the Dekker family. From there they head to bank vault where they assemble a lightning gun (**shrug**), fry the evil robot guy, and time jump to 2007.

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The pilot was a solid sci-fi outing with only few “WTF were they thinking” moments (re: lightning gun) and, at the least, was something fresh amidst a stagnant sea of re-runs. Things could get better and the initial mystery of the show, who ends up creating SkyNet with Miles Dekker being all dead, should hold long-time Terminator fans interest enough. I found the following exchange interesting:

John: What model are you? You seem…different.

Summer: **eats a potato chip** I am different.

As I said earlier, I won’t lie and say that my mind didn’t immediately race down corridors only the finest of japanese animated films could conjure, but it was an interesting comment as the slighter build of Summer seems curiously inadequete for the whole Terminate function that their name implies. Regardless of how things turn out I’ll be happy to tune in for a weekly dose of Summer.

Edit:  Sorry about the formatting mistake earlier.  Every once and a while worpdress decides it wants extra long lines.  Grrrr….  All better now though.