TV Review: “Zoo”- Not Bad Enough

Written by Michelle Young July 27, 2015

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CBS’s new summer series “Zoo” isn’t bad enough. I know this might sound stupid, but bear with me. There’s an entire genre of film and television that exists exclusively to be terrible and campy. These films are so amazing because of how devastatingly bad they are. The most famous example is probably the “Sharknado” franchise, whose complete awfulness took the world by storm (pun intended), but there are also the classics like “Lava Storm” and the “Mega Shark” series, which are also just as terribly great. I have a secret obsession with this genre, so when I saw trailers for “Zoo” I got kind of excited. The premise, animals suddenly starting to ‘fight back’ against humans, looked primed for immense amounts of camp. But sadly, “Zoo” did not quite fit the bill. The show certainly offers truckloads of cheese, but as a whole, it simply takes itself a little too seriously for it to venture completely into, what I refer to as, the “Ian Ziering Realm”. It is neither crazy, kooky horror nor serious, put together drama, which results in a final product that is fairly uncomfortable to try to enjoy.

“Zoo”, based on the novel by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge, conceptualizes what would happen if animals suddenly decided to fight back, attacking humans all over the world for the cruelty they have shown them. The show mainly follows the people chosen to investigate these strange occurrences. There is zoologist Jackson Oz (James Wolk), his safari guide friend Abraham Kenyatta (Nonso Anozie), journalist Jaime Campbell (Kristin Connolley), veterinary pathologist Mitch Morgan (Billy Burke), and French Secret Service agent Chloe Tousignant (Nora Arnezeder). Together as a confidential task force, they discover that the attacks have been spurred on by a massive evolutionary shift, which was predicted by Oz’s dead scientist father, who was written off as a misguided crackpot.

“But, what if, all across the globe, the animals decided ‘no more’? What if they finally decided to fight back?”

Despite having all the starting blocks of a great, campy, apocalyptic thriller with unexplainable events, rogues scientists, covert missions headed by unqualified civilians, and the moral message that “we are going to destroy ourselves if we don’t shape up” and poor production values, “Zoo” falls short in that it doesn’t seem to want to admit that the show is bad, and it is really, really bad. The editing is atrocious; with enough jump cuts and bad transitions to sink a ship (not to mention all the stock footage animal add-ins that make it feel like a National Geographic documentary), the writing is cheesy and chalked full of poorly placed exposition; which make the situations seem more like contrivances than actual happenstance, and the ominous music that is overlaid on every shot of an animal staring straight to camera only seems to pull out more laughs then tension. The only saving grace is some of the acting, specifically Billy Burke’s, which is able to sometimes make the terrible dialogue palatable.

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What it really boils down to is that the show just isn’t bad enough; it needs to just commit to its campy premise and really let go. “Zoo” is just trying too hard to make its audience think, when it should just try to give them some mindless, cheesy good times.

My Rating: 5/10

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