Season One, Episode One thru Six:
I was in Shreveport in June of 2009 with some fellow fang friends. A long discussion took up the distance between Shreveport and Monroe about how del Toro could be a genius for writing a “true” vampire book. I got home and went straight to the book store. At the end of 2011, I jumped right into the Dark Horse graphic novel adaptation. As you could imagine, when FX stepped in and the pilot was in the works, I was like a kid on Christmas morning.
I was happy to see FX was not afraid to auspiciously display monsters that are terrifying while still keeping heroes that are worth cheering for. What more can you ask for really?
The show does have some "raise the eyebrow and try not to laugh" moments worth noting. For example, the air traffic controller's genius statement concerning the plane “This looks so much bigger than the ones on the screen, like a building with wings”. I thought “Did that airport hire Ted Theodore Logan?" Whoa. That aside, even before they entered the plane, there were stark resemblance to the comics and novels.
A winning aspect for the show was the personalization of those people on the plane. A look at them before the other shoe dropped. The show takes the opportunity to introduce us. We see how obnoxious Bolivar can be, impatient the lawyer Joan Luss is, and the adorable french conversation between Emma and the flight attendant makes us adore her. When Emma’s corpse reappears later, the impact of the situation feels like a punch directly to the heart. As a fan of all the 3 forms (novel, comics, show), it was like the scene walked off the page.
Now it is with out doubt not a show for the week stomach sorts. First episode has the noted “dead?” Emma, Sekrakian threatening to cut arteries open and proceeding to feed blood to a worm infested heart in his secret room. Oh, and did I forget to say, he has a VERY large silver vampire slaying sword? To top that off, it is shaped like what looks to be a wolf’s head. How awesome is that? A subtle illustration of del Toro’s ascetically creative work. This attention to details has been pretty consistent throughout the show so far. And that was just the start. Each episode takes sketches and paragraphs and recreates them seamlessly.
Ok, back to the “oh no he didn’t” chuckle comment, with a splash of “cheese”… I understand the need for character development. Yet, the Eph's family council session seemed to focus more on a ringing phone and the audacity of driving through NY in a green Prius, was a bit silly. The show is attempting to direct you to have an emotional tie to these people but all I remember is that Eph’s ex is dating the Sear’s Man Child and Zach can not be coached. But I digress.
Fans know the characters and their perks and flaws. Those just starting the show lacking the background of the books are in a position that they can easily be brought up to speed. I believe show watchers will come to ignore the force-fed character development and come to understand Eph and Nora's weaknesses, what pushes Bad-to-the-Bone Abraham Setakian, Gus and how he is the gangster bad-good guy, and by E2, the awesome introduction of Vesiliy Fet - rat killer extraordinaire. I feel it is best compared to the Vampire war’s equivalent to the Justice League.
But we can not leave out the opposing Legion of Doom characters like Thomas Eichorst, the best nazi make-up artist out there. Or Eldritch Palmer, the evil 1%-er we all love to hate.
Each have been given more screen and story time than the “Master”, but in someways I like this change. It makes the limited story we do know even more intriguing and keeps us alert and completely prepared for what ever will come.
Now onto the stingers and worms! Let’s start by going back to the del Toro’s style. He has a style that stands alone, a signature look. Remembering my “I am obsessed with Blade” days, I find there is a close comparison between the vampires of The Strain to the Reapers in Blade 2. You can take it one step further and compare both to the Kaiju in the bunker scene of Pacific Rim. The tongue seeking out Newt looks a lot like the Reaper's - that signature dental/tongue protuberance I have come to know from del Toro.
In the Toronto Sun interview del Toro says “ The relationship we have with parasites is symbolic…It just takes one of them, the master, to go rogue for the whole precarious balance to be upset”. Look into any blood sucking parasite and you can see the substance behind these creatures.
Lastly, what goes without saying, we should be grateful for a series with a vampire that will not sparkle in the sunlight, enjoy a romantic dinner and definatly not one that you want to take home for a flop in the hay. Instead you get the “Are there monsters under my bed?” sorts. With the eclipse in motion, I’d say “RUN!”.
What do you guys think? Are you enjoying the series thus far? Did you read the novel or the novel or the graphic novel? How well do you think they're doing transitioning the story to the television screen?