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The Strain S01E02: "The Box"

Hey guys, remember last week when I really liked the series premiere of The Strain? Those were good times. I know some of you liked it and some of you thought it was capital-L Lame, but I think there will be a lot more consistency of opinion with Episode 2, "The Box," because it was a lot like the pilot but without all the good parts. It appears that the show is already struggling to extend its story into a full 13-episode season, because "The Box" barely moved the plot forward and spent too much time on the wrong things.

I don't think that means The Strain can't recover, but it's baffling to me that the second episode of a vampire horror drama would feature so few vampires or a little horror as "The Box" did. Instead, the hour—which could've been spent splashing blood all over the place or forcing us to watch through our fingers (the reason many of us tuned in in the first place)—focused on fleshing out Eph's alcoholism, Eph's domestic problems, Matt's renovation of Ep's house, and Gus's fractured relationship with his troubled brother. Gangbangers are cool and all, but not when they're whining about their siblings' unfulfilled potential and criminal activity. 

I'm all for character development because it's the backbone of all great drama, but given that The Strain's pilot established that the dialogue will regularly run into glass doors and rely on horror clichés to pick it up, it's already been made clear The Strain isn't trying to be great. Eph's personal struggles may pay off down the line (though does anyone really think they will?), but as of right now, they're not at all compelling. If you're invested in Eph's battle for custody of his son, then you're watching The Strain for the wrong reasons. All it does is hinder the gorefest the show could—and should—be.


The only interesting aspect of "The Box" dealt with the four survivors of the plane: the Rocker, the Lawyer, the Pilot, and the Spooky Geek (and that's how I'll refer to them from now on, because that's all they are to me). As much as The Strain is a show about vampires, it's even more about an outbreak—but the feds are making it awfully hard to contain it by letting these survivors walk around as if they're perfectly healthy people, despite the fact that they look like they're halfway to becoming a ghost. This week, the Rocker banged a a few broads because that's what rocker dudes do, and he got extra kinky when he sunk his teeth into a floozie's neck, because that's what vampires do. 

We all knew that these survivors would eventually develop the taste for blood, so it was up to the writers to make their transition interesting. But it wasn't interesting. At all. Nor was it campy in a fun way. It was just there, and in the case of a threesome in which one party tries to eat another, "not interesting" should never be part of the description. The Lawyer is going to sue everyone she can—which, fine, why not? Maybe she'll end up being important and exposing a greater conspiracy. The Pilot is willing to help Eph and Nora figure out what's going on, but again, where's the tension? And the Spooky Geek has barely played a role in anything. Perhaps if one of these people looked in a mirror, they'd see what we see: They are not doing well! As a result, they all just seem a little dumb and not even concerned that 99 percent of their fellow passengers from the plane are DEAD. 


Elsewhere, things were even more boring with Eph. He dropped by his ex-wife's house and chatted with his ex-wife's old friend whose name he couldn't remember, and then he learned that his ex-wife and her new man are remodeling his old office into a game room. And then he talked to his kid about what to say the custody hearing. Snooze-a-rama, dude! What's more, Eph's visit to the Alcoholics Anonymous meeting didn't do anything but repeat what we already knew about him; it reeked of The Strain stalling to put 44 minutes of television on the screen. If we're going to learn something about Eph, how about we learn it by watching him fight vampires instead of jumping through legal hoops? And that scene with Gangbanger Gus getting mad at his brother for stealing a clock might've been even more pointless than taking a vampire to a salad bar. I wanted to murder that scene, because I just don't care about Gus's brother at all. No one should care about Gus's brother. Even Gus shouldn't care about his brother. Come to think of it, should we even care about Gus?

At the very end of the hour, our terrifying little friend Emma shot her brand-new super-tongue into her daddy's neck and made him take a facedown bath with her. FINALLY! But by that point, "The Box" had already done irreparable damage, and was lost to pointless scenes full of repetitive and unnecessary character development. You know how sometimes you get a big bag of potato chips and you get super excited to eat them and then you open the bag and realize it's mostly air inside? That was "The Box." I'm guessing The Strain is already struggling to fill out its 13-episode first season, because there's really no excuse for slowing things down this much. Such a disappointment.  


NOTES


– The new exterminator character, played by Lost's Kevin Durand, has potential. But so far, all we know about him is that he shuts down restaurants. 

– Ha, the "It's like a dead animal" line appeared in the "Previously on The Strain..." segment. I would've tried to forget that clunker.

– That dude who got his head crushed in the first episode? His name was Peter Bishop! That can't be a coincidence, can it, Fringe fans? 

– There wasn't any storybook-style narration at the beginning and the end of this episode—yay or nay? 

– It appears that we now have confirmation that Abraham's heart in a jar belongs to his old flame.


Previously Aired Episode

AIRED ON 10/4/2015

Season 2 : Episode 13

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My favorite thing about this show, other than the great casting, is the pacing of it. It feels like a movie to me and my favorite part of most movies, especially horror movies, are the first 20-30 minutes before the non-stop chaos. A lot of people enjoy the slow burn and actually have the attention span and patience to sit through the backstory.
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I don't mind back-story and slow-burn and all of that in moderation.

Episode two had less Vampire/Contagion than episode one is the problem.

It's like slow-burn suddenly became fires-gone-out.

One episode should set up the next one not backtrack, as I've said before the issues I had with 'the box' episode has more to do with things that should have been done up front maybe in a 2 hour premiere to set the stage.


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Since this review is so blatantly negative, I'll be blunt too. This is a totally unfair review, in my opinion and it un-informs under the guise of a review. The episode was in no way terrifyingly slow but it developed the plot's various stories as I would expect and, quite naturally it was less hectic than the pilot but it was no filler again IMO. Personally I thought it was a fine episode and it is a choice of the show to include Eph's personal journey as a recovering alcoholic and not great parent/husband rather than a typical hero with no flaws. I find that rewarding but whoever wants a hero with no family constraints / flaws clearly will be better off watching other shows...
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I'd rather see a show about Vampires/Contagion outbreaks than an AA meeting.
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The AA meeting was clunky exposition to tell, not show, Eph's feelings about his son. It had a reason for being there, even if it wasn't well-executed.
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Only 2 minutes of this episode was on the AA meeting. Most of the episode was the show you seem to want.
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3 minutes at the end had a dead kid in a tub.

3 minutes in the mid-end had a creepy morgue scene.

2 minutes in jail had a Nazi talking with Prof. Setrakian.

That was Vampire/Contagion related, and I'm being fairly liberal with some of that.

The rest was fluff I'd expect to see on some campy True Blood series, not a Guillermo del Torro flick.


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True Blood is campy because it is non-stop Vampires, Werewolves, and other Supernatural crap. What makes for good horror are when these types of things are used sparingly. We need the real-world stuff because it grounds the characters and makes the fictional world seem more real and the characters reaction to the Supernatural stuff more relatable.


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hear, hear!
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I went into episode 2 expecting it to be boring, like this review implied. Instead, the episode seemed to fly by rather quickly and I was looking forward to more. I think all of this was necessary character development and backstory before everything goes crazy. I haven't read the books but I like everything I've watched so far, I want to read them. Also, there quite some interesting scenes such as Setrakian/Eichorst conflict, Bolivar's blood sucking, the meeting of The Master, and the creepy girl bathtub scene. I'm looking forward to the series, and thankfully, episode 2 shows that The Strain is good (better dialogue and acting in this episode).
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Soooo, if you had actually read the book, you would understand how important the box actually is to the story. Not just literally the box, but the episode in total
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Why am I required to read the friggin' book in order to enjoy the tv series?! Just because the episode might be important somewhere down the line doesn't detract from the fact it was a snooze fest and I couldn't believe what I was watching.

Characters acting dumb or just plain stupid. Dialogues were sillier than last week. Only good thing about the episode was the confrontation between Abraham and that Bad guy I don't know the name of.
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I disagree with half of your last paragraph. I actually thought the dialogue was an improvement from the pilot and the characters didn't really do silly things in this one. I haven't read the book but I thought this was an enjoyable second episode ( they're usually bad for tv shows).
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The characters are wasting my time. I didn't tune in to The Strain to watch a newer version of Family Affairs. But it's all become much better now so the second episode is forgiven (almost).
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Bad Guy = Eichorst. Everyone seems to like the fact that Setrakian and Eichorst spoke. It really was the highpoint of a snoozer of an episode.

You shouldnt have to read the book, but if you did, you'd see half the story is missing from the show.
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Eichorst. That's it. Give me him and Abram all day long, and I'll be a happy camper.
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So you are saying the tv show requires everyone to read the book in order to understand it?

That seems pretty ridiculous.

Is there a certain beverage and deli sandwich I also have to eat in order to get the tv series?

That's me being as ridiculous as you're comment was in regards to the episode and how we'd have to be able to understand or enjoy it.

And I'm not stupid, I understand the box is important, it has dirt from his home country in it, Vampire 101 lore I learned in kindergarten.

All the character building in "the box" is also probably going to be important eventually also, Me and the reviewer Tim (probably, I can't speak for him) understand all that. Never said it didn't have any future merit.

All we are saying is that it was BORING.
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I agree with Tim, mostly. Yes, it was a slow episode and there was a lot of unnecessary, repetitive character development and definitely not enough horror BUT I still liked it. I like Eph, I like Gus, I even like Eph's CDC partner (why can't I ever remember her name?), I like the rocker, AND I'm super excited about the exterminator character. That said, I was kind of expecting the "outbreak" to become apparent in this episode or at least see rumblings of an outbreak. I mean, all those vamps (who kind of seem more like vampire-zombie hybrids to me) got out of the morgue, didn't they?
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I find it extraordinary that they need filler episodes already.
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The scene with Gus' brother and the clock was to tie the episode back to Setrakian. It was the same clock that the two thugs stole in the pilot episode and, obviously, Gus' brother was the thug who tried to steal the bills.
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My naive self didn't even know this show was focused on a form of parasitic vampire. And I think for the entirety of those watching television, it is developing in such a way that makes viewers come back. Suspense it's a great tactic for that. But also, come on guys, don't get so butt hurt. It's television. And suspense is a tactic to retain viewers. So after my rambling, I'd like to just sum up to say, I think they're doing what they can develop story and attract viewers who are interested in story and can appreciate plot, and not prepubescent boys who can't get enough violence and gore because they have a bad home life.
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All the other stuff happening made me think this show wants to be an edgy soap opera with a gang of vampires for good measure. Not my cup of tea, I'm afraid, so I'm tuning out quicker than a vampire inside a beer factory.
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Showing a guy go to an AA meeting, after watching his kid rebuild his office into a game room isn't suspense.

Showing a guy close down a restaurant for rats isn't suspense.

Showing a guy 'promise to do one good deed' by returning a clock his brother stole isn't suspense.

As others have said as if it wasn't clear, these are character builders, which in their own right isn't bad if not overdone.

However having multiple characters get all their character building done for the next 5 seasons in a single episode while barely showing any of the contagion or vampires the show has been promoting nonstop to gain viewers is just dull.

The morgue scene was suspenseful, the bathroom scene or scene with the father in his kitchen calling the CDC guy to thank him for returning his dead daughter was suspenseful.

Now if we knew the new father figure in his son's life was infected, that entire scene at the house would have been suspenseful because you'd be left wondering if blood sucking attacks would happen right then or not. But we knew it wasn't going to happen because the show hasn't progressed that far yet.
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That makes sense, I guess suspense isn't the right word. Rising action maybe? Characterization?
Basically, rather than the whole show being a random blood bath, it has the characteristics of an actual story. But yes I agree not all the scenes were suspenseful
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Tusk, tusk, tusk, pull your head in Tim. With all your review commitments, maybe you're spreading yourself somewhat thin too?
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I enjoyed it. Usually not a Vampires show kind of fan, but have found the first two eps. interesting and compelling. I notice that my opinion of some of these Sci-Fi or Vampire shows differ from the people that watch these all the time, I have no problem with anything they've done thus far in the Strain. Good stuff.
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I wanted to murder that scene, because I just don't care about Gus's brother at all. No one should care about Gus's brother. Even Gus shouldn't care about his brother. Come to think of it, should we even care about Gus?

You're in the running for bitterest person on the planet, Tim. Maybe consider that it IS based on existing material, material that has finished its story.

Maybe consider that if the creators of the show (also the creators of the books) are outlining a character like Gus, that they thought it was for a good reason, based on what he is in the books.

Maybe consider that they are largely trying to give us the characters first, so that when eventually things go to hell, we know exactly who's gonna be kicking vampire ass.

Finally, take your own advice and enjoy all of the ride. Not every part of a roller coaster has you hurling upside down.

The only case you might have is that it maybe could have been better as a Netflix, release-all-at-once deal. That way people's impatience wouldn't be confused for critical analysis.

I loved the episode. It was as magnificently cheesy as I wanted it to be and gave me plenty of popcorn moments.
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the way the book is laid out is nothing like the series. it movies at the same pace, but all time shifting backstory has been removed from the series. if you're familiar with the book, you can see how it hurts the series . if youre not familiar with the book, it just seems like the series is showing a bunch of boring irrelevant shit that no one cares about. the series cut away an essential part of setrakian and the master's backstories that shouldve brought us to where we are comprehensively, rather than having viewers fumbling about in darkness, wondering where the hell things are going.

Tim's quips are completely justified, and what the hell does any of it have to do with ''bitterness"?
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I practically devoured those books in less than a week. It's entirely possible the intent is to deliver that backstory in other ways, farther down the line, with the visual medium able to reveal a lot very quickly if needed.

So, if I'm familiar with the books, and do like what they're doing with Gus and the other characters, and am having fun with what's happening, then I'm just not sure as to what some people's expectations were of the show.

I expected an adaptation, with all the challenges that go with it and so far it's succeeding in being a well written (along with all the amazingly cheesy, intentionally bad dialogue), fun story.

As for the "bitterness", it was reflected from what I feel is an exaggerated reaction to something that was far better than what the review offers.
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It is possible they intend to bring in parts of the backstory later, but the damage is already done.

You're having fun with what's happening because youre familiar with the backstory.

I watched the first two episodes before ever picking up the books and thought episode 1 was fine, but episode two failed to progress the story in any meaningful way. It also avoided helping viewers to piece together what they'd already seen.

It really did seem like bunch of boring irrelevant events and JS was avoided like the plague. I was so bored, and disappointed after episode two's lack of progress that I didnt see any need to continue watching. Knowing the backstory, I don't think you can know what its like to watch the first two eps "blind". I think this blindness is the basis of every complaint on this thread.
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You're absolutely right. I don't understand why the second episode had to be this boring when there's tons of stuff going on.
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I wish I could "like" a comment multiple times! ^^^^^What Rykros said!
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Hey, we finally got to see Fet... do almost nothing... Ah well, those who read ahead know there is lots and lots of fun in store for his character in the future! Unfortunately, they're really spending way too much time fleshing out Eph's backstory, especially when most of those parts aren't even that important later down the road. If they wanted to focus on anyone's backstory, Setrakian's is full of nightmares and intrigue enough to warrant a series all his own!
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Exactly. If they focused on Setrakian's backstory, I doubt we'd hear a single complaint about this show.
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I think his review is spot on.
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I think Corey Stoll's on-screen presence is strong enough for just about anything he does in this show. Like the AA monologue. I wasnt bored at all during this episode, and I don't expect to be in the next ones either. There's always something scary lurking just around the corner here, which sort of puts me on the edge of my seat (at least halfway to the edge). And if this "thing" that "killed" the people on the plane really is a contagion, and is spreading, we're in for a lot of nastiness in the weeks ahead...
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I'm willing to bet at least 3 more restaurants, 2 bars and a deli get closed by the rat inspector.


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Tim, stop doing reviews. This episode may be less exciting but was still good. At no point was I bored or were other I know personally bored by this episode.
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Tim can't stop. It's a compulsion, a calling even! You don't just give up on your calling because it upsets a few thousand people, you push on and keep going. One day they'll appreciate your brilliance!
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:) Exactly!
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Something I found revealing: This season of The Strain will consist of 13 hour long episodes (more or less). The audiobook is read over the course of 13 hours. The book is a time-shifting mystery & history for the first 7 hours. About 8 hours in it becomes a know your enemy educational, which begins preparation for the task at hand. This is when it becomes particularly interesting. This is the point when it becomes what most people expect it to be.

If you found episode two boring, don't expect redemption for at least another 120 minutes.
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Sorry, but my free time is quite precious to me. Do you mean I will have to slog through 5-6 more episodes until something interesting happen?

No thanks.
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I seriously hope not, but if theyre following the progression of the book and leaving out the back story, I'd say the next two episodes will be snoozers. I hope FX wont allow them to bore viewers for another 120 minutes, but this is a worst case scenario. I understand your apprehension. I was gonna skip the next two episodes, then watch a three episode mini marathon on demand.

The thing is, you need to know the backstory to appreciate what you've seen. Fx may decide to delve into it in the next episode. If theyre smart, thats what they'll do. If Not, it will likely be another snoozer, and I doubt they'll reveal The Master before Jusuf Sardou.

I suggest you get the audiobook, or skip the next two episodes.
ddl link

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The other problem with that is the typical episode only runs about 40-43 minutes sans commercials, and that much of the written portion is used to describe a setting that can be witness in a blink of an eye.

Still, none of this changes the fact that yes, there is a great deal of boring events to cross over before things start really going down. Sort of like lining up all the dominoes before you're ready to watch them all fall down.
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I don't know whose idea it was to omit the time shifting, but that was too important to omit. the time shifting is what makes the first part of the book interesting & compelling, because it gives context to current events. without it we see much of what looks like random irrelevant events.
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Probably a bunch of hack producers that thought random = mysterious.
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Peter Bishop! I guess someone noticed that the first half of The Strain's pilot was the Fringe pilot with the serial numbers filed off.
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The show is great Tim (at least so far)! Period.
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Really? It's a boring slog with uninteresting characters so far. How's that "great"?
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Isn't it so interesting that the most popular comments are the ones that disagree with you Tim?
I did the good thing and read the 3 books before the show started airing, so I can tell you so far that the show follows a great deal the steps of the first book, at least so far.
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Its not interesting in the least, because (most of the time), people who don't like a show are people who don't bother to read the reviews. So they won't be thumbing up anything. 37 people voted they should never watched this boring episode. Yet others frown, and callout Tim for being honest.
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If only I had an actual keyboard, I would let loose here everything that sucked about this episode. My parents think I'm crazy for not getting into book, and now I have to watch them enjoy this show because they want rub in my face how much enjoyed they book. Parents just don't understand!
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The books aren't for everyone, and even then, they change gears and focus so much that even those who may have enjoyed the beginning would likely hate the ending, and vice versa.
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What? I thought this episode was good! Can't wait for more!
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I had a bad feeling last week when we spent so much time in a lawyer office, and this second episode was everything I was afraid of. It was so b-o-r-i-n-g. I don't care about family drama, or your recovery from alcoholism, there are other shows for that. I'll give you a last chance Show, but you better be good !
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I absolutely love this show. First show in like ages I have watched the epis repeatedly.
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I'm very curious to know what it is you "absolutely" love about it.
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What do you "absolutely" love about it ?
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The waiting. Yea thats it. Something's gonna happen soon.....I just know it!
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Honestly, I think the show "Sleep Hallow" does a great job of balancing out campy horror, action, mystery, and drama. The first season gets really great in the last few episodes. The Strain producers and writers should take note of the universe building they have done.

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Straight horror just doesn't work very well. You almost have to be campy and comical to make it work with most audiences. Serious horror is just too hard to take serious.
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The problem with the second episode were the same as the first, weak characterization, hum drum dialogue, no particular character which I truly cared about (except for the old Holocaust survivor but he was stuck in prison). I get the whole "parody" of the genre, but it needs to more of the heightened "balls-out craziness" for me to laugh with it, and not face-palming at it. I just don't find the main character's custody of his son story-line interesting, and they tend to drag on.
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I totally agree with you. I don't understand what's going on most of the time. What is the actual conflict of the show and when will something significant happen?
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I'm still very upset they've spent so much time on Eph's backstory. He's generally the least interesting character throughout most of the series. They really need to be telling more of Setrakian's backstory and more of the positioning of the Stoneheart Group to keep the ball rolling.
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Nice to see Tim back in his "I love it!", "I hate it!", "It's too simple", "It's not simple enough" schizophrenic mode of reviewing shows.

There's no point in watching The Leftovers after 4 episodes and The Strain is "looking to recover" after just 2. Pretty soon he'll be snubbing shows based on nothing but the advanced trailer...oh, wait...

{sigh}
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His opinions really suck. He actually thought this week's ep of Under The Dome was good, yet he thought The Strain sucked (no pun intended)
What I don't get is the fact that all he wants to watch is a bloodbath each week (like he does with The Walking Dead) How the hell is that entertaining?
Fine, you don't like any of the characters, but you have to at least try to develop them in the best way possible, I expect some scares, but i don't expect it every single episode.
Such a ridiculous critique.
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Uh, no. You need to read his review of this week's train wreck UtD episode again. Tim did not think that episode was anything remotely like "good."
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the way people talk about dome I don't know how its still on tv.
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What I don't get is the fact that all he wants to watch is a bloodbath each week (like he does with The Walking Dead) How the hell is that entertaining?

I think that's what irks me more than anything else. I believe the, "more zombies!" approach ensures a poor The Walking Dead episode. Focus on the lowest common denominator and all the stuff like acting, writing and story get left along the side of the road...and Tim knows that, so hard to understanding his wish and comparison for it here.
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Don't tell me it was interesting to see Eph chat with his ex-wife, chat with his son, chat with a bunch of strangers in his AA meeting. Then go and chat some more with random people.

While he's doing that, NOTHING else is happening. Some police guy looks for rodents in a restaurant. Yeah, hilarious. Great.
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Tim's critique is spot on. He doesnt have to look at things the way you do. He's not giving your opinion, he's giving his own. Strain 02 was a damned snoozefest.
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I feel like you defending Tim undermines the credibility of the accurate points you made about the episode.
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I feel like you need to scroll down to the very first comment on this page, I made it before even reading Tim's review. You can look at the poll and see that 30 some people thought it was boring. It takes a little more than suspense to entertain some people.
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Dude, the strain episode two was really really bad, and its just starting out. that really means a lot for the survival and success of the show. There are probably a lot of people who won't ever watch the show again. A new show has to hook people and make them want more. Sleepy Hollow had a helluva hook coming out. The first ep of TS was pretty much what you'd expect from the first part of a horror movie. It went off without a hitch. The second ep did little to progress the story. Does it take 60 minutes for a guy to get out of a parked car? It was a boring bait and switch.
So far, little of Abraham's backstory has made it into the show, and its very interesting. They opted to omit/delay this in favor of 12 step monologuing? It's boring and disappointing to say the least.

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You say it was really bad, that's fine. Everyone's opinions are subjected. I always thought that by definition, a reviewer's were supposed to be objective and not write off a show after one episode he didn't enjoy episode.

I'm not one for instant gratification and am more than happy to give a series with potential some leash. If I have up on every show that struggled early on, I'd miss out on quite a bit.

I clearly didn't see this as the absolute disaster that yourself and Tim did, which is also fine.
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I agree with antmorris3511. The pilot was mildly interesting with some intriguing bits thrown in. But the second episode was boring. I'm not one who seeks instant gratification, but there has to be something tangible, or at least an interesting plot line to follow. So far there's nothing interesting, just a bunch of random story events loosely connected.
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You cant really say it struggled early on because it only had two episodes, but some people hated both of them. Thats bad for a series trying to build a following. Most critics will watch a movie and mention their likes and dislikes in a review, but there has to be something to like, or no likes will be mentioned. Yup its totally subjective. I'm not ready to stop following the show, but I probably wont clear my sunday 10pm slots for the foreseeable future.

I'm 6 hours into The Strain's 13 hour audiobook, and the book has only progressed to the next day. The development is super-slow but it isnt detailed enough to justify the drag.
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@antmorris3511 - Last season TWD took the Walking part of the Walking Dead VERRRRY seriously. Too seriously some might say....
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I have watched True Blood and TWD and I no longer watch either of them. Havent seen TWD since the middle of last season and I havent seen any of True Blood this season. TWD is too repetitive and TB is too stupid. Both use lots of filler.
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You should watch The Walking Dead or True Blood or BOTH to see what a really slow, dragging show looks like.
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I disagree with Tim on almost everything. Since when has a pilot been the defining feature of a show and all it can be. If I wanted a gore fest I'd just have to look at the news, I expect a horror tinged show that focuses on its characters and plot instead of always trying to scare us. No genre-breaking show is expected.
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Agree with natlar71203. Read the books. Vasily Awesome! Gus also plays a important role in this story
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Gus is generally always as annoying and unlikable, but still serves many purposes. Fet becomes VERY interesting and likable. Eph, you mostly just start to hate no matter how much you sympathize with his situation.
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I'd say that we had the scene with Gus because he's now going to go back to the shop with the clock, meet Abe and maybe they'll end up talking about the coffin...?
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I know a little bit about some alliances Gus will form, and I think he might end up being the baddest dude in the series. See... societies are governed by rules. Different species are governed by different rules. Does being a vampire mean you get to break all the rules?

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Oh, I'm sure we'll find out soon enough about the vampire's rules and who has or hasn't broken them.
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oh wow tim s(nob)urette doesnt like ANOTHER tv series. Big shock here
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You're quite right. The show is so poor, it's almost like a parody of horror B movies. The terrible acting, the terrible dialogue, the terrible, tedious pace of the plotting, even the terrible wig on the (normally excellent) Corey Stoll.

I'm surprised the normally reliable FX network produced such tripe. This is like something Fox would create and it does remind me of the equally dreadful The Following.
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Again a boring episode...nothing special happened, there was no Wow moment at all...i understand that some series need time to build things up, but there should be Something that has to make watch more and more...
But, i am giving it the 4 episode test and then see what i will do...
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Dude. Seriously. Give it time. Ive read the first two books and "the exterminator guy" is awesome. Gus? Also awesome. Its comparing vampirism to a disease. Diseases sometimes need time to incubate. Just relax a little and stop wishing the show would do what you want, and instead try to enjoy these slow moments. Soon enough you will get everything you are hoping for.
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should not alienate a large chunk of your audience by making it difficult for them to follow/get into the show w/o having read the books. i'm all for character development, etc, however, this last episode was poorly done after what i thought was a very nice pilot.
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Like most things, sometimes the books are better then the movie or series...this is too slow simply...
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The book knew where to put the right focus on the right events to keep the plot moving. This series thus far just DRAGS through each part without any clear relevance to most of it in sight.
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thats a major problem. stories often starting by showing you seemingly random things that are subject to connection, but until there is a connecting revelation, those seemingly random things. are meaningless. The book starts with a pre-holocaust backstory that was totally omitted from the series. They may time shift to show bits and pieces of the backstory later, but the omitted part was important to connecting things shown thus far. Having watched the first two episodes before reading the book, its easy to see why people feel its too slow. viewers are still in the dark about things that are already revealed, by this point in the book.
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I'm still mad they took away the cold opening the book had of the plane sitting silent on the tarmac, sure there was still a plane sitting there in the series, but the entire atmosphere and events were very much different, and we didn't need to see Eph's nonsense therapy sessions.
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indeed it is.
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I never expect too much forward momentum from second episodes of any show. Premiers are almost always bursting with action and trying to set every storyline up. It all ends up being overwhelming in most cases. Second episode usually serves to calm and slow things down a bit.
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To be completely honest i found the episode quite compelling, im not watching it expecting to be amazed by some of my fall series but at the same time i still have some expectations that were met and being two episodes in, i feel like its the perfect time to start character development, the show wouldn't be very compelling if right off the bat we started seeing vampires screw crap up. In due time i feel like The Strain will get to the point of blood and gore 24/7 but we have to stay tuned and watch it evolve as it transitions towards that point and so far i'm not seeing any reason i shouldn't.
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Not agreeing with this review at all. So far, I'm really enjoying this show. Like Sleepy Hollow, the creators seem to strive for a mash-up of genres, most likely to be meant to be enjoyed in irony. Some genres I'm picking up:
-Spielberg-esque overwrought family drama
-Contagion/biological thriller
-Campy 80/90's horror visuals (the master's ridiculous but hilariously swooshing away backward after bashing somebody's head, and so many other examples)
-Nazi vs. old Jew with the heart of gold (how can anyone not enjoy good vs. evil without Nazis involved?)

It's been pretty fun so far.

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Perfectly put!
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Oh, man, I don't believe I've ever been disappointed in you, Tim, but there's a first time for everything.

I actually delayed watching this ep because of your review's headline, thinking it was going to be "horrifyingly slow".

What I found when I watched it was a pitch-perfect example of suspense-building---nearly every scene screamed at the nightmares to come, and at how utterly inadequate those poor Manhattanites will be to deal with them. The scenes with Ephraim were the exceptions, but they were worth their time in that they further developed him as a character---as well as the "others" in his life.

Consider how efficient the storytelling was, in developing the three characters closest to our lead's arc: The moment at the door, with his ex-wife, when she alone seemed to take his opinions of the epidemic seriously; the moment with his son, where he called his father to task and set the groundwork for conflict to come; the moment with his wife's new man, who managed to appear more sympathetic and less like a douchebag; the momentary kiss with his co-worker, establishing a relationship we knew was there but needed to be shown.

The introduction of Vasily Fett was brilliant---I loved his character in the books, and the show-creators CLEARLY know the gold they have in this character, with his bombastic introduction.

And Setrakian vs. the vampire Nazi? That chilling sound of cracking glass? Every word of that conversation was electric.

You dropped the ball too early on this one, Tim: A single episode spent developing a few key characters amidst a steadily-rising pressure-cooker of suspense is not "slow", it's a smart investment that will pay off when the ammonia hits the fan.
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The devil is in the details. Like the sound of almost crackling glass from the pressure of just a finger tip during Abraham's chat at the beginning.
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I'm fairly sure that this episode was the set-up for several characters who become the heroes; the exterminator (or as I like to call him, gorgeous killer hunk) and the gangbanger. The only part I didn't like was the AA meeting and the bit about letting the "survivors" walk. The 1st part was too long and boring, and the 2nd made no sense. When it comes to contagions, government agencies tend to err on the side of too much caution, not an absence of caution that will lead to litigation and a negligence lawsuit.

So I'll see what happens in the next episode; if the set-up leads to at least the beginning of some fun mayhem and freaky vampires, I'm in. If not, oh well, there's still TW and Dominion.
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"... there's still TW and Dominion"

You, sir, have just earned yourself an Internet stalker. Please forward me your address and habitual movements---it would save me all the time and effort of figuring them out for myself, before I convince you that my passion is not a sign of insanity, but that we were meant to be together forever.
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Okaaay then. First off, I'm female; 2nd, not really into being stalked. But I do appreciate the thought...I think.
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Why not just 40 odd minutes of shocking blood sucking worms and huge vampiric figures running rampant over the city.Why have any patience to establish some sort of story line after all it is already the second episode and haven't we all suffered through enough time without seeing someones brain pounds to mush.It is astounding the lack of patience supposed adult people display in their willingness to let plot development take place in the television shows they choose to view.
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I thought it was an intense and very suspenseful second episode, despite being a little on the slow end. But they have to open big to draw viewers in I guess.
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Actually I thought it was pretty good. But then, I used the fast forward button quite a bit to get to the juicy parts. Really cuts down on the TV time.
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A shame; the "slow" parts in this episode were some of the best. Tim's rarely wrong, but he dropped the ball on this one.
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I was wondering why they are even bothering with a story for Gus mostly because I thought he was going to get eaten as soon as he got the box to the drop off point. Whats the point of wasting so much time on a delivery pawn.
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Gus becomes a relevant player within the world of The Strain. His introduction is dumb as fock but its necessary viewing. There's an awful lot of time wasting goin' on now. ...Kind of ruins, things but things should turn around.
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Maybe because he's not a mere delivery pawn but instead becoming *SPOILERS* in the process of this series. Maybe.
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Well my problem with this show is i do not care for any of the characters at all. I would not mind if Eph - or anyone else for that matter - died away or simply disappeared. Which is a bad thing when watching any kind of fiction.
Gus and the whole thing with his family feels completely out of place.
The only char interesting right now is Sektarian (or what is the name) but this wont be enough to keep me interested. Count me in for one more.
BTW the best in this ep was Peter Bishop. Fringe was a show man!
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Youre right. none of the characters are anyone you'd give a damn about except Abraham. Well Nora too.
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I think it was a okay episode. Not as good as the pilot but I still liked it enough to continue watching.

The best scene belongs to David Bradley again. His one scene with Richard Sammel was the best. It was also important scene which was not mentioned by Tim. From that we now know David's character killed vampire/vampires before with his sword.

This series attempt to introduce the "science" of Vampire is really interesting and unique.

I liked the exterminator guy. He is cool and looking forward to him joining up.
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i knew i had seen that german actor before! he's the one that got his brains bashed in by the "bear jew" in IB. thanks for posting that link. i had made a comment earlier that i thought he reminded me a lot of waltz' character.
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Get used to it, at least for Season 1. The 1st book (The Strain) was kind of taking its time. Pilot episode almost covered 1/2 of the book!
So the abnormality is the pilot.
I hope the show survives since 2nd & 3rd book (The Fall, The Night Eternal) are more fast paced - although many people regard the 1st book the series best since it was the most atmospheric, taking its time to present the outbreak
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Huh-what? The pilot covered half the book? Hell no. One storyline has advanced a lot quicker than it did in the novels, sure, but it's smart TV writing to introduce all your main characters and arcs at the beginning.
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1/2 of the book is a figure of speech...not far from the truth though. There was even a character not introduced in the first book.
I assume you've read the books
At the point where the pilot left the plot, do you think there were enough stories in the book to cover the remaining 12 episodes?
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Could someone help me out on the time frame on this? I get the feeling that the second episode is the next morning/day (after the plane landed).....but there is already a report about the "incident" and the survivors are already cleared to go home. What did I miss?

Am I taking this too seriously?
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Someone fake internal report from the airline blaming carbon monoxide leak/gave it to the department of health so that the detainees would be release.

Plus the lawyer was connected enough to pull strings to get themselves release from quarantine. An as we have seen the group behind this aren't above bribing officials either.
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I didn't even grasp that it was faked....well I feel stupid. Thanks for the clearing that up for me.
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You're not stupid; this was one of the few weak parts in the story---that the Stoneheart Group would have such an easy time muzzling Goodweather's claims that it couldn't be CO poisoning, given the evidence he has (including video) and the (presumed) credibility he's earned with the CDC.
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The box left the airport to cross the river on the same night the plane landed and it arrived right before daybreak the next day. You didnt miss anything because nothing happened. Eichorst gloated to Abraham, and Gus's stupid family dysfunction took center stage, next to some 12 step moose dung.
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Gus' "stupid family dysfunction" claimed about ten minutes of the episode, and was actually an example of very efficient storytelling: You couldn't have cut those scenes any shorter; literally every word communicated some important characteristic of people who are very important to the story, and the show should be lauded for how quickly and effectively they're conveying the important bits without detracting from the suspenseful buildup of what comes next.
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Opinions. We all have em.
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"Gus's stupid family dysfunction took center stage, next to some 12 step moose dung." vs. "Gus' "stupid family dysfunction" claimed about ten minutes of the episode"

There are opinions... and there are facts.
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I am not on board with the review and the people commenting under the influence of the review. The show is perfectly paced because it is not supposed to break any body count records. This is still an FX Show where characters matter more than highly graphic scenes. The political aspect with cover ups and the media being the mindless drones to the rich and powerful is part of our everyday life's, It is interesting because we are subject to spy programs and we are living in a world of surveillance while the rich and powerful can do whatever they want because they can afford it, because they are connected and because people at high places owe them favors. This pretty much describes today's America and I am sure that is what the writers trying to emphasize on by creating the villains.
I don't think there was a lack of vampire scenes, for all I know this episode had more vampire scenes as the entire season 4 of True Blood (the one with the feary dust and mindless 20 minute monolgues of the B-Cast and the stupid witch)
The Strain and Halt and Catch Fire are the most promising new shows, if you compare it to the pretentious nonsense of The Leftovers you know what a boring show is.
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100% agree---as I commented previously, I actually delayed watching this episode because I caught Tim's headline proclaiming it "horrifyingly slow," but I thought this episode was fantastic.

Several electric scenes, some fantastic suspense-building, and incredibly efficient storytelling when it came to "boring" character development that will only pay off down the road.

In my opinion, this episode was superior to the pilot: Fewer silly lines, and some beautiful direction (not to mention those aforementioned electric scenes---e.g. Setrakian & the Nazi vampire, the girl at the end).

I mean, it's possible to argue that Hitchcock was "slow" in the way he built suspense. I, for one, appreciate this kind of storytelling.
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Agreed, I NEVER listen to reviews I`ll watch it for myself and I`ll decide if I like it or not. I completely disagree with Tims review
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Wait, did you just say you completely disagree with a review on an episode you haven't actually watched yet?

Inane
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No I have seen it I just meant I don't let a reviewers point of view cloud whether or not I`ll watch something. That's all.
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I watched it myself and completely agree with this review. How the hell did that happen? Oh nevernmind
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While I wouldn't say the characters and the backend politics are great, I definitely can say this review is craptastic.
The reviewer has his mind set for what this series has to be (a campy horror show) and if it deviates from that (which I'm sure it will and, in fact, already has since the first episode), bad things will be written in the reviews.
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So people would have liked this episode more if they hadn't read Tim's review saying he didn't like it as much?

That might be giving Tim's powers of mind control more credit than they deserve...
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Gislef, I love nearly all your comments because (especially Under The Done) you know what you are doing and I know you know that the media sets the tone for discussion. Tim is certainly not a mind controlling puppet of the media but he can't change the fact that people read what he said and they forfeit their own opinions because that is what the media has done to 85% of the people. When there is a fight between a Strawberry and an Apple the media will take a side and push for the side that serves them (network owners) best. If they have stocks on Strawberries and Apples all together they will claim that Teddy Bears are the real threat and tomorrow we will be talking about Teddy Bears. Again Tim is not doing any of that, he calls it as he sees it and I am in love with his reviews but he can not shake it that most people will accept his review as public opinion and therefore a fact.
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Most definitely, because I hadnt even read his review when I posted my first comment. Episode two sucked. It was called The Box, but the box wasnt even the focal point of the episode. In fact only about 2 minutes were dedicated to the box.
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you are too blunt, if i can say so. You don't have to put the box in a frame for 20 min so you make it focal point. Just talking about it is good enough. And the box is just a metaphor for the creature and the virus itself..so, yeah, it was about the box. You could use reading between the lines.
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But the virus and creature aren't in a box since the CDC was forced to release it into the world.

And how is antmorris3511 too blunt when she's just doing the same thing everyone else on here is (voicing their opinions) but just doesn't happen to agree with you?
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too blunt? too honest? thats amusing. this episode was about nothing about. if eichorst and satrakian never parlayed, it wouldve been a total waste of time.
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You're watching this show for the wrong reason: It's not a comic book version of Vampires Take Manhattan. If you can't appreciate the suspense-building in this episode, there's no helping you.
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Totally agree this show and Halt and Catch Fire beats Leftovers any day. I already stopped watching The Leftovers and Halt and Catch Fire just did one of its best episode.
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people arent commenting under the influence of the review, theyre commenting under the influence of the episode.
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i am glad that you can not be influenced but most people are, this is not a hypothesis this a scientifically proven fact.
Poor Tim gotta watch a lot of TV everyday and sometimes you have expectations of a show but the show decides to go into another direction, he said it himself last week that he did not expect such a gorey show from a "Character" Network like FX. Now it turns out it is a character show after all and with the tone being set in episode 2 everyone knows what tp expect.
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The fact that people can be influenced, does not prove that they were, so all your talk about science is irrelevant, and a little pretentious. It's silly to conclude that if someone disagrees with you, they were swayed by a charismatic tv critic.
It is possible that you are entertained, even excited by things that others may consider boring. The same could be said about me, or anyone else.


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I personaly think that most of these scenes were character placement. Gus will be bring back the clock to Abraham's shop. The exterminator was closing the restaurant where the Rocker was, wasn't he? I think they are placing the connections. Sure, it was slow, but I think it will catch up quickly.
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I agree with you that each has some "point" further down the line, but that doesn't make it exciting to watch in a Vampire film made off a series of books from a director well known for pretty gnarly/gruesome movies.

It was a yawn fest.


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& if it doesn't?
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Do the same thing as for any show that is slow and doesn't catch up quickly?
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People who read the books would know or if they do a wiki search on the books, they will have some idea.
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This was pretty bad. I don't think I will be watching the next episode.
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There's a reason TV.com has (TM)'d the "Four Episode Test" --- having read the books, I promise you, this show is doing everything right and firing on all cylinders. It will pass the 4-ep test with flying colors.
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I have never believed in the four episode test If a show starts out bad and gets better, it usually takes more than four episodes. And almost none of the shows that start out bad ever get significantly better.
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I have not read the books but I wiki it and I liked the idea of using science to explain how vampire works. I do not think it has been done before. Since it is based on the books he wrote himself, I am thinking there is a plan for the entire season so the show knows where it is going.
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I wouldnt schedule events around the next episode. You may end up being disappointed again, but I hope not, because this show has a chance to be phenomenal if they cut the shite.
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Have you read any of the books? Give the show more of a shot, I know this episode was pretty awful and bogged down by too much shit ppl don't care about, and they should have done a lot more to keep ppl interested in the second episode.. However, so far they seem to be following the first book pretty damned closely, and the most compelling parts are the ones about the four survivors (and all parts about Abraham cuz he's the shit basically.) I feel like they're trying to including all the subplots from the book and that's a lot to take on, but if done correctly, could have huge payoffs. Fet the exterminator is another one to watch, he's a bad ass, love that they cast Kevin Durand in that character..
I will note that Eph's custody drama brought down the first book for a while in the beginning, but we'll just say that once the shit really hits the fan, its dropped instantly, because survival becomes number one priority.
I'm willing to give FX and del Toro a lil more of my time to really get this show rolling. It could be fun?
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The books are irrelevant.

The tv series has to deliver on its own.


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I haven't read the books. Yes, there was some stuff that people don't care about (the AA meeting for example), and that was a small problem, but I think the show has much more serious problems. I don't like the design of the monsters or the disease, and I think too many things just don't make sense.

1. How did 200(?) zombie vampires, some of them naked and/or cut open, get out of the morgue and walk away?

2. How did that French speaking girl walk all the way home without being noticed? Did all the others walk home too?

3. Why didn't Goodweather show the worms to the woman who dismissed his concerns as being based on a "hunch"? He didn't even mention them. And even if he didn't have any evidence of a pathogen, they have 200(?) dead people, all with unexplained cuts on their necks. It makes no sense to dismiss the incident as oxygen deprivation, send the survivors home unsupervised, and not make a major effort to locate the stolen coffin.

4. There's no way that "master" guy could bite every single passenger and crew member on the plane, without any of them getting out of their seat. Don't tell me that they were bitten by the worms. That doesn't make any more sense.

5. The CDC's way of approaching the situation in the pilot didn't make much sense. In particular, it seemed entirely random when they thought that they would need protection suits and when they thought that they wouldn't.

I could go on, but you get the idea. These things are serious problems because they indicate that the writers aren't paying attention to details. They think that just because there are vampires on the show, nothing needs to make sense. So I think that even if the best parts of the story are ahead of us, I'm still not going to like the show because of the way it's going to be telling the story.

The only part of your post that makes me somewhat curious about what's going to happen is the phrase "the shit really hits the fan".
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I am guessing at least some of your questions will be answered rather than some other shows airing in the same timeslot where nothing is answered.
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Yes there is a way, you just haven't seen it yet. Remember this is fiction where anything can happen...just be patient
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if you want to know how the master infected everyone on the plane, wikipedia reveals the how. this is possible because of the master's physiology and his ''influence''. so far the show is too slow. some of the problems you cite are just a matter of a lack of familiarity on your part, but since nothing has been revealed, thats to be expected.
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The show has me so disappointed I got the book and learned a bit about Sardou and that renewed my interest in The Strain. This could be the start of something big.

BTW, I watched a few eps of AHS: Asylum and have enjoyed it so far. More Bloodyface please..
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Wait til you get to the name game episode in Asylum, its just so great. hehehe
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Let's hope..
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Well it is FX after all. I think that has heightened my disappointment.
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Spot on^^^
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Can someone tell me how far into the book the first and second episode go? I started reading the novel and I want to get farther into it before I start watching.
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At least half of the first book
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thanks
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Really? Is the first book that small?
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No. One of the story arcs is progressing faster, but it's not quite that fast.
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