Monday, May 9, 2016

TV on DVD Review: Scream - The TV Series - Season 1

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Suspenseful, entertaining, great characters
Cons: One aspect of plot seems a bit forced
The Bottom Line:
Killer on the loose
Deadly secrets come to light
Find out who survives

“You Can’t Do a Slasher Movie as a TV Series.”

Hidden around my blog, you’ll find a few reviews of one of my guilty pleasures – the slasher film.  While most of them are fairly bad, the one franchise I’ve really enjoyed is the Scream movies.  (Yes, I’m the weirdo who likes 3 and 4 while acknowledging they are much weaker than the first two.)  So when it was announced that MTV was going to create a TV show version of the franchise, I was in.  While definitely not as good as the movies, there is still plenty of fun to be had here.

Like the first movie, this film opens with a young woman (Bella Thorne) home alone at night.  However, her threatening messages come via text message and an ap.  This is the 21st century after all.  Oh, and she and her boyfriend had just released a video of a classmate.  Not that they get to enjoy any of the fallout from that video since they are our opening victioms.

When news of the brutal murder breaks the next day, the students at the school in town are understandably shocked and upset.  However, the killer seems to be contacting Emma Duval (Willa Fitzgerald) and teasing her with information about her mother’s past.  It seems her mother (Tracy Middendorf) has a secret that someone is determined to reveal.  Does it have anything to do with the killings that took place 20 years ago?  As the body count begins to rise, Emma realizes she needs to solve this mystery if she wants to stay alive and protect her friends.

To be honest, this could have been called anything and it still would have worked well.  There is no connection to the Scream film franchise in character or looks.  Heck, the killer even wears a different mask.  While I did miss the iconic Ghostface mask, there is a reason for the mask the killer wears here, and I liked that aspect of things.

The one connection this has to the films is the tone.  The characters know they are in a horror story and reference the conventions of the genre every so often.  It’s not as self-aware or biting as the first film, but it is fun.  They even make a nice reference to the first film in passing that I loved.

Blood thirsty fans will be disappointed with the toned down violence, but this is a TV show after all even if it is on MTV.  Frankly, I still found the deaths plenty bloody for my tastes, which are decidedly tame for a fan of the genre.  The chase scenes aren’t as elaborate as a movie, but they still work well to build up some good suspense.

The biggest problem that a TV show of this nature has is how many characters to kill off and when.  While the recent show Scream Queens boasted about one death an episode, some of those killed were only introduced in the episode where they died.  This show went to the other extreme and had some episodes where no one died.  I’m not sure which side is correct.  The episodes without any murders definitely advanced the plot and gave us plenty of tension, however, so I still enjoyed them.

At its heart, the Scream franchise has always been a mystery story (maybe one reason I like them), and we get some good twists and surprises on the way to unmasking the killer.  I’m still not quite sure I buy that revelation, mainly because of the twist they put on screen during the final few moments.  I’ll probably decide how I feel about it as season two unspools since it will have to address that.

And I will definitely be back since the characters are good.  The producers have said they had a hard time killing people off since they grew to love the cast and their characters, and I can see why.  While they initially fall into high school stereotypes, those who live long enough begin to be very real, which upped the tension on the show – I didn’t want any of them to die either.  Obviously, this means the cast does a great job bringing them to life.

There were 10 episodes in the first season, and they are preserved here in their native wide screen and full surround.  Extras include a gag reel and cut scenes.

While Scream – The TVSeries won’t appeal to everyone, fans who give it a chance will find themselves caught up in an entertaining, and deadly, story.  I’m looking forward to seeing the next deadly chapter unfold soon.

Season 1 Episodes:
1. Pilot
2. Hello, Emma
3. Wanna Play a Game?
4. Aftermath
5. Exposed
6. Betrayed
7. In the Trenches
8. Ghosts
9. The Dance
10. Revelations

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