Should I give up on ‘The Passage’ TV show?

Saniyya Sidney as Amy and Mark-Paul Gosselaar as Brad in “The Passage”

I enjoyed reading “The Passage” (as well as “The Twelve” and “The City of Mirrors,” which I wrote about here), and it has been long enough since I read those books that I could approach the new Fox drama with a fresh perspective.

But after three episodes, I’m not sure if I need to see any more. There’s both too much (too many characters, too far-fetched situations, too quick moving, especially in terms of Amy’s swift move through the foster system), and not enough — not enough character development, not enough at stake between Amy and Brad, actually not enough reason for me to understand or care that much about Brad at all.

One thing that struck me even before seeing the show is that I thought I would find it on FX, instead of Fox. FX is where the edgier shows are. Show that I watch, like the first season of “Legion” and “Fargo” and, yes, “The Strain” (which starts with a mystery — what happened to these people on that plane? what’s about to happen to everyone else?). Fox, meanwhile, is home to shows that I might try and quit, like “The Orville.”

Remember “Lost”? Remember how much time was spent, at least in that first season, with flashbacks that helped us get off the island and to get to know the characters. It is always a sign that This Character Is Important. So far it seems the longest extended flashback is of Babcock — one of the death-row inmates turned into a viral. Is she that important? Is she more important than Brad or Amy?

One thing I can’t tell yet is whether the TV is slow or if it just feels slow. Sure, lots of things are happening — chases and stuff — but if feels slow because I think I keep waiting to feel a connection with a character, especially with Amy.

Part of the problem might be Amy’s voice-over, which just raises the questions of where is Amy now and to whom is she talking?

Another issue might just be the cinematography. So much of the show looks too bright and clean to be dark, creepy, and scary.

Or maybe its because there isn’t much mystery to it. Everyone knows they’re made vampires, as one does to counter a bird flu epidemic. There are moral quandaries about it. What could be the central tension is showing the actions needed to exploit the virals for a health cure, while at the same time showing people doing things to mitigate their fearsome bloodsucking. Instead, it looks like the holding areas of the virals are well established and protocols are in place, and every now and then mucketymucks sit at a conference room table and confer. Worse yet, even as the scientists are slowly realizing that the virals have psychic abilities, they are doing nothing yet to see if that is true or to try to stop them.

There are long moments when Richards, who seems to be the head security guard for the bad-guy scientists, is utterly frozen in place and staring dumbly nowhere as the viral Babcock plays her melodramatic backstory in his mind. After three episodes, that seems to be a good analogy for “The Passage” as a whole, so much inaction in the face of melodrama.

Are you watching the show? Are you sticking with it?

Published by Michael Janairo

Writer. Reader. Coffee drinker. Fiction. Poetry. Art. Museums. (My family name is pronounced "ha NIGH row.")

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