Enough with bloody vampires! No pun intended

Featuring

Corey Stoll as Dr Ephraim Goodweather
David Bradley as Prof. Abraham Van Helsing er…Setrakian
Mia Maestro as Dr Nora Martinez
Kevin Durand as Vasilly Fet
Jonathan Hyde as Eldritch Palmer
with Richard Sammel as Thomas Eichorst
and Sean Astin as Jim Kent

Right…so, I’m going to say at the outset that I’m not the biggest fan of vampire stories. Thankfully, The Boss isn’t either, but we didn’t know that The Strain is about vampires when we set about watching the first episode. So yes, I’m likely to be extremely biased against the show in this review, which is based on a horror trope I think has been done to death, brought back to life and killed again. Just once, I wish they’d just stake it through the heart, cut its head off and stuff the carcass with garlic. And seriously? F*cking garlic? I get that garlic breath is bad, but it can’t possibly put off a demonic being with no soul.

Anyway, The Strain begins one dark, rainy night in New York, when an airliner from Berlin lands at JFK airport. So far, nothing out of the ordinary. Except that as the plane is taxiing to the aerobridge, it completely loses power and comes to a stop with no radio contact to indicate that anything is wrong. Everyone assumes that it is some sort of terrorist plot, but our hero, Dr Goodweather knows better and convinces everyone to stay away while he investigates the plane’s interior. Unsurprisingly, the discovery that everyone is dead, save for four people points to some sort of simultaneous and instantaneous outbreak.

What follows is a lot of nodding towards the original vampire novel, Dracula, where the vampires are transported in a box full of dirt, they must cross a body of water before a certain time, et cetera. Certainly, all stupid rules by which any organism is to live. Strangely, we also get to see a proper vampire early on in the episode, which appears to be nothing but a conglomerate of black smoke capable of moving at ridiculous speeds. Oh, and it also sucks the life right out of you, just like this plodding series.

I get that this series tries to do something different, which is to treat vampirism as purely a disease, and also examine how such a disease would spread through a densely populated city like New York. But, in all honesty, this whole thing could have been a more realistic drama about a disease, any disease. But why does it have to be about vampires? Why not ebola? Or some new superbug?

Perhaps I’m being too harsh on The Strain. Perhaps it will end up being some new revolution in television. But, I doubt it. There are simply too many iterations of vampire/werewolf/zombie media around and I’m quite frankly getting sick of it. There must be some other interesting kinds of folklore or mythology that can be busted on the television screen? We do have thousands of years of history from all over the world to go by.

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