TV Review: “The Strain” – Vampires Without Diaries

Written by Jesse Gelinas September 13, 2014

Two new vampires on "The Strain"

Oooh, seductive.

Some shows can be quite divisive. They leave people in various states of unrest and unease. Much like with the flu, some people get a sniffle, others die. It’s not exactly the same, but almost. “The Strain” is one such show. So, for the first “head to head” review on We Eat Films, former Editor-in-Chief, Spencer Sterritt, and current Editor-in-Chief, Jesse Gelinas, are going to duke it out to figure out just what kind of rating this vampire series deserves!

Jesse: “The Strain” follows Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan’s story about a planned outbreak of vampirism that hits New York City, and the CDC doctor trying his best to contain it.

Spencer: That is to say, it’s about a bunch of people with doctorates going around making decisions more akin to panicking preschoolers.

Jesse: Trying their best.

Spencer: These CDC experts can’t even keep four obviously sick civilians from leaving a guarded quarantine. Then, regardless of how many vampires they fight, they all keep denying what they’re seeing.

Jesse: You can’t expect reasonable people just hop onto the notion of supernatural creatures attacking their city.

Spencer: Granted, but after days of watching people vamp out and feast on their victims with long fleshy tongue-stingers, you think they’d learn to hop onboard. Too much of the plot is driven by these people acting like idiots.

Jesse: Fair enough. But then again, if TV characters were as smart as their audiences, nothing interesting would ever happen.

Kevin Durand as Vasiliy Fet on "The Strain"

Jesse on left, Spencer right.

Spencer: Speaking of tongue-stingers though, the show can boast some pretty awesome vampires.

Jesse: It is the main selling point for me. I do miss vampires that are actually monstrous. “30 Days of Night,” “Blade II,” etc.

Spencer: With “True Blood” finally off the air, people are in need of some good vampire action.

Jesse: And it’s nice that it’s not more flowery, glittery, monologuing vamps who drive sports cars and fall into endless love triangles.

Spencer: The “Vampire Diaries” approach.

Jesse: I’m pretty sure “The Strain” vamps don’t keep diaries.

Spencer: My only problem with the vampires would be that even though they are pretty sweet, the show is promoting itself as a horror, and they’re just not scary.

Jesse: That’s a bit subjective; I think “The Strain” is going more for an action-thriller mix, and I think it’s keeping that up quite well.

Spencer: Well I could maybe overlook the lack of scares, and grant the show its thriller status if it was always thrilling. But it just seems to keep meandering along, particularly with seemingly useless characters.

David Bradley as Abraham Setrakian on "The Strain"

Hard to love him on this show when you just loathe him on another.

Jesse: You’re gonna bitch about Gus again, aren’t you?

Spencer: In the premiere, he’s a device at best, and then has his own little vamp-free adventure for three more episodes.

Jesse: Not everyone on the show is thrown to the snakes as soon as we meet them. Sometimes some backstory and buildup is a good thing.

Spencer: But he literally seems like he’s on a completely different show. Dealing with his brother, boosting cars and such. I could be watching “Sons of Anarchy” or a really watered down episode of “The Wire” or something.

Jesse: Eph has his family story as well. Vasiliy has his rat business. People need to have a life outside of fighting vampires, otherwise the show just becomes “Buffy” again. And it’s not “Buffy;” it’s ordinary people being thrown into an extraordinary situation. And for that to make sense, we need to see them ordinary first.

Spencer: I suppose so, but it’d be nice if “The Strain” could get its pacing under control.

Jesse: No arguments here.

Eichhorst on "The Strain"

Eichhorst playing with his food.

Jesse: Can we actually focus on what we agree on? The vampires are awesome, and the show’s mytholoy is shaping up nicely.

Spencer: Truly. And Corey Stoll’s hairpiece is astounding. It’s practically a character of it’s own at this point.

Jesse: Amazing. I want more of it. I want it in my life.

Spencer: And the show’s sole child actor is absolutely terrible.

Jesse: Too true, man. Eph’s kid has got to die or get left at a bus station or something.

Spencer: Overall?

Jesse: The show is giving us some much needed monster action on cable TV, while boasting some awesome creature effects and fun, rounded episodes.

Spencer: Perfectly true, though I still think it could do with some tighter writing and more lively performances from the cast.

Jesse: It’s got three novels worth of material. Hopefully a few years to impress you.

 

Spencer’s Rating: 6.5/10

Jesse’s Rating: 8.5/10

Poster for "The Strain"

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About Jesse Gelinas

After years attempting to escape the Matrix, Jesse has accepted his fate as a writer and Senior Editor. Now that's he finished with his film degree, it gives him something to do while waiting for the machines to get careless.

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