I finally got a chance to check out the new FX series The Strain based off of the series of books written by Chuck Hogan and Guillermo Del Toro. When I first heard that this was being made I got excited since I loved the books so much. I got even more excited when I saw that it was not going to be on network television. There are thirteen episodes planned so some of the things that happened in the first episode seemed like they could’ve waited a few more episodes before getting to them.
The premise of the show is that an airplane lands at the JFK airport with the lights all out and no one moving on it. Now, they spoon-fed this to the viewers by showing weird things happening on the plane first. An employee terrified that something was alive below the plane and seeing this door burst open didn’t need to happen. It was forgotten about anyway since when the plane was checked out no one said “Holy shit! This door was bent open!” Hey. A plane landing on the tarmac and looking dead is enough.
Dr. Ephraim Goodweather and his partner Dr. Nora Martinez climb aboard and they discover that everyone is dead save for about four passengers. They can’t figure out what killed them since there is no real sign of trauma.
This old man that owns a pawn shop named Professor Abraham Setrakian knows what is happening and tries to convince them that “he” is here and that they need to cut off the heads or burn all of the bodies. Of course no one listens as if planes landing like this is a normal thing. They don’t listen and this monster gets loose and kills someone. Back at his pawn shop there is a heart in a jar that he talks to and feeds drops of blood.
This other guy, a gang member, is sent by a creepy guy to get the giant coffin that arrived on the plane and disappeared without anyone noticing. He manages to get the casket and escape. Then there’s this other old man that is excited about whatever is in the casket coming to the city.
They also manage to cram in the fact that Goodweather is divorced and trying to work things out with his wife and kid while at the same time having a thing going on with Martinez. At this point even though I have read the books and know how all this ends I am wondering why they put so much story into the first episode. This entire thing could’ve been just about the plane on the runway and let the suspense build up. There was no need to introduce Setrakian yet, show The Master, or exactly what happens when people are infected with this disease.
There is one cool scene where a father who wants to know where his daughter is since she was on the plane has her creepy ass come home and hugs him. There’s also a scene in the mortuary where the bodies that have been autopsied and not come to life and jam their stingers in his neck. Oh, one more thing. There’s this guy named Gabriel Bolivar that they turn into this super poser for no real reason. It takes away from what will eventually happen if they stay true to the story.
Overall I wasn’t as blown away by this as I hoped I’d be. It wasn’t terrible but if after a couple more episodes it stays this way with far too much story, not enough character development, I’ll just cash out and start watching other series that people have been talking about. The fact that Del Toro directed this makes me even more upset because he had the chance to gore it up or make it creepy. There was not a single creepy moment and the jump scares were predictable as hell. Like I said, with thirteen episodes they have more than enough time to explore these characters. There was no need to put so much into the first one.
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