Does “The Strain” Look Sort of Bland to You?

Ephraim Goodweather, The Strain

Maybe it’s just me, maybe I got off on the wrong foot with this show, but the last time I had so much trouble connecting with the characters on a show was when I first started watching Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and hey, they got a whole lot better at their game over time.

Maybe it’s the fact that I just got into watching Fringe last week and the beginning is near identical — down to the airplane in question coming from a German airport. Maybe it’s the fact that I was so thrown and caught off guard and plainly ticked off by the fact that the thing they used for Eph’s character intro was his failing marriage…. look, he’s a jerk. A jerk who’s trying to better himself, maybe, but he’s still a jerk, and if the looming divorce act is supposed to make me feel for him or identify with him… it’s not working. I’m not saying that a protagonist can’t be a jerk. Hell, look at Sherlock Holmes, in whatever incarnation: always a jerk. Always one of my favourite fictional characters. That’s because he’s got something working for him, because he’s got something about him that fascinates people — well, two things. His work, and John/Joan Watson. Eph doesn’t. He might be brilliant at his job, I am sure he is, but I’m not seeing that. I’m not seeing anything about him that is remotely connected to the case, I just see him and his personal problems.

The Personal Lives of No-one Cares

Another male lead whose marriage goes to shit because he prioritises his work. He goes to AA meetings, he’s in therapy. Yawn. Also yawn: the workplace romance. He works with a female colleague, of course there’s a romance sub-plot. Of course. I cannot tell you how much that bores me.

Nora might be brilliant, but she’s bland, too, aside from the fact that she catches on to the whole coffin deal a lot faster and is more inclined to stick with her guns on this. And then there’s Jim, and he’s just sort of there, and the mandatory unwilling double agent — and I love, love, love Sean Astin, but it’s just not great material for him to work with? They’re all so… flat. The dialogue is bland. I’m not hearing wit, I’m not hearing verve. The only time there was any great emotion was during Eph’s soliloquy at the AA meeting — is this a show about a guy losing his wife due to his own shitty ways and coping strategies, or is this a show about a paranormal parasite making people into creepy-eepy vampires? I’m just asking.

And if that whole bringing the head vampire to New York thing comes down to one old dude searching for eternal youth, I might sprain my thumb pressing stop on the remote.

I watched the first two episodes back to back, a habit that usually works well for me in terms of first impressions of a new show, but I’m not sure I’ll give this one another go past the third. It just didn’t tickle me.

Did it tickle you?

Next: Gone Smooth.


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