TV Review: The Strain (2014) Pilot Episode

Does having Hollywood big-league names make a TV show more appealing? Yes, I like to think so.

The Strain has been this year’s most-anticipated summer show and why the hell not? Based on Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan’s novel trilogies, as well as being produced by FX, The Strain has the complete package to knock out the rest of its competitions.

The first episode centers on a mysterious plane which landed in JFK airport with its gate and windows sealed. Thinking this is bad, the airport manager called upon Dr Goodweather and his team from CDC to check it out. Once the epidemiologist and his gang discovered that hundreds of the passengers on board are presumably dead and a mysterious coffin, along with horrific worms, appear in the cargo holding, they know things are going to be bad. Like REALLY bad.

While the teaser trailer wants me to believe The Strain is a modern no-nonsense vampire show, I was glad it didn’t go with that direction. Within the first 10 minutes, the pilot has proven to be campy. No originality here. None of these actors can act without spitting cringe-worthy dialogues. No Bram Stoker’s Dracula here. No, this is a show about vampire virus and why you should care about them.

Horror genre is not easy on TV and that’s the fact. You either rely on gore and jump-scare, which is quite hard and got dull after sometime or you rely on stupidity. The stupidity of horror movie defy any logic sense and this is allowed and is encouraged in my opinion. Because we watch horror genre for fun, don’t we? And The Strain clings hard on that notion, hoping the method will excel on the small screen

The Strain’s horror-stupidities are countless, from the flawed characters who feel disconnected at times to the not-so-dangerous antagonist ancient vampire. For example, Dr Goodweather (played by the not-bald Corey Stoll) appears to be a decent family man at first. He attends his marriage counseling session and tries hard to get back together with his wife. But after few scenes, you might want to change your opinion and asked him, “why bother to work on your marriage when you have a mistress at work?”

Next, we have a seventy-year old Professor Abraham Setrakian (played by veteran actor David Bradley) who holds the key to this mysterious cause. His character has an awesome introduction, but judging by his age it’s hard for me to take him and his karate chop seriously. As if that’s not stressful enough, the show then introduce us to the mystery being inside the coffin who got escaped at the end. Want to know his name? You sure? Okay, his name is the Master. This Master apparently owns a billion dollar company or some kind and reminds me of the vampire plot from the epic movie, Underworld, where vampires have adapt the modern civilization and are living in disguise. I was hoping to see Bill Nighy or Michael Sheen pop out at any second there.

Guillermo Del Toro’s vision of modern vampire is playful, complete with its build up tension and great horror props (those dry skins, am I right?). But, unfortunately story-wise the pilot doesn’t have anything new to offer for me to tune in again next week. I understand I am being subjective here because I have to. I have read many good reviews on the show and I agree with some of them. Because as I have stated before, horror on TV are meant to be stupid-fun and the show provided just that.

For me The Strain sounds better on paper than on television (or even movie!). Cause in the end, I don’t care if the whole New York will be a vampire colony, because let’s get real why would that be a bad thing? Nor do I care whether Professor Setrakian will defeat his once nemesis (I am rooting for you buddy!). Saying that, however, I am interested in the Master’s return with this new plague agenda, and would opt to read the novela instead of wasting my time on this FX’s oh-so-scary horror fiction.

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9 thoughts on “TV Review: The Strain (2014) Pilot Episode

  1. labyrinthwrm

    So I was reading this review and I do want to point out one flaw, and it’s something I know only because I’ve read the books and I’m sure they’ll address it at some point. The Master doesn’t own the billion dollar company, the old man seen in the company headquarters does. He’s made a deal with The Master to bring him to NYC in exchange for healing him because he’s dying. Vampires can’t cross water by themselves, which is why the one guy made such a big deal about the gangbanger driving the van across the bridge.

  2. 13mesh

    Ah I knew I missed something there, thank you for clearing it up. Since you have read the book, what do you think of the pilot?

  3. labyrinthwrm

    I will agree that the pilot didn’t have much going on in it, but that’s mostly because it follows the beginning of the book and not much happened during that part. It’s essentially just setting up the characters and the overall idea of the show and getting you ready for the second half, where everything goes down. However, I did enjoy it and I’m excited to keep watching. And I will say that in the pilot, and everything I’ve seen for future episodes, they have been very faithful to the books. OH, and the other thing I read in your review that bothered me but I couldn’t figure out why, is that in the books, Eph is already divorced from his wife which is why he and Nora kind of have a thing going. Idk why they felt the need to keep him married and make him seem like a douche by creating a tender moment with Nora.

  4. 13mesh

    That’s weird why they changed the relationship status. From what you said the book sounds interesting, I will read it as soon as I can. Let’s hope the series played out well, I am looking forward to the second episode.

  5. 13mesh

    Hahaha I actually did like the second episode better than the pilot after reading Labyrinthwrm explanation. What do you guys think of the episode 2?

  6. snapcracklewatch

    I like it I think it is pretty freaky. That little girl! OMG! Gross…It almost reminds me of a pre-Walking Dead world, like before everything went crazy. I think the show so far is doing a good job of keeping the story interesting and fun to watch. If we nit pick it then yes it has flaws, but I am intrigued and want to see more which is a good sign. At the moment right now I am over the Leftovers, I could care less and with the Strain I feel the opposite I look forward to seeing it.

  7. 13mesh

    You made a solid argument. I will stick with this show for time being and I am also watching The Leftovers no matter how weird it has been lol

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