Leftridge: TV Time: The Strain is the Worst Thing I’ve Ever Seen

The-Strain-coverIf you were considering watching FX’s new original series The Strain, I’ve got some advice: DROP WHATEVER YOU’RE DOING AND DON’T WATCH IT, EVER.

It’s just… terrible.

See, I had reasonably high hopes, I guess. FX has a pretty good batting average with original programming; I find The Bridge, Justified, Fargo and The Americans to all be quality programming. Plenty of people like Sons of Anarchy and I guess they do some well-received comedies, too.

Not to mention, the first season has several episodes written and directed by respectable horror filmmaker Guillermo del Toro.

And that’s just splendid.

But The Strain is akin to fastening clothespins to your testicles. I mean, it’s something to do, but why?


I took some notes while watching (less than half) of the first episode. I present them without restraint. (Seriously. I tried it out for you because I’m a really decent guy or whatever. YOU’RE WELCOME, KCC.)

  • It starts on an airplane. Airline is called “Regis Air” because why the fuck not?

The first thing that jumps out at you is how bad the acting is. It’s INSANELY BAD. It’s not quite, “your-divorced-middle-aged-friend-who’s-trying-his-hand-at-community-theater bad,” but it’s fucking bad.

  • It’s not just bad acting, it’s bad OVERacting, which is even worse. There’s a “goth-rocker” on the plane who is NOT ENJOYING HIMSELF and he’ll let the stewardess know it, too. CHARACTERS ARE DEVELOPING, PEOPLE.

Next, there’s a plane monster making noises in the cargo-hold. The male Asian flight attendant alerts the black female flight attendant. I feel like I’m looking at a pamphlet in the doctor’s office. ALL OF THIS DIVERSITY.

  • Now we’re in a therapist’s office I guess, and there’s a man and a woman and it’s something about a dissolving marriage and OH WAIT, he’s a doctor. We know this because they do that really great thing where they write really clunky, distracting dialogue to give you the back story.

Seriously, he says, “I’m an epidemiologist, so I HAVE to take these calls.” He says this because his phone is BLOWING UP and his (divorced? estranged?) wife is glaring at him.

  • He leaves the session and takes the phone call on the mean-street of New York, which for some reason looks like New York from a 1980’s movie. There are dangerous looking characters all around and a fire burning in a trash-can. Right there on the street. A hobo-hand-warmer. Present day. NYC.

Cut to: the tarmac where Sean Astin appears for some reason. The CDC doctor with the troubled marriage is handed a carton of milk because that’s “his thing” I guess, and it builds unnecessary quirkiness. Astin—the only person in this fucking thing who I actually recognize—is the doc’s assistant.

  • For no good reason, now we’re in a pawn-shop in Harlem where some no-goodniks plan to rob the old-man proprietor. I think the guy with the gun is Kansas City Royals’ second baseman Omar Infante, probably. But then the old man is a badass and he pulls out a knife and when the fuck did I start watching Death Wish? Okay.

Old guy heads to the basement and sees a televised news report about the plane where everyone is dead because of a cargo-hold-space-monster. He pulls out a cane-sword with an elaborate, silver handle that has been fashioned to look like a dragon. He says, “oh shit, it’s happening again,” or something, only he’s saying this to what looks like a severed hand (or an octopus penis) that he keeps floating in a glass jar.

  • He’s talking to this hand-o-pus as though it’s a person, then he drips some of his blood into the jar and it goes nuts. Because it eats blood, apparently.

strain3Okay, now we’re back on the tarmac and the CDC doc with the troubled marriage is putting on a scuba suit and talking to his hot, foreign female counterpart who is ALSO putting on a scuba suit and I think they talk about how they fucked, but I’m not sure because the pizza shows up at my house and I can’t be bothered to pause this horseshit.

  • He drinks more milk for some reason.

They get on the plane and everyone is dead, but I think I see many of these dead “actors” inadvertently moving. Like, they couldn’t hold their breaths long enough or whatever.

  • Then a guy’s hand moves, only this time it’s SUPPOSED to happen because the music goes “duh-duh-DUH!” and the camera is focused on his fingers.

Now we’re done with the plane and we’re on a really futuristic looking elevator with a nattily dressed man. The camera focuses on his face and then—BOOM—his eyes do some freaky color-transmorphing shit, only it looks like they made it happen with Microsoft Paint.

  • MS Paint Eyes is meeting with an old man who looks like Mr. Drummond but isn’t, and for some reason that is briefly touched on, it’s like, as cold as a Minnesota January in this fancy office. You can see everyone’s breath, and you’re supposed to be like, “WHOA!” but I’m like, impressed that the pizza place remembered to leave the black olives off, because fuck black olives.

Now we’re BACK at JFK—ugh—and all of the plane’s dead bodies are in bags in the basement of the airport. We’re told there are four survivors in a needlessly expository exchange because we need to know shit like this, and goddammit, they’re just going to come right out and say it! WRITING.

  • The CDC guy and his probable lover are wearing white hazmat suits now, and talking to the survivors. One is complaining of ringing in his ears; another is the Marilyn Manson-like-goth-rocker! He’s pissed! He wants a drink! He takes off his wig for some reason so we can see that he’s a big phony. Okay.

Do you like big coffin-like things with ornate carvings that are filled with mysterious soil (or just regular soil, even)? Well, here’s one now. We don’t know what it is, but do we care? YOU BETCHA. Nope.

  • Now doc is texting his son and the words are popping up on the screen and what the fuck.

It’s getting too dark in the room to keep taking notes. Who cares? I don’t.

  • Oh, now one of the FAA guys (maybe?) is in the basement and HE hears a humming, so he wanders off to find it which is TOTALLY stupid, duh, and yep, there’s a giant alien-monster who might be wearing a cloak? And it pounces on him and sucks his neck until he’s dead. But that’s not enough because NOW it’s smashing his brains all over the floor, and I’m pretty sure I’m just watching a SyFy original movie now. And now the alien is running down the corridor flapping its arms like a muppet or one of those inflatable characters advertising a used-car sale, and I am fucking DONE.

thestraindemon4There’s still an hour left—because this thing was slated for 100 minutes—but I can’t do it. I just can’t.

  • In conclusion, Jesus Christ, please don’t watch this show.

The Strain airs Sunday @ 8pm on FX.

This entry was posted in Brandon Leftridge, Entertainment and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to Leftridge: TV Time: The Strain is the Worst Thing I’ve Ever Seen

  1. mike t. says:

    best review I’ve ever read, I think lefty. jack p. should read this and apply some basic, in your face, logic to the absurdity of script and plot. not that jack’s reviews are bad, just could use some of this liveliness. I mean, fuck black olives and all… totally get that, man.

    meanwhile, for those interested in this kind of thriller, best to watch again, for the umpteenth time, Andromeda Strain.

  2. PB says:

    The review is spot on, an absolutely awful show and unlike some of what shows up on SyFy, not even bad in a good way. I did last actually last through the entire first episode, but just I can’t do it, I can’t watch it again.

    • the dude says:

      Sounds like another aborted Fringe/X-files type thing.
      I watched it because I heard the hype and when the monster did the curb stomp/flappy away I went from somewhat interested to JFC/WTF .

    • Brandon Leftridge says:

      Yeah, and I’m actually glad that I didn’t like it in a way… I feel like I’ve got too many shows to keep up with, as is.

  3. rkcal says:

    too many channels x too many hours to fill = The Strain.
    I’d rather watch the umpteenth show about yokels looking for Bigfoot than this crap.

  4. Bob says:

    I watched the first episode hoping for good things. I could not get past how the plane ended up being in the air when the thing came out of the hatch and then the next scene it is on the tarmac with all the dead people. It went further downhill from there. Here is a hilarious recap of the first episode and how awful the show is.


  5. Hot Carl says:

    The best part of this review is where I realized Leftridge and I stopped watching at the exact same moment!

    • Bob says:

      I suffered all the way through it not knowing it was going to be two hours long. I was legit angry.

    • artemmis says:

      same here — hung in there til the “thing” did the “Game of Thrones” head squoosh –

      then bailed..

      glad to hear most others thinks it sucked also

      GREAT review!

  6. Libertarian says:

    I watch The Dome on Monday nights.

    Its one a handful of TV shows that can keep me awake for more than 10 minutes.

    • Brandon Leftridge says:

      I have mixed feelings about Under the Dome, but even at its absolute and utter worst, it is so, SO much better than The Strain.

      • Libertarian says:

        I’ll take your word for it!

        I really spend more time listening to internet radio than I do watching TV.

        Hell, I get up every Saturday and Sunday at 6am to watch the Lone Ranger on 41-2(I cant stand cable TV) just to let you where my TV tastes lie.

        • Brandon Leftridge says:

          If you’ve got a smart phone, get the Tune-In radio app. You can listen to radio stations across the globe, as well as serial radio programs from the 30’s on their built-in “classic radio” stations. (I’m the world’s oldest 33-year-old.)

          • Libertarian says:

            Dude-I’ve been jammin to Desert Underground out of WA state.

            The best mix up I’ve ever heard in one spot. Dokken, April Wine, Billy Thorpe (he goes WAY beyond children of the sun), Outlaws, old Nazareth, and of course the occasional crap pop tune.

            Try it…..

  7. balbonis moleskine says:

    Wilfred and Legit both kinda starting sharting up my tv after the first season or so (they were eventually left to die on FXX)

    Go watch Kristoff Waltz in Terry Gilliam’s Zero Theorem. Best movie so far this year.
    user Rarbg has an exquisite copy at the place you go for that sort of thing

    • Brandon Leftridge says:

      I am of the opinion that Waltz can do no wrong. I’ll have to seek it out.

  8. chuck says:

    Sounds horrible, should do well.

  9. Puh-lease. You would’ve thunk that you just watched a belated sequel to Gymkata or something. As per Wikipedia, The Strain “has received generally positive reviews from critics, and has a Metacritic rating of 72 out of 100 based on 37 reviews. It currently holds a 86% ‘Certified Fresh’ rating with an average score of 7.5 out of 10 on review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes.” It ain’t The Wire or Game of Thrones, but it’s also far from the worst TV show to ever debut. And I stress TV show. You ain’t reading any Shakespeare novels on the boob tube.

  10. Tom says:

    You forgot the other bit of quirkiness they added: the guy doesn’t know how to tie a tie, because…I dunno.

    • Gina says:

      Now that I think about it, is that a big problem with guys cuz it seems to be an issue in many movies and series I’ve watched. Dexter, a great fictional serial killer who by the way..THAT series had awesome actors and was kick ass period! Anywayz…he helped me to learn how to tie one in the season 3 finally. While getting dressed for his wedding he recited this little diddy as he tied his tie. ” The rabbit jumped over the log, the rabbit ran around the log, and around again then the rabbit jumped in his hole where he remained safe and sound. Presto! A perfectly tied tie

  11. Gina says:

    Loved your review. Sounds like something I’d write. Worst acting ever!

Comments are closed.