Being a devoted TV fan, I have little respect for the acclaimed movie directors and generally I don't expect anything good from them turning to television. Making movies is very different from creating TV shows. With movies you just want to throw a couple of familiar faces in, some kind of a story about the potential end of the world (alien/supernatural invasion has worked perfectly for many-many years now) and a number of special effects, of course. Congratulations - you've got a movie! You don't need to pay much attention to your characters, the dialogues and so on. In fact, you have about fifteen minutes for the actors to deliver their condensed lines that would make even the stupidest viewer understand who's the hero, who's the nerd and who's the evil one. But in TV, if you do not have the characters that are thoroughly worked through, that are compelling and with plausible motivation for their actions - you have nothing.
All of this is an introduction to the review of del Toro's attempt to earn some easy money, the newest FX drama - The Strain. The first episode was directed and co-written by del Toro himself, so he's fully responsible for whatever I've seen so far. So, can an old dog learn new tricks? Well, not this one.
There is hardly any other creation out there that is further away from the saying "less is more" than this one. The series is full of every possible gimmick that drive the general public to the movie theaters. There is a virus threat, weird worms that try to infest humans, a creature with vampire-ish eating habits, some version of zombies or undead, evil corporate bastards that are not even really human, an old man with a sword; there are even freaking Nazis.
The main part of the head of CDC, Eph Goodweather (what kind of last name is that?), is played by Corey Stoll (you may remember him as the troubled congressman, who got killed in the first season of House of Cards, only now he has hair). Who is Mr. Goodweather? Surprise-surprise, he's a workaholic who is about to lose the custody of his son as his wife hates him for not being there and divorces him. He has a thing for his sexy, emotional and obviously smart (because she wears glasses) colleague Nora Martinez (Mia Maestro). It hasn't happened yet, but I understand that this couple will start killing undead creatures with swords in the near future.
Not only the characters are plain and boringly typical for the genre (by the way, haven't you got tired from these emotionally unattainable magnificent bastards? I know I have). The lines they say made me roll my eyes on numerous occasions. Just look at this monologue by Eph:
You don't like terrorists? Try negotiating with a virus. A virus exists only to find a carrier and reproduce. That's all it does and it does it quickly. It has no political views, it has no religious beliefs, it has no cultural hangups, it has no respect for the badge, it has no concept of time or geography. It might as well be the Middle Ages, except for the convenience of hitching a ride on a metal tube flying from meal to meal to meal. That’s how a plague begins. So you still want to be the first one through the door?
Only I feel that this is excessive to prove a point?
Then there's this one by some evil rich man, who seems to like tag questions a lot:
You may notice how chilly it's gotten in here (...) but [it's] not too cold for you, I trust. Of course, It can't be too cold for you, can it?
Throughout my life, I've learnt what it feels to cross a line. To do things... the things that cannot be undone. That line - it has been crossed now, hasn't it?
I literally laughed when the main evil creature escaped in a hilarious manner, waving with all its limbs! The thing that lives in the jar with water and looks like a stomach is also pretty funny. All of this could be a great parody on thrillers of that sort, the sad thing is that the creators a dead serious.
All in all, it seems like a more expensive Salem. No Fargo here, ladies and gentlemen, move along, there's a queue of boys and girls with popcorn, desperate to check this out.