Season: 1. Episode(s): 1-4.
Created by: Robert Kirkman.
Nothing like a horror/supernatural television show based on a popular comic with religious overtones, a loner with a checkered past, and mysterious figures meandering in the background…wait.
Yeah, that pretty much sums up the latest installment in the rising formula of television shows that have started coming out in the past little while.
Despite its cookie cutter formula it does have its own strengths that make it stand out, though it is equally hobbled by its own weaknesses as well.
First the main character.
Kyle Barnes (Patrick Fugit) is…likable in a scruffy slovenly sort of way. Though one expects to here Sara McLaughlin crooning in the background as far as his personality goes, the tormented kicked puppy being his dominant character setting.
Certainly he has a reason, but as a lead character, he comes across as one dimensional and kind of boring, with the only break in character monotony when he gets violent once and while, but otherwise its rather bland which is something that will hopefully be addressed as the season goes along.
Next the side-characters.
The support cast is fortunately stronger then the main character, and their side stories so far are one of the elements carrying the show so far.
The adoptive sister, Megan (Wren Schmit), is engaging. She’s plucky and otherwise drags her brother into the world of the living. She has strength, a sense of humor, and believable vulnerability. Her dynamic with her brother and with her husband Mark (David Denman) is particularly good.
Her presence as the only female protagonist though isn’t promising for female audiences though, something that has been a problem with Kirkman’s work, particularly in the early seasons of The Walking Dead, though to be fair, it isn’t quite as bad as that…yet.
The Reverend Anderson (Philip Glenister) is a bit of an ass, and not in the entertaining way, though I give him credit in being written better then the main focus write now. The yet revealed background seems hopefully promising, and his dynamic in relation to his congregation and the town also holds promise as the show progresses for character development and growth, but as yet he doesn’t really stick out as a memorable character, and is perhaps the weakest of the support cast.
Outside of Megan, the best side character has to be the Chief Giles (Reg E. Cathey) whose mysterious maneuverings, as subtle as they are at the moment, is actually interesting to watch, particularly with his current knowledge of the supernatural elements running rampant through his town.
On the other end of the bored we have the antagonists.
It’s hard to really formulate a conclusive opinion of the “demons” that appear to be the main antagonists supernatural force. The show has yet to pin down exactly what they are exactly or their motives. When they are their though, they do a good job of presenting a disturbing presence that is perfectly creepy to watch. This is a good quality in an antagonist, but without some sort of nailed down motivation of why they are what they are, the “evil because they are” is a weak foundation.
The presence of Sidney, a mysterious black fedora man with the star power of the show, Brent Spinner, fresh off Independence Day: Resurgence brings hope that the antagonists won’t be entirely one dimensional in said foundation, though his particular character trope of shadowy figure may mean that the mystery will be milked for all its worth, though his mystery combined with Spinner’s acting, will likely be one of the biggest draws for the show outside of the shock value imagery.
Speaking of mystery, that brings us to the story.
Without having read the comics I can’t draw any comparisons in that quarter, but what has been shown hasn’t been to bad, not spectacular, and a bit confusing in parts, but not bad, though the strongest elements lying in the side stories and the action scenes.
The story has done a decent job so far in establishing the type of town this is set in with a chance for further growth going along with a good plot pace.
The weakest points lie in certain elements left unexplained, such as why Kyle is blamed for hurting his daughter Amber when in a flashback it was, sort of, established that his wife was the one that attacked their daughter.
Why would he leave if he had thought she was the one to attack Amber, particularly when he didn’t exactly believe in demons during that period? Was he mistaken as the culprit? Did his wife forget? Was he powerless to stop the accusations? Why didn’t he fight it if he believed his wife hurt his daughter?
While normally this would be an only vague annoyance in a side character or background characters, the fact that it is part of the main character, and the focal reason for why he is a social outcast in the first place, makes it confusing plot hole.Hopefully this will also be flushed out in further episodes, that or one blinked and missed it.
Overall, though it suffers from a rather unimpressive main character that really needs to be flushed out, and some glaring plot issues in his portrayal that need to be addressed, it is still early in the first season yet, and its weaknesses will have a good chance to improve further in. The show does have good mystery, decent side characters, Spinner, and some legitimately creepy well rendered moments courtesy of the demons, makes this show worth a gander.
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