Ever wondered how exciting trying to track a missing iPhone could be? This week ‘The Strain’ provides all the answers you will ever need. . . . .
After the provocative history lesson and dramatic subtlety which momentarily lifted things in programme nine, episode ten brings back inconsequential character segues and flashbacks with a vengeance. Entitled ‘The Loved Ones’ for reasons explained in the opening credits of episode one, it spends forty minutes hammering home the notion with all the subtlety of a Pamplona bull run. Once more we have an internet connection which works long enough to provide a plot point, while Abraham shuffles around handing out verbal platitudes and mournful looks like a bearded bag lady.
What made last week such a pleasure was the use of selective flashbacks which gave depth, expanded motivations and added to rather than diminished audience enjoyment. There was a perfect balance, clear movement plot wise, while character motives drifted into a grey area which fleshed things out further. That this week uses the equivalent of a screenwriting shoehorn and flashes back to present day proves a mistake.
Gone are the clear distinctions between time periods which worked so well, leaving us to watch all those bits swept up from the cutting room floor. You would be hard pushed to find a more gratuitous example of televisual spoon feeding outside the shopping channel. Plus why continue with these weekly recaps which consistently eat into at least two minutes of precious plot time. Both ‘House of Cards’ and ‘Breaking Bad’ felt no need to employ this tactic, implying what, that ‘The Strain’ fails to rank alongside those contemporaries in spite of both source material and proven talent?
Again I would suggest the answer is simple; the makers imply a lack of independent thought in their core audience. Not only does this manage to strip away any drama, to the point where any revelations barely register, but also it subconsciously suggests a lack of faith in the end product. Why else would you wish to remind people every week by recapping stuff an engaged audience would remember? Because either you consider you’re demographic group lacking in some way, or worse still as previously stated conviction is lacking. Whichever way you cut it nobody wins here.
Word to the wise from an amateur reviewer who pays attention; central themes once established need not be reiterated using characters with a limited life span, especially when it has been made clear how superfluous they are. Not only have we, the audience, been given little time to acquaint ourselves with a seemingly secondary character, but we will catch ourselves periodically reaching for that remote. After all you know how limited our attention span………