MovieBob's Take: The Strain Premiere Was a Strain to Watch

MovieBob's Take: The Strain Premiere Was a Strain to Watch

Will del Toro's The Strain improve in upcoming episodes? I hope so.

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I haven't seen the TV series, but from my experience with the trilogy you really do need to read them all for many of the central concepts to make sense. Even then, some of them don't; there are some brilliant, cinematic scenes in those books, but the underpinning logic behind them often falls short.

I do wonder how the TV series intends to tackle that. Presumably each season is book length?

So far the biggest strain is the seemingly forced-in human drama that's just so unrelated with the underlying premise. When it gets all vampire-y it's pretty awesome, but when we're forced to watch custody battle nonsense I just want the show to get on with it and show us more cool monster stuff.

I honest don't mind stereotypical, easy characters in this sort of thing as long as they're used well, I don't watch them for cool characters (though it helps, see Hellboy). Trying to make us care about how often they'll see their children is not the way to do that.

Cowabungaa:
So far the biggest strain is the seemingly forced-in human drama that's just so unrelated with the underlying premise. When it gets all vampire-y it's pretty awesome, but when we're forced to watch custody battle nonsense I just want the show to get on with it and show us more cool monster stuff.

I honest don't mind stereotypical, easy characters in this sort of thing as long as they're used well, I don't watch them for cool characters (though it helps, see Hellboy). Trying to make us care about how often they'll see their children is not the way to do that.

As a writer you try to have your audience invested in whether or not the characters succeed, live, die, whatever. You may not be able to relate to what's happening to them, but others may, and it draws the viewer in.

I quite liked it, especially that one scene. You know.

Read the book years ago, thought it was awful. I like Del Toro, don't get me wrong, but this was an interesting premise dully executed. Ten pounds of banal in a five pound bag and too boring to be good camp.

Hopefully the show will be better but this take? This is pretty much most I'd expect from it.

I feel like the problem with this show is more that the source material is not as good as people seem to remember it being, rather than the show itself being the failure.

Makabriel:
As a writer you try to have your audience invested in whether or not the characters succeed, live, die, whatever. You may not be able to relate to what's happening to them, but others may, and it draws the viewer in.

I know, thing is; this is not the type of show for those particular things. Yes, writers need to make us care for its characters, but when the situations are so out of place in the show it just becomes jarring. For instance, if Vikings would work itself up about Norse, well, going viking. But then instead of doing that keeps showing our protagonists trying to catch a fish. We don't want him see catch fish, we want him to battle Saxons.

Sort of the same here, we don't want our protagonists babbling about custody of whatever, we want him to battle vampirism. As the old saying goes; there's a time and place for everything. I don't think this ties in well enough.

The other dad with some kid issues, now that was a whole lot more awesome. Especially in the second episode.

Cowabungaa:

Makabriel:
As a writer you try to have your audience invested in whether or not the characters succeed, live, die, whatever. You may not be able to relate to what's happening to them, but others may, and it draws the viewer in.

I know, thing is; this is not the type of show for those particular things. Yes, writers need to make us care for its characters, but when the situations are so out of place in the show it just becomes jarring. For instance, if Vikings would work itself up about Norse, well, going viking. But then instead of doing that keeps showing our protagonists trying to catch a fish. We don't want him see catch fish, we want him to battle Saxons.

Sort of the same here, we don't want our protagonists babbling about custody of whatever, we want him to battle vampirism. As the old saying goes; there's a time and place for everything. I don't think this ties in well enough.

The other dad with some kid issues, now that was a whole lot more awesome. Especially in the second episode.

Just because a show has vampires or supernatural animals doesn't mean it should be nothing more than mindless action scenes and camp fests all around, devoid of any drama or non-violent conflict. Whether or not that's what you're trying to say, it's how you're coming off - as saying that shows with supernatural or fantasy elements should only aspire to being the equivalent of a young kid smashing action figures together.

TKretts3:
Just because a show has vampires or supernatural animals doesn't mean it should be nothing more than mindless action scenes and camp fests all around, devoid of any drama or non-violent conflict. Whether or not that's what you're trying to say, it's how you're coming off - as saying that shows with supernatural or fantasy elements should only aspire to being the equivalent of a young kid smashing action figures together.

It may be how I come of as, but not what I want to say. What I want to say is that I'd want it all to tie in. For instance, to stick with the Vikings analogy; sure we see him hacking Saxons to bits, but we also see the protagonist engage in those typical Norse politics. There's more than violence.

Same goes for The Strain. Sure I like drama and not just camp, though I do believe that if a show wants to go that way it should embrace it properly or just not at all, but have it tie in with the matter at hand. A loved one getting infected, politics regarding how to deal with the outbreak, you name it. There's plenty of potential for it within the show's premise. But general family squabbles is not what I care for in this particular show.

OMG, dat last line! Bob, del Toro and the cast & crew of The Strain should apply ointment to that righteous BURN.

Well, it's been two episodes now, and some conclusions can be drawn. For me, the show is actually solid and I'm having fun with it for the most part. I'm enjoying the premise, the classic Dracula story through the lens of an epidemic-style narrative with a bit of zombies tossed in, there are some decent performances, it's all done very competently as far as direction and such goes. However, there are three major problems I've had with the show:

1. The Omnipotent Corporation. Not to spoil anything, but every hurdle the "bad guys" face is arbitrarily cleared by having the said corporation make it disappear. If this was done once, maybe twice, it would be bearable, but it's done over and over again, as an excuse for actions and behaviour that borders on retarded. It's a cheap Deus-ex-machina resolution and feels arbitrary and contrived.

2. The main character's personal life. Look, I don't care about his son, his wife trying to leave him, her new boyfriend, the pissing contest that the wife, the protagonist and the boyfriend have over the kid's affection. And yet, broad swathes of it are shoved into every episode. A bit of characterization in fine, but unless you can come up with something genuinely interesting, don't bother overdoing it, particularly in such a ham-fisted manner.

3. Lack of any strong, memorable characters. There just aren't any. The main character is particularly uninteresting (which only makes the previous point hurt more). He's a walking trope, and not a very interesting incarnation of it. The closest thing to a solid character I can latch on to is Abraham, who gets minimal screen time and is pushed to the side and ignored. I'm expecting that to change, but for now the show suffers in character-driven sequences.

Don't get me wrong, I like the show and will continue watching it. I just expected more from del Toro. It reminds me a bit of Helix, a SyFy original (which isn't necessarily a bad thing, look at Defiance, that shit's awesome) which while not as competently made or written manages to have more soul and spirit, despite being a mediocre show at best. In fact, that seems to be the core of the problem - Strain just feels a bit soulless...

The main character and his family were the best parts of the pilot. The conflict is grounded and relatable because Goodweather is a bad person in a very human way. He's manipulative, dismissive and is clearly no longer in love with her. He's got so many issues that the divorce feels natural and justified. I respect that the show didn't try to come up with some cop-out reason like 'he's too in love with his job' or 'he cheated on her.'

So yeah, I'm pleased that the custody battle is an integral part of the show. I could not be more into this.

The rest of the episode was alright. I was turned off by old man's introduction. An indulgent power fantasy felt out of place and unnecessary. His badass credentials could have been established solely with the knowledge that he has a secret room where he keeps a monster's heart as a pet.

Also the coroner playing with the heart was reminiscent of Prometheus. It's not believable when experts disregard basic safety protocols because they are curious. It's always used as a death flag and it robs the scene's tension.

I hope the MC's sidekicks get more personality.

Loop Stricken:
I quite liked it, especially that one scene. You know.

Got to agree. Awesome!

Probably the most fun I've had since Fargo TV show, which was better.

But with real drek like Hemlock Grove to which we can compare it, this show shines.

Did Bob really call Sharknado a campy triumph (or to a lesser extent at least)?!

The only reason I enjoyed that movie is because my friends and I made a drinking game of drinking ever time some happened that showed how bad the movie was... If you NEED alcohol to get through it, I'd hardly call it a campy triumph.

OT: This show seems to be getting moderately alright reviews (about on par with AOS) so I'll probably try it out for a few episodes before deciding on whether or not to continue watching.

Elijah Newton:
Read the book years ago, thought it was awful. I like Del Toro, don't get me wrong, but this was an interesting premise dully executed. Ten pounds of banal in a five pound bag and too boring to be good camp.

Hopefully the show will be better but this take? This is pretty much most I'd expect from it.

I haven't read the book but I'm willing to bet he works better in the language of TV and movies rather than literature. I mean that coffin was a sight to behold and one look at it told me "Yep. That was made by Del Toro." I have this idea that a show that has a good premise and is a "genre" show figures itself out either half way through the first season, or in its second season. Its a shame but its a trend I noticed. I mean the two recent examples would be Agents of SHIELD and Arrow respectively. Hopefully it gets better because that cloaked thing is one of the more interesting things I've seen on the small screen in years that wasn't in animation and it looks like, based off that and the coffin, this show has been given at least an alright budget to do cool crap.

Oh, I thought this whole thing was a train wreck. Nothing about it is going to get me to sit through another episode in the hopes to becomes at least okay. I had hope at least for the old guy character when they first introduced him, but by the end of the episode I couldn't care less about him either. Neither the story or acting could hold my interest so I spent the whole time noticing all the nonsense and plot holes. And the vampire special effects, how do you get such crap on a high profile show this day and age? I don't know if they would have worked on supernatural let a summer banner show.

The only thing about this show that is creepy is the worms. And thats not a mark of skill of anyone on this show. Any video of actual worms enter the body would be just as unsettling.

Ugh... I just recently finished reading the third book in the series, and quite frankly, I was turned off by the middle of it. I won't go into the details here, I really was despising the book almost immediately, but I'm a bit of a 'completionist', shall we say, and have to see things through that I start reading.

On the other hand, the first book was pretty fun, and I enjoyed it immensely- a CSI/Walking Dead/vampire mash-up.

Coakle:
I respect that the show didn't try to come up with some cop-out reason like 'he's too in love with his job' or 'he cheated on her.'

Those really are the reasons their marriage is going downhill. He's a typical obsessed cop who constantly prioritizes his job over his family. He and his coworker have a conversation early on about how his soon-to-be-ex-wife knows about their relationship, which I think can easily be assumed was going on long before the show started.

I'll also copy-paste my defining moment of the show thus far from another thread about plot holes.

PainInTheAssInternet:
I just watched the pilot for a show called The Strain.

The protagonist, who works for the CDC (remember this. It's important. The main character works for the Centre for Disease Control) is dealing with an outbreak that's revealed to be connected to a parasitic worm. While investigating a plane that serves as ground zero for this parasite, he gathers some of these worms and puts them in a container. He was wearing a full hazmat suit as per SOP.

When they lose a vital target, his coworker asks what else they have. At which point he produces the container with the worms from his plainclothes jacket.

Holy. Shit. How much of an idiot is this guy? Why and how did he not submit them for testing? How does he still have his job if he treats dangerous samples like this? These parasites had just killed over 200 people. Isn't it almost exactly like just casually walking around with a canister of the ebola virus in your jacket? And since he gathered them in his hazmat suit, that would mean he went through quarantine and decontamination and then picked up the container on the other side and put it in his jacket.

That container doesn't look too advanced either. It was just a clear box with a basic lid.

PainInTheAssInternet:

I'll also copy-paste my defining moment of the show thus far from another thread about plot holes.

PainInTheAssInternet:
I just watched the pilot for a show called The Strain.

The protagonist, who works for the CDC (remember this. It's important. The main character works for the Centre for Disease Control) is dealing with an outbreak that's revealed to be connected to a parasitic worm. While investigating a plane that serves as ground zero for this parasite, he gathers some of these worms and puts them in a container. He was wearing a full hazmat suit as per SOP.

When they lose a vital target, his coworker asks what else they have. At which point he produces the container with the worms from his plainclothes jacket.

Holy. Shit. How much of an idiot is this guy? Why and how did he not submit them for testing? How does he still have his job if he treats dangerous samples like this? These parasites had just killed over 200 people. Isn't it almost exactly like just casually walking around with a canister of the ebola virus in your jacket? And since he gathered them in his hazmat suit, that would mean he went through quarantine and decontamination and then picked up the container on the other side and put it in his jacket.

That container doesn't look too advanced either. It was just a clear box with a basic lid.

Thats the part that bothers them? Not the fact that they seem to think worms are responsible despite the fact that they know that something forced open the cargo bay door, that they are traces all over the entire plane including the ceiling, that they know something slit open gashes in the throats?

Also the coffin scene. Okay 9' carved coffin filled with earth. And yet like 2 guys move it from standing to laying position. It latches from the inside, why didn't the earth fall out when it was standing? Also why was no one is hazmat suite when they opened it? The airport manager guy wasn't even wearing gloves.

And earlier, the 2 suite up and go into the plane and at one point both stop communicating with the people outside. WHy? They are already in some jurisdictional fight with other departments. Stopping communicating is just going to get other departments trying to enter the plane. ANd why does the one go into the cockpit when they are not supposed to? Hell why do they split up at all? Why don't they call for backup when they find that the cargo bay was forced from the inside? Thats a pretty strong indicator of a dangerous PHYSICAL threat that could still be on the plane.

Why does the old guy tell them to destroy the bodies with so little explanation? He's seen the disease, he should start by very clearly stating all the symptoms so they take him seriously.

Why does that father have a framed photo of his daughter at the airport? SHouldn't he have been waiting there the whole time to pick her up when she landed and stayed while no one would tell him whats going on? So he what brought it when he thought everything was still fine? And how did dead girl get home? She knows the route to walk from the airport or morgue she was at?

How'd the vampire know specifically which van to load the coffin in?

And thats just the things I remember wrong after watching days ago.

Raziel:

PainInTheAssInternet:

I'll also copy-paste my defining moment of the show thus far from another thread about plot holes.

PainInTheAssInternet:
I just watched the pilot for a show called The Strain.

The protagonist, who works for the CDC (remember this. It's important. The main character works for the Centre for Disease Control) is dealing with an outbreak that's revealed to be connected to a parasitic worm. While investigating a plane that serves as ground zero for this parasite, he gathers some of these worms and puts them in a container. He was wearing a full hazmat suit as per SOP.

When they lose a vital target, his coworker asks what else they have. At which point he produces the container with the worms from his plainclothes jacket.

Holy. Shit. How much of an idiot is this guy? Why and how did he not submit them for testing? How does he still have his job if he treats dangerous samples like this? These parasites had just killed over 200 people. Isn't it almost exactly like just casually walking around with a canister of the ebola virus in your jacket? And since he gathered them in his hazmat suit, that would mean he went through quarantine and decontamination and then picked up the container on the other side and put it in his jacket.

That container doesn't look too advanced either. It was just a clear box with a basic lid.

Thats the part that bothers them? Not the fact that they seem to think worms are responsible despite the fact that they know that something forced open the cargo bay door, that they are traces all over the entire plane including the ceiling, that they know something slit open gashes in the throats?

Also the coffin scene. Okay 9' carved coffin filled with earth. And yet like 2 guys move it from standing to laying position. It latches from the inside, why didn't the earth fall out when it was standing? Also why was no one is hazmat suite when they opened it? The airport manager guy wasn't even wearing gloves.

And earlier, the 2 suite up and go into the plane and at one point both stop communicating with the people outside. WHy? They are already in some jurisdictional fight with other departments. Stopping communicating is just going to get other departments trying to enter the plane. ANd why does the one go into the cockpit when they are not supposed to? Hell why do they split up at all? Why don't they call for backup when they find that the cargo bay was forced from the inside? Thats a pretty strong indicator of a dangerous PHYSICAL threat that could still be on the plane.

Why does the old guy tell them to destroy the bodies with so little explanation? He's seen the disease, he should start by very clearly stating all the symptoms so they take him seriously.

Why does that father have a framed photo of his daughter at the airport? SHouldn't he have been waiting there the whole time to pick her up when she landed and stayed while no one would tell him whats going on? So he what brought it when he thought everything was still fine? And how did dead girl get home? She knows the route to walk from the airport or morgue she was at?

How'd the vampire know specifically which van to load the coffin in?

And thats just the things I remember wrong after watching days ago.

Why does it take everyone so long to realize there is a serious containment breach at the morgue? Why is there only one guy there? Why would he be permitted to work alone with such a dangerous situation afoot? Why was he working without a hazmat suit?

Why did they assume that since the worms are evidently connected with the sickness there cannot be an airborne contagion?

Why did the thug think that opening fire at a security checkpoint was a good idea? If the symbol that guy was carrying wasn't recognized by the security, why would they let him through at the behest of a low-level CDC employee?

I did miss the first 10 minutes of the second episode, but why hasn't anyone found the body of their boss who was killed in the storage area?

That's all I have for now. I'm beginning to realize that this plot isn't very well thought out. It has just as many problems as (some of them very similar to) Prometheus.

PainInTheAssInternet:

Coakle:
I respect that the show didn't try to come up with some cop-out reason like 'he's too in love with his job' or 'he cheated on her.'

Those really are the reasons their marriage is going downhill. He's a typical obsessed cop who constantly prioritizes his job over his family. He and his coworker have a conversation early on about how his soon-to-be-ex-wife knows about their relationship, which I think can easily be assumed was going on long before the show started.

That would be such a letdown. I'm think it's a bit more complicated than that.

He abuses his position to deflect criticism and avoid unpleasantness. Goodweather's opening scene had him lie about a CDC emergency because he wanted to save face. During the counselling, he implies that his wife (Kelly)* is being unreasonable because he has a very important job.

The cheating and work obsession is a symptom of the deteriorating marriage. His personal shortcoming are causing it. He's not obsessed with his job, he's obsessed with himself. It is interesting how his various issues manifest themselves. How he unintentionally hurts the people close to him. He doesn't love Kelly, he loves what she means to him. Ties into the whole love motif, y'know? In this way, he parallels the monsters in the show.

I hope this is where they are going. I may be giving this show way too much credit, since its got CSI forensics mixed with Prometheus sci-fi.

*Yeah, I had to look up her name.

Can someone explain this to me (seeing a directors name on a book is a bit confusing) Is it a book that was written explicitly for the purpose of being made into a movie/show, or is it one of those rare cases where the book is based on the movie/show? Either way seems to turn me off from reading it.

cthulhuspawn82:
Can someone explain this to me (seeing a directors name on a book is a bit confusing) Is it a book that was written explicitly for the purpose of being made into a movie/show, or is it one of those rare cases where the book is based on the movie/show? Either way seems to turn me off from reading it.

From what I have read elsewhere, del Toro tried to pitch the show, but couldn't drum up any interest. He decided to write the books to demonstrate that the idea could attract a fan-base, and then FX approached him to turn it into a show.

I don't know if that's accurate, but considering everyone on this thread who's read the books has said they're awful, I don't understand how this "write a book as a pitch" idea could have worked.

 

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