by Coop Cooper
“Scream” (MTV Tuesdays at 10/9C) – Based off of the hit 1996 horror film, this series brings the “Scream” franchise into the episodic world of TV and the internet. When a clique of high school teens maliciously leaks an embarrassing video on the internet, it goes viral and soon after, members of the clique and those around them start dying off under grisly circumstances. When the good girl of the group, Emma (Willa Fitzgerald), starts snooping, she learns the deaths might be connected to a murder spree in which her own mother was the sole survivor. As her friends die off, the list of suspects narrows and the situation becomes more deadly.
While “Scream: The Series” has the name, it hardly lives up to the original “Scream” film. Visually, the show looks like a soapy teen drama the likes you would often see on the CW channel. The performances from the mostly generic actors give little life to the cookie-cutter characters. However, the show’s biggest mistake is not using the iconic ‘Ghostface’ mask and Halloween costume from the original franchise in favor of a more simplistic white mask and hoodie. This should have been a no-brainer but the creators very wrongly assumed the Ghostface mask was lampooned too much in the “Scary Movie” films and robbed of its fear effect. Big mistake.
The kills and the gore seem tame, even by modern television standards, and to draw out the show’s storyline, it seems as many of the murders will be made to look like accidents or suicides to throw the cops off the trail.
Movies translated into series are rarely good and usually don’t catch my attention, but, the show does have an interesting ‘whodunit’ quality to it that makes tuning in an encouraging proposition. The red herrings are placed in such a way that audiences will not be able to figure out the killer’s identity so easy as most of the clues are false. Plus, Fitzgerald appears to be a more promising actor than the rest and a few of the characters are likable, but will probably die off before they can be fully developed. “Scream” could succeed if it leaned more heavily on its meta elements as the original film did and have characters attempt to predict how to survive based on the rules and cliches of modern horror films. It could improve but it will have to pull a few rabbits out of its hat to keep the storyline fresh.
2 and ½ out of 5 stars
“Mr. Robot” (USA Wednesdays at 10/9C) – Elliot (Rami Malek), a socially awkward cybersecurity expert for a Microsoft-like corporation, secretly moonlights as a hacker vigilante with fantasies of sabotaging his own employer. After stopping a potentially catastrophic virus from crippling his employer, he is approached by the mysterious leader of a hacker collective calling himself ‘Mr. Robot’ (Christian Slater) who wants to recruit Elliot to help change the world by hacking and destroying evil corporations. Lured by the lofty ideals of the collective, Elliot agrees and helps them take down the CEO of the company he works for, but this act leads Elliot deep into the dangerous and paranoid world of cyberterrorism. As Elliot plays both sides, he runs the risk of being erased himself.
What is so arresting about “Mr. Robot” is its cinematic style and the performances, especially by Malek who has gotten by in the past as a funny-looking character actor. Here he proves himself to be a powerfully adept lead in a role where his nerdy style and intense demeanor works in his favor. Slater plays more of a sleazy con man than a conspiracy leader, but it’s nice to see him working. The cast of supporting characters is well developed and smartly acted.
The visual style of the show feels like a slick, well-shot film in the vein of Francis Ford Coppola’s masterful paranoid thriller “The Conversation”. The pilot episode was so strong, it was released online in early June but the following episodes are just as compelling and edgy when they released on July 1st. “Mr. Robot” is one of the most expertly made shows on TV, and a must-see.
5 out of 5 stars