Saturday, March 12, 2016

Zoo, Season 1, Episode 1: First Blood

This pilot splits us into two storylines

Firstly we have Jackson Oz who leads safaris in Botswana. His dad was a famous professor, Robert Oz, who theorised that animals would rise up (involving a “defiant pupil”) and kill off humanity because humanity was doing such a shit job of looking after the planet that they weren’t going to die out because we couldn’t maintain a stable ecosystem. He committed suicide and was widely discredited and, presumably, his ghost is out there somewhere being enormously smug. I rather think smug ghosts would be more annoying than poltergeists

Anyway, Jackson and his friend Abraham are leading safaris when the Ominous happens. I give props for giving us lots of very spooky and ominous lead ins without dragging it out too far. After all, anyone watching this show knows the premise: animals rising up to kill people. When people go missing on a safari, it’s not exactly rocket science to figure out what happened. So points for raising tension and not dragging it out to the point where I’m yelling “A lion better eat someone soon!”

Which is what happens, the lions have eaten everyone except tourist Chloe and are now stalking them – they seem to get Abraham

I admit, this annoyed me muchly – I did a double take to see if they were really going to kill off the pilot’s most prominent POC so soon – but it turns out he’s only injured (and he’s credited for 15 episodes so I guess he lives and has just been temporarily plot boxed). This leaves Chloe (who conveniently drops into the conversation that she’s single, just in case we were worried we wouldn’t have straight romantic tension at the end of the world) and Jackson running away from lions in lots of tense, but good action scenes. Jackson also gets to tell us about his dad.

He ends up being arrested because earlier he meddled with a hunt. I suspect human authorities arresting him won’t be top of anyone’s priority list soon.

The second storyline happens in Los Angeles where some guys have been eaten by lions that have escaped form the zoo. In comes plucky journalist Jamie Campbell. She is sure that the lions running amok is caused by their food being changed and coming from biotech company Rayden

Unfortunately for her, the company that owns Rayden also owns her newspaper and her boss is Not Pleased about her naughty blogging activities flinging all kinds of accusations against the company. Not even sleeping with senior journalist Ethan (this end of the world WILL have straight romantic tension!) can save her job. He’s a bit of an arse anyway and she’s not that into the relationship – or getting her job back

She’s still chasing Rayden and the cause of the lions running amok which, she points out due to doing some decent research, is nearly unheard of and zoo lions don’t just randomly kill people. She tells this to Mitch, the gawky, anti-social animal pathologist who has been examining the lion’s bodies and will now team up with her for some more investigating (we’re really insistent on this, there WILL be straight sexual tension on this show! We even had a phone number gag – and the awkward antisocial one who is actually hot is definitely going to get some, it’s a TV rule).

He doesn’t buy the idea that changing the lion’s diet can really make that much difference – but he does help her investigate and finds the answer to another mystery. A whole lot of cats have disappeared – and he finds them. Ominously gathered in a pack around a soon-to-open summer camp. It’s like an army of adorable fluffiness.

I’m intrigued but wary… wary because this looks a lot like a mystery show and ye gods have we been burned by those things before. Random shit happens, no-one knows why and you never ever ever ever will.

I’m not entirely sold on the idea that animals rising up is all that menacing. When it comes down to it, we, humanity, are REALLY good at killing things. We’re regularly wiping out entire species entirely by accident (and have wiped out more than a few in purpose at that).

Honestly, you want to sell menacing to me? Don’t show me angry lions. I’m pretty sure we could drive lions to extinction in a week if humanity wanted to. Show me rats. Show me ants. Show me killer pigeons. Show me cockroaches. Show me the animals we have fought tooth and nail to TRY and exterminate but they’re thriving despite our best efforts – those I’m afraid of.