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TV Series Review

Forget suave. Forget sparkly. The Strain's vampires don't care what you think of them. They just want your blood. Your body. Your soul.

Pretty ambitious for a parasitic worm.

The vampires in FX's horrible horror series The Strain are infected with said worm—making them not so much creatures of the unholy night as really, really sick patients in a troubled trauma center. The parasites, introduced to New York via an intercontinental flight, infect their human hosts and remake them in a manner more suitable for the invaders: They raise the body's temperature several degrees. They cause it to shed whatever hair it has, leaving the skin marble smooth. They rewire the jaw so it can drop farther. That allows a long proboscis to shoot from the mouth and skewer prey, which both siphons off blood and infects the new victim, ensuring the propagation of the species.

It's a nasty, terrifying disease.

But it is still, apparently, just a disease—not some sort of magical curse or unholy condition. And as the parasites worm their way deeper into the Big Apple, a small phalanx of doctors, scientists and latter-day vampire hunters struggle to bring the contagion under control.

Ephraim Goodweather and Nora Martinez—doctors for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—are the first to suspect that something's amiss. Despite pressure from their bosses to drop the case, as well as Eph's familial distractions (he's in the midst of a quarrelsome custody battle for his son, Zach), they work relentlessly toward saving this city that, more than ever, doesn't sleep.

But there's something else at work here, too, something ... malevolent. Parasites, by nature, are amoral: They just do what they do. But these scary critters have a Master, a mysterious being who sleeps in a massive coffin. The Master seems to be in charge of the whole works and is served by an undead Nazi named Thomas Eichhorst. A disease is one thing, but a race of bloodsuckers controlled by something close to pure evil? Eph and Nora may need some reinforcements.

The Strain is the brainchild of creature-feature director Guillermo del Toro. He co-wrote three novels (with Chuck Hogan) on which the series is based and directed the first episode. And with such a man at the helm, it's a given that the result will practically gush with grotesquery. And while the vampires here are as unsexy as a sentient being can be, that doesn't prevent viewers from getting an eyeful of side nudity and simulated sex when the blood isn't oozing. There's quite a bit of bad language, too.

You could say, then, that The Strain is in need of a strainer.


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Episode Reviews

Strain: 7-20-2014



Readability Age Range



Corey Stoll as Dr. Ephraim Goodweather; David Bradley as Professor Abraham Setrakian; Mia Maestro as Dr. Nora Martinez; Kevin Durand as Vasily Fet; Jonathan Hyde as Eldritch Palmer; Richard Sammel as Thomas Eichorst; Sean Astin as Jim Kent; Jack Kesy as Gabriel Bolivar; Natalie Brown as Kelly Goodweather; Miguel Gomez as Gus Elizalde; Ben Hyland as Zach Goodweather






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On Video

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Paul Asay

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