Over the past decade or so, FX has established a reputation for ambitious, top-tier cable programming that might not always be as “respectable” as HBO or AMC, but which can be just as addictive as anything those networks have put out (Terriers, damn it!). They’ve produced hit dramas such as Rescue Me, Sons of Anarchy, and Justified, but with the exception of American Horror Story, they haven’t really dipped into the world of “speculative fiction.” That’s set to change this summer this summer with the vampire outbreak thriller series The Strain, adapted from the trilogy of novels by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan.
The thought of del Toro bringing his brilliant madness to TV is exciting enough in and of himself, but if The Strain is a hit for FX that’s only going to make other genre projects that much more likely to get a green light. Will The Strain do for vampires — the serious, scary, non-sparkly kind — what The Walking Dead has done for zombies on the small screen? We’ll have to wait and see, but in the mean time here’s the logline for the first of del Toro and Hogan’s Strain novels:
A plane lands at JFK and mysteriously ‘goes dark’, stopping in the middle of the runway for no apparent reason, all lights off, all doors sealed… Ephraim Goodweather and his team from the Center for Disease Control must work quickly to establish the cause of this strange occurrence before panic spreads. The first thing they discover is that four of the victims are actually still alive. But that’s the only good news. And when all two hundred corpses disappear from various morgues around the city on the same night, things very rapidly get worse. Soon Eph and a small band of helpers will find themselves battling to protect not only their own loved ones, but the whole city, against an ancient threat to humanity.
I haven’t read the books, but between this teaser and the earlier viral vids, it sounds like The Strain’s vampires will be of the biological/plague variety, rather than the supernatural breed, which is okay by me. That disease angle would make the new FX series the second show to blend sci-fi, horror, and outbreak elements this year, following up on Syfy’s Helix. You can see the biohazard signs on full display in the below image from the show.
This past November del Toro told MTV Geek:
Basically I’m trying to do what I do in my movies which is to show it as a reality, but as a reality that is stylized.It’s not like CSI or The Wire, it’s real but it feels a little stylized. But the way the camera work will be is very realistic. We want to keep the camera very documentary even if the look of the show is not. The look of the show is very designed. The style of the camera and the storytelling will be very loose. It will evolve from that feel of reality, and little by little we want to evolve into more stylish, horror feel that requires smoother camera moves, more suspense and atmosphere-driven moments so it will be a mixture. I don’t think that mixture has been seen a lot on TV.
As long as the show doesn’t pull a True Blood and throw goddam fairies into the mix, we’ll be good.
The Strain stars Stoll, Sean Astin, Kevin Durand, Ben Hyland, Jonathan Hyde, Richard Sammel, Miz Maestro, and Franz Capra. It’s set to premiere in July on FX.