The virus is breaking out in The Strain (S01E01-S01E05)
Don't call them vampires. These are strigoi, parasites, worms at first, that slowly take over their hosts and live off of the blood of others. They won't bite you in the neck either. Not with human teeth at least. That's where the several feet long stinger comes in, that they launch from the hosts' mouth.
These are the heydays of television. This year alone we saw several prolific directors use tv to tell their stories instead of film. Of course we had David Fincher, who did House of Cards for Netflix. But this year we saw the Coen brothers resurrect Fargo, Steven Soderbergh's The Knick just started airing, and here we have Guillermo del Toro bringing his novel to the small screen.
All take their own unique styles to their series, and that's what The Strain definitely is, a fresh take on the genre. It's more based on the real world as we know it and so far has mostly stayed there, with the main character Dr. Goodweather questioning all the supernatural happenings.
Dr. Ephraim Goodweather (played by Corey Stoll) is head of the Centers for Disease Control in New York. When a plane lands on JFK with all the lights turned off and no visible life, he is the first one to go in. But what he finds is obviously nothing he has seen before.
What follows could've easily turned into a cliche-fest, but the virus angle has kept the show quite fresh until now. There's still the classic human-turns-vampire element, but the experience is more focused on the biological aspects, people getting sick and are slowly taken over by the virus. The outcome of the virus isn't quite what we're used to either. The 'strigoi' have more alien-like elements like the long stinger they launch from the human's mouth, and classic vampire teeth are nowhere in sight.
Throw in some backstories and you're getting quite an interesting buildup. We have some dark and powerful people/creatures steering and controlling the outbreak. Dr. Goodweather losing custody of his son — although this was pretty predictable so far and the storyline has taken the back burner for now. Professor Abraham Setrakian, a Holocaust survivor who has dealt with the creatures before. Goodweather's colleague, Dr. Nora Martinez, who can't deal with this extreme situation. And a couple more, like a gangster that just came out of prison, an extreme rock star who gets invected and a Russian guy who works for the New York City Bureau of Pest Control.
He was the one to find the strigoi had taken over the New York sewers, after wondering why the rats had fled above the ground. I haven't read up on the books the series is based on, so it would be fun if this is the start of a real outbreak. A sort of Walking Dead situation, with humans in the minority. I did read — stop here if you hate spoilers — that Corey Stoll's wig is there for a reason though. As the producers described there's a transformation he has to go through in the story, and we can all guess where that's going..
With The Strain it looks like FX has another hit on their hands. The network is quite good at picking series that balance nicely on the believable side and don't take it too far. The Americans is another great example of a series that could've easily been one big cliche, but isn't. The story still feels like it's just getting started though, so we'll be keeping an eye on this one.