Thursday, September 4, 2014
I have to confess to being completely blindsided by The Strain. I knew nothing about this pretty darn good television show before I saw some ads for it early this summer. But I was up to my nose in TV to watch and didn't think I'd have time to add a another show to the mix. Coming off the disappointing Helix, I read somewhere that The Strain was in a similar mode. So I checked it off the list.
But I at last succumbed to the lure and watched the debut episode finding it pretty atmospheric. An airliner full of people lands and goes "dead" on the runway in NYC and the CDC is called in to deal with the threat. Pretty neat. But then they show a scene featuring Abraham Setrakian (David Bradley who I didn't even recognize at the time and who impressed me mightily in this) as an aged but still quite spry Jewish pawnbroker, a scene in which the apparently frail old man proves his mettle and also his stern demeanor against a would be robber, and I was hooked. I had to see more of this guy who it turns out was going to be a major player in the series.
For the few who might not know, this series was created and developed by Guillermo Del Toro and displays in truly nightmarish but relentlessly mundane fashion how a vampire plague descends on the thoroughly modern city of New York. Great economic powers have contrived to distract the news media and the public attention away while the threat slowly but relentlessly spreads.
Setrakian it turns out is a veteran vampire killer and has a brutal relationship with the Master Vampire's right-hand ghoul Eichhorst, a former Nazi who was once upon a time commander of the concentration camp at which Setrakian was held. A character to watch closely is Vasily Fit played by Kevin Durand, a metropolitan rat-catcher with a thorough understanding of his peculiar but necessary trade. Another compelling character is Gus played by Miguel Gomez, a moderately reformed gangster who finds himself employed against his significant will by the vampires. This is a series filled with some strong and distinctive characters.
The vampires have a modern twist, similar in appearance and character to the mutated "Reapers", the vampire variant seen in Blade II, the one which Del Toro directed. There is a nice blend of classic horror and modern horror in this tale which uses the advantages of episodic television to create a mood of growing and impending doom.