In a bid to provide us with some welcome relief from overwhelming piles of assessments and internships and job applications, my boyfriend recently went in search of a TV show we could get addicted to. What he came up with was Zoo, a show based on James Patterson’s novel that has recently finished its first season over in America. It’s safe to say the boy done good.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the novel the basic plot follows an uprising of the animal kingdom as every species begins to develop the knowledge and ability needed to overthrow mankind. Unfortunately for die hard book fans, that’s pretty much where the similarities to the book end. Do not despair though! For those of you out there mumbling to yourselves ‘It’ll never be as good as the book’ I urge you to give it a try. James Patterson himself, who worked as a producer on the show has said that he believe the show may be even better than the book. But with the multitude of major differences between the two versions, I believe it’s best to treat them both as separate stories.
The show follows a group of five individuals who are brought together to investigate a series of unusual animal attacks. Now for the squeamish among us, don’t worry, despite the vast number of attacks, there’s not too much blood and gore, at least none more so than you’d expect. I myself used to have a very strong stomach, which has recently abandoned me, and aside from maybe one of two moments in the entire series, my gag reflexes were barely troubled.
The very first episode was arguably a little slow, with only one character really grabbing my attention (typically this being the character that is then subject to a lion attack). But the first episode left me wanting more, it provided me with questions that I needed the answers to, which ultimately is what we all want from the start of a series. Each episode continued in this pattern, although the opening pace increases as the series progresses.
The great thing about this show was that although a lot of it was heavily based in science, we were provided with a great mix of characters who had varying levels of understanding of the science involved. Through these characters, the complicated science parts were always explained in the most basic terms so that even I, with my hard earned D grades in chemistry and biology A level could understand what was happening. The science characters would explain what was going on, the less science characters would request it in ‘basic english’, it would then be re-explained and not dwelled upon too much. This meant that the show was thankfully not overwhelmed by the biology of the animals as it so easily could have been, which left plenty of room for excitement, tension and excellent wit from the characters.
On the whole the characters were well developed, although I often felt the characters we were meant to care about the most, Jackson, Chloe and Jaimie were actually the ones I cared about the least. These three were the characters that we were given the biggest back story for, the most motivation and yet I’m inclined to say they were the most boring. Jackson was really the less entertaining half of his original duo with Safari Guide Abe; Chloe was needed to provide a link to the corrupt government officials involved with the story; and Jaimie was needed as the young, slightly naïve and less scientifically knowledgeable character who, in my opinion, the audience were meant to relate to the most. Unfortunately she was outshined by her unlikely (yet slightly predictable) love interest Mitch Morgan.
The performances of Nonzo Anozie and Billy Burke as Abe Kenyatta and Mitch Morgan respectively overthrew the rest of the cast. This isn’t necessarily an insult to any of the other main actors in the show, it’s just that these two were so captivating that I dare anyone not to care about them more. They both provided their own unique form of wit, and Billy Burke did his usual thing of giving a slightly grumpy, extremely sarcastic, monotone performance that only he can really pull off. They both provided the much needed comic relief that a show like this needs to prevent it getting too bogged down in the impending doom facing all mankind.
Despite being one of the less endearing characters, I was very impressed with Chloe played by Nora Arnezeder. For once, finally, we were given a female character in a position of power who was not only totally kickass and great with a flame thrower, but also compassionate and caring. She was an extremely well rounded female character who could so easily have been made into an ambitious but useless female agent stereotype. It’s just a shame that she was so often outshone by Abe and Mitch.
Overall this was a great series that I would enthusiastically recommend to anyone. The plot was tense and excited and gripped us so much that we’d watched all thirteen episodes within a week. It was of course, like any show, open to slight annoyances (the characters’ aversion to closing doors often led me to shouting profanities at the screen) but overall it was sound and everything we were shown, we were shown for a reason. Everything was important. My only advice for those embarking on the journey through this series would be, make sure you have a free calendar for a while because you’re not going to want to do anything else once you’re hooked. Oh, and maybe mentally prepare yourself for episode 8 if you already have a phobia of rats.