It was inevitable: we’ve had TV shows about zombies, some about vampires, others on werewolves and quite a few regarding superheroes. A show about animals taking over the world was bound to happen. Sadly though, Zoo is anything but a show about animals.
That’s not to say that Zoo is terrible. From the start, it’s almost clear that this is not a completely ridiculous show, and I hope that stays true for the next 13 weeks because I can’t possibly sit through another Under the Dome or Extant replica. However, if Zoo wants to sustain viewership and expect us to tune in for more, we need to see some carnage instead of the less-than-impressive off-screen animal attacks. I don’t usually support violence on TV (simply because I don’t care for it), but if the show can’t offer anything else, then by all means show us some bloodthirsty, angry cats.
Adapted from the James Patterson novel, the show centers around Jackson Oz (James Wolk), a zoologist who works as a safari tour guide in Africa, when suddenly all around the world animals start acting differently: escaping from zoos, attacking humans while they pee, and eating them alive. Similarly in Los Angeles, a newspaper reporter Jamie Campbell (Kristen Connolly) becomes interested in animal behavior and tries to get to the bottom of this worldwide epidemic with her new partner in crime pathologist Mitch (Billy Burke). The two agree to work together to find what’s behind all these sudden attacks and whether this is bigger than it seems.
One of the problems with the pilot is that it doesn’t feel very “worldwide” despite its intriguing premise. There’s a lot of talk about what these attacks could mean to humanity, a whole bunch of expository speeches, and a few bland characters, but it should have been better prepared at what this means on a global scale. Instead, we’re treated to only two separate storylines, one in Africa and the other in the States, as they deal with the repercussions of animals turning on humans. Now, I’ve already seen the second episode, and that one is a definite improvement when it comes to stretching out the storyline onto other parts of the world, but sometimes the ridiculousness of some scenes could be worrisome. While the show never gets near Under The Dome territory of ridiculous-bad (seriously, I can’t stand 10 seconds of that show), Zoo still a bit derivative sometimes. I definitely could have lived without the “scientist father had a theory” storyline and “maybe he wasn’t crazy after all!”
Despite all that, though, there’s still something quite entertaining about Zoo. There wasn’t a dull subplot slowing the pilot down, even though it’s unnecessarily obvious that a romance is building between our two protagonists in Africa, and the scene where they’re running away from the terrifying lions wasn’t as intense as I thought it was going to be. Maybe it’s also the intriguing premise that’s usually something we see on the big screen, maybe it’s the solid acting, or maybe because I’m optimistic that we’ll be seeing animals ripping humans apart perhaps as soon as next week (fingers crossed), but I’ll be sticking with this show. After all, it’s summertime and this feels like the perfect way to turn off our brains for a while and simply enjoy the ride.
Despite being less exciting and violent than expected, there’s not much wrong with this show. The pilot showed real promise, as long as it finds a way to be less exposition-heavy and takes risks moving forward.