Thursday, October 6, 2016

31 Days of Halloween 2016: What I Am Watching

There is always something.... scary, or at least Halloween-friendly genre running on TV this season. Even if you drop Fear the Walking Dead, as I did, there are a few new shows that have popped up. One is about a mysterious apocalypse -- which has some creepiness to it, so not just disaster or po-ap. One is about a vampire plague -- no, not that vampire plague [The Strain], which I am ambivalent about resuming with season 3. Oh, and there is the other vampire one which has the cast doing their best to contain a vampire apocalypse. I guess, apocalypses are the order of the day.

Van Helsing, 2016, SyFy -- download

This is another of the loosely comic based genre shows with a female leading star. They are not quite Chicks with Daggers (and tramp stamps) but the intent is there. The comic is from that company that does the tasteless "sexy" Grimm Fairy Tales stories so I am not doing much background digging.

But damn, I like the show.

It starts po-ap, three years after a vampire plague devastated the US. It started with an eruption of the super volcano under Yellowstone National Park, which offers the vampires eternal twilight, and ends with a single marine holed up in a hospital watching over the sleeping body of a young woman who is supposed to be very important to what is going on. He has the only doctor locked in a cage, as she got bit and changed. Vampires here are a little bit zombie, a little bit infected. A single bite can turn you very quickly into a raving monster. But out there are some more intelligent vamps. And there are some things worse.

The marine lets in a small group of survivors in and things quickly fall apart. Its that tight little intro story that could have been a movie on its own. Conflict, distrust, loyalty and The Mission. At the end of 1 someone has let the vamps in and they attack Sleeping Beauty. She awakens and tears out the vamps throats with claws and bites. She seems as nasty as the blood drinkers, but biting her... changes them. And that turns the tide and saves the group.

Ep 2 was an origin story. We get Vanessa (get it?) trying to keep food on the table for her young daughter while the eruption makes things worse around her. The vamps discover her existence soon after she gives blood for money --- a hungry one sucks from her blood bag and .... reverts!  He is human again, and when he returns to the vampire nest, he is no longer one of them. But of course, the leaders need to find her and send their best. Vanessa is attacked and dies.

But not quite. She is not breathing. But her cells are still active and she is still warm. The doctor in charge of her autopsy is curious and calls her sister, a medical expert in the military. That brings the marines. The vampire plague is slowly happening outside. Vanessa is in a coma and the marines are there to watch over. And then that super volcano goes boom and the world falls apart.

The show is tight and tense and mysterious but has enough happening to not be annoying. Mysteries for the sake of them is just aggravating these days. I am still not sure how they will connect her to Abraham but I really don't care, as I like the world building it is doing.

Aftermath, 2016, SyFy -- download

Meanwhile, taking a completely different tack is the completely gonzo The Apocalypse is Happening NOW show Aftermath. In the opening episodes we get devastating storms, rains of fish and car parts, demons possessing bodies and flying away with teenagers, planet wrecking meteors on their way and a disease that makes people go violently insane. Biblical? End of Days? All possible. But does it give us any hints?  Nope.  It just gets the main characters running and doesn't stop.

Anne Heche is mom, ex-air force and tough is nails. The rest of the cast is unknown, but dad is a teacher of mythology and religion. The kids are the usual mix of capable and belligerent. Really, how else can teenagers be? Almost immediately Home is attacked and one of the twin daughters is spirited away by a possessed local who can fly. Emergency Services beckons them all to head to a small nearby city where the armed forces can protect them. But the family has to get there, while TXTing their daughter hoping she will survive her demon flight and reunite with them. And yes, she escapes her demon airflight attendant and connects with some friendly (but violent) bikers to take her to the city. Before they connect, a meteor takes out the town.

The show is so bloody fast paced you don't have time to do much more than WTF a few dozen times. There is no world building, no plot building no nothing, not even character building. Its just rush rush rush the apocalypse. For a show called Aftermath, I am not surprised it is full speed to the Post part of a Post Apocalypse.  I am quite eager to see where this completely insane show is going to go.

I suspect alien invasion.

From Dusk til Dawn, 2016, El Rey  -- Netflix

Meanwhile the other gonzo vampire show, the one based on the old Tarantino *ahem* Robert Rodriguez movie, is back for season three on Netflix, doing the one episode a week instead of the binge force like Luke Cage. From recreating the movie in the first season, while adding in a whole American (geography, not country) mythology to vampires, to an internal power struggle between the vampire Lords in season two, we have the new world in season three.

I have watched all three seasons, though didn't post about it for some reason. In this world, vampires are demons (Culebra) based on mesoamerican mythology but snake based. Fangs, venom and unique powers are the mainstays amongst them all. The Tittle Twister was a temple to the demon goddess they were manipulating, an ancient being who was created to be a worshipped slave manipulator of men for the Culebra Lords.

The Gecko Brothers get mixed up in it because the slave goddess Santanico Pandemonium had used her psychic powers to summon Richie Gecko to be her lover and protector, and free her from her servitude. But he gets attracted to the power offered by the Lords and becomes one of them. She gets pissed off and leaves.

When Season 3 starts Richie and Seth are working with the Lords on keeping a truce going. The absence of Santanico has caused a rift and without the Geckos, things could get all nasty for the humans. Balance is delicate. But then more demons show up, ones that once saw the Culebra as slaves and didn't like that they escaped to the Earth-y realm.

This show builds up ideas and dumps them almost every three episodes. Nothing is safe, nothing is sacred. It has a lot of fun expanding on the mythos while keeping the main cast moving forward. It is also very connected to its Latin American backing which sets the tone completely off from everything else on TV. Maybe there is a bit of telenovela in there? Not sure. This is not great TV at all, but a lot of fun.