Zoo (Season 1) – TV Series Review

I first learned about “Zoo” from a Netflix Philippines notification, informing me season one of the series was uploaded on the streaming platform.

I was extra tired at the time, so the idea of watching a  mindless television show where animals attack humans and take over the world really appealed to me. As expected the show does feature plenty of animals killing humans. But it also offers more.

“Zoo” provides an equally intelligent and exciting look at an end of the world scenario where animals have evolved specifically to combat humans and their technology. Technology being, according to the show, the only reason why humans are at the top of the food chain.

This science-fiction drama thriller based on a novel of the same name by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge brings together an unlikely team:

American zoologist Jackson Oz (James Wolk), safari guide Abraham Kenyatta (Nonso Anozie),  journalist Jamie Campbell (Kristen Connolly), veterinary pathologist Dr. Mitch Morgan (Billy Burke), and French intelligence investigator Chloue Tousignant (Nora Arnezeder).

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From left to right: Chloue Tousignant, Jackson Oz, Dr. Mitch Morgan, Jamie Campbell, and Abraham Kenyatta

Their goal is to find a solution to the animal problem. The sci-fi angle of the series comes from the fact that the problem could be traced to a biotechnology company behind the production of staple goods sold worldwide, from animal feeds to veterinary medicines. Hence, the inclusion of a journalist in the team.

“Zoo” is a very smart and entertaining television series. It begins with a series of animal attacks. I was expecting it to be “The Walking Dead,” but with animals instead of zombies. So far, that hasn’t happened yet.

Still, the rise of the animal kingdom happens quickly as humans struggle to adapt to the situation.

With so many animals in the world, I wondered how the show would feature them? Fortunately, they didn’t run down the list of scariest animals (imagine sharks, piranhas, anacondas gone wild) and the world’s armies retaliating.

Instead the show focuses on animals relevant to the characters and the places they visit in their search for a solution. For example, lions and leopards  appear in Africa, where Jackson and Abraham host safari tours.

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I also enjoyed how the focused on the mutations of particular animals during a few animal-of-the-week episodes in the middle of the series.

Rats, for example, evolved so they could reproduce asexually. This allowed them to increase in number much faster than they could be exterminated. They also developed a taste for human blood.

Cats, on the other hand, developed the ability to communicate long distances with their entire species. This unified, long-distance language ability enabled them to work in teams and plan attacks without congregating physically, among other things.

Bears developed extra strong carapaces to protect against bullets and tranquilizer darts. They also gained the ability to enter and exit hibernation at will.

Bats began swarming around and attacking devices emitting electronic signals. They also attacked cellular phones—take that you Pokemon Go players!—and plane turbines, blocked sunlight from reaching solar panels in Antarctica. True story.

The team made progress quickly. They narrowed their focus to finding a cure that would devolve the animals back to their regular state, and this search for the cure is what brings the show’s first season to an epic conclusion.

Sure, you can question the science and ethics behind “Zoo”. But as long as you don’t dig too deep. If you accept this show as the intelligent and thrilling fictional television entertainment it is, then you will definitely enjoy this visit to the zoo!

Coffee Bean and Tea Reads Rating:

5 Beans out of 5
5 Beans out of 5
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Wayward Pines Season 1 – TV Series Review

Wayward Pines (2015) is mystery, thriller, and science fiction television series based on the Wayward Pines trilogy of novels by Blake Crouch. The show was created by Chad Hodge and produced by veteran filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan.

The first season centers on Ethan Burke (Matt Dillon) a U.S. Secret Service agent on his way to investigate the disappearance of two fellow agents in the town of Wayward Pines, Idaho. On the way, Ethan and his partner get into a car accident. Ethan wakes up hospitalized inside Wayward Pines. Soon, he finds himself unable to leave the town.

His investigating reveals that one of his partners is dead, while the other—his former lover Kate Hewson (Carla Gugino)—is alive and married. Why has she settled down in this town, and not reported back to the U.S. Secret Service. And why is she so afraid of speaking with him? “They’re watching us,” she says.

Soon, Ethan discovers Wayward Pines is more than a strange small town. For one, it’s surrounded by an electrified fence. Any attempt at escape is punished by a public execution known as a “reckoning,” carried out by Arnold Pope (Terrence Howard), the town sheriff.

Everyone in this town is acting strange, one way or another. All of them seem to be keeping secrets from Ethan who continues searching for the truth.

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Meanwhile, Ethan’s wife Theresa (Shannyn Sossamon) and son Ben (Charlie Tahan), drive to Wayward Pines to investigate Ethan’s mysterious disappearance. They too get into a car accident and wake up hospitalized and trapped in Wayward Pines.

Although I love watching small town television mysteries like Broadchurch (2013-) and Harper’s Island (2009), I was a bit skeptical about Wayward Pines, given M. Night Shymalan’s track record as a filmmaker. I love his earlier work, but his more recent films keep getting worse and worse. The Last Airbender (2010), for example.

That’s why I was pleasantly surprised by how good the series’s pilot episode was—and M. Night both produced and directed that episode! Maybe M. Night has found his true calling as a television series producer? But that pilot episode convinced me to give the series a chance, and I’m delighted that I did.

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Among the many stellar cast members of Wayward Pines (Source: 1)

Every episode of the first season gives off an ominous vibe. There is never a dull moment throughout the series, and the suspense built at a steady pace.

The cast was also excellent. I was especially terrified by Melissa Leo’s portrayal of Nurse Pam. Even the secret service agent Ethan was more afraid of her than he was of Sheriff Pope, who carried out the public killings in Wayward Pines. Another standout was Megan Fisher who played Hope Davis, the former hypnotherapist now principal of Wayward Pines Academy.

Science fiction elements are introduced in later episodes. This may surprise viewers who were expecting a usual small town mystery show. However, I very much enjoy the sci-fi genre. The sci-fi elements were a welcome addition for me.

VERDICT: Wayward Pines puts a sci-fi spin on the small town television mystery  genre, and is a thrill to watch. It’s also a welcome back to form for M. Night Shyamalan. If you’re a sci-fi fan searching for an intelligent and entertaining television mystery I strongly recommend watching season 1 of Wayward Pines.

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Definitely one television event you shouldn’t miss! (Source: 1)

Coffee Bean and Tea Reads Rating:

5 Beans out of 5
5 Beans out of 5