The Strain has finally made its way to television. The story was initially envisioned by creator Guillermo Del Toro as a television show, but he ended up writing it as a novel with Chuck Hogan after he couldn’t find any buyers for it. However, after a successful stint as a series of novels and as a comic book adapted by Dark Horse, it was picked up by FX for a small screen adaptation.
The story opens with a plane going dark on the runway of JFK Airport in New York City. No one is able to communicate with the crew or anyone on board, and no calls or other form of communication has come from the plane. Dr. Ephraim “Eph” Goodweather (Corey Stoll) and the members of his CDC Canary Team are the first to board the plane to make sure that there aren’t any contagions involved. They find only four survivors of the over 200 passengers on the flight and a strange coffin that is not listed on the cargo manifest.
Abraham Setrakian (David Bradley), a pawnshop owner, appears to have answers about what is going on. He goes to the airport to try and convey his warnings to the CDC crew, but they think he is crazy, at least at first.
Then there is Eldritch Palmer (Jonathan Hyde), a dying billionaire who appears to have orchestrated the arrival of the coffin and the beginning of the strange plague that took place on the plane.
The pilot for The Strain jumps between these characters and some others as the horrors of the contagion begin to unfold. The personal lives of the characters are touched on, but none of them has had a great deal of individual screen time to become more developed. Stoll’s character, Dr. Goodweather, has been given the most thus far as he appears to be the central protagonist. As the show continues, I expect this is something that will be remedied, but as it stands the pilot was rather more plot heavy.
The plot was also roughly what you might expect, or at least it has been thus far. The vampires begin to spread slowly, and the CDC is too out of their depth to stop what’s going on. Of course they also turn down help from the one man who knows what’s going on because he appears to be crazy. It’s pretty standard stuff for a vampire or zombie story.
So why should you watch this show? Well, it’s only one episode in, and despite my lukewarm description, the show is very fun to watch. The actors are good, and while their characters have yet to achieve great depth, they still bring them to life quite well. And while the plot is familiar so far, can you really expect too much more from a vampire/zombie kind of story? If you enjoy those types of movies or shows, then you should enjoy how this one unfolds as well.
I also, to be honest, have a good deal of faith in FX. Justified and Fargo are among my favorite shows, and they have a knack for picking up quality productions. Based on this alone, I expect that The Strain will continue to develop and become stronger as it goes. That being said, even if it doesn’t get too much better, it’s certainly entertaining now.