The Terror

Discuss TV shows old and new.
Post Reply
Message
Author
User avatar
Murdoch
Joined: Sun Apr 20, 2008 11:59 pm
Location: Upstate NY

The Terror

#1 Post by Murdoch » Wed Aug 21, 2019 6:43 pm

I haven't yet seen the second season premiere, but season one was a return to form for AMC. After the network's dry spell following the finales of Mad Men and Breaking Bad, The Terror managed to craft a slow-burn horror from Dan Simmons' novel that was a welcome embrace of the season-long anthology format. Perhaps I'm just happy to have a show embrace that style of television that isn't the hollow American Horror Story series, but I felt The Terror's first season was every bit as good as its admirers made it out to be.
SpoilerShow
While the introduction of the monster could have devolved the story into a seafaring The Thing, the focus on the crew's internal politics as the monster crept into the focus more made the story less of a straight-up killer monster story and more a critique of the era's colonialism. The one crewmember's mutiny, the descent into cannibalism that followed and the doctor's struggle to maintain his morality in the face of the hell surrounding him grounded the fantastical into the reality of the crew's desperation.

I do fear the monster visuals won't age well down the line, especially the beast's face that looked overly reminiscent of the orcs from the Lord of the Rings, but regardless of how the visuals age, the final bloody encounter was an excellent climax.
Last edited by Murdoch on Sun Oct 06, 2019 3:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Adam Grikepelis
Joined: Thu Apr 16, 2009 5:04 am

Re: The Terror

#2 Post by Adam Grikepelis » Thu Aug 22, 2019 9:16 am

Are you saying the second season isn't a continuation of the same story, but a whole new one?

User avatar
jazzo
Joined: Sun Nov 17, 2013 12:02 am

Re: The Terror

#3 Post by jazzo » Thu Aug 22, 2019 10:12 am

The first season was an adaptation of the Dan Simmons novel. This season is an original story set within a Japanese internment camp during the second world war.

I was a huge fan of the first season. I look forward to this one, despite the absence of excellent literary source material.

User avatar
jazzo
Joined: Sun Nov 17, 2013 12:02 am

Re: The Terror

#4 Post by jazzo » Thu Aug 22, 2019 11:05 am

And great summation, Murdoch. Agreed on all counts.

The weakest things about the first series were the monster effects, which seemed slightly too computery and weightless at times, and perhaps that the series, while beautifully photographed, seemed to miss any sense that the temperature was always bone-chillingly cold for these men, at least when the ships were frozen in the ice. Otherwise, I thought the characters were beautifully textured and handled by the actors, although that depth was present in the novel, too.

If anyone’s interested (and all the monster stuff aside), I consider Simmons' novel, and all its fascinating non-fiction research woven into a pretty compelling genre story, one of my favourite reading experiences of the last decade (although, full disclosure: stories of early exploration and, particularly, arctic exploration hold a fascination for me). He's since tried to replicate the historical horror formula with other books, but none have been anywhere near as successful.

User avatar
Murdoch
Joined: Sun Apr 20, 2008 11:59 pm
Location: Upstate NY

Re: The Terror

#5 Post by Murdoch » Thu Aug 22, 2019 4:23 pm

Thanks Jazzo!

I picked up the book but have yet to dive into it. Hopefully this new season will remain strong despite there being no source material to draw its story from (although showrunner Alexander Woo says this season delves deeply into Japanese folklore to pull it's horror elements from, which is intriguing).

Regarding season one, the scenes set back in England didn't add up to much for me, but did provide a needed context for Ciaran Hinds and Jared Harris's antagonism, especially in setting up
SpoilerShow
the eventual mutiny.
That said, I'm just being nitpicky at this point since the merits of season one are so many. Particularly the dynamic between Ciaran Hinds, Jared Harris and Tobias Menzies, and I loved how the latter two's relationship developed in the season's second half. The writers paid a lot of attention to the characters and their interactions, which I appreciated. While that's true of most contemporary TV shows focusing on ensembles, what made it most captivating here is how the relationships, some formerly antagonistic and others formerly friendly, evolved in a different direction by season's end. There's a nuance to the interactions here that is largely missing from many shows.

User avatar
Adam Grikepelis
Joined: Thu Apr 16, 2009 5:04 am

Re: The Terror

#6 Post by Adam Grikepelis » Sat Aug 24, 2019 10:44 am

jazzo wrote:
Thu Aug 22, 2019 10:12 am
The first season was an adaptation of the Dan Simmons novel. This season is an original story set within a Japanese internment camp during the second world war.
That's an interesting approach. I guess it's cheaper than licensing another novel. Not sure whether to read the book or watch the first season, though given my horrible inability to read whole books for way too long now, I suspect I may end up doing the latter.

User avatar
Murdoch
Joined: Sun Apr 20, 2008 11:59 pm
Location: Upstate NY

Re: The Terror

#7 Post by Murdoch » Thu Sep 05, 2019 9:46 pm

I'll reserve further thoughts until I watch more than the first episode, but the subtlety of the first season's horror and slow burn aren't really present in season two's premiere. Compare season one's opening of two white men asking an Eskimo man about the fate of the titular ship's crew to season two, in which the opening scene shows a Japanese woman jamming a hair stick into her ear. So far this feels more like a straight horror story with a historical storyline thrown in to give it more depth. The writing feels lazy, with the political tension of the first season replaced by rote examples of racism and jumpscares. The first episodes of season one weren't all that riveting but they at least avoided steering the story into predictable horror tropes.

User avatar
barryconvex
billy..biff..scooter....tommy
Joined: Fri Aug 24, 2012 10:08 pm
Location: NYC

Re: The Terror

#8 Post by barryconvex » Mon Oct 21, 2019 1:43 am

Murdoch, can you comment on the rest of season two? I gave up my cable package and no longer have any live tv options so I haven't seen it yet.

User avatar
thirtyframesasecond
Joined: Mon Apr 02, 2007 1:48 pm

Re: The Terror

#9 Post by thirtyframesasecond » Mon Oct 21, 2019 2:45 am

I don't think this has been shown in the UK. Given the premise of S1 and the presence of some quality thesps, I'd risk a season purchase, sight unseen. Would you recommend it? For S1 at least?

User avatar
Murdoch
Joined: Sun Apr 20, 2008 11:59 pm
Location: Upstate NY

Re: The Terror

#10 Post by Murdoch » Mon Oct 21, 2019 11:04 am

thirtyframesasecond, I would highly recommend season one. I couldn't find a good option to watch it so I ended up purchasing the blu-ray. I rarely buy television seasons on disc but this was worth it.
barryconvex wrote:
Mon Oct 21, 2019 1:43 am
Murdoch, can you comment on the rest of season two? I gave up my cable package and no longer have any live tv options so I haven't seen it yet.
Unfortunately it doesn't get better. The series devolves into melodrama halfway through, focusing a lot of its attention on the family dynamics of the central characters over the much more compelling narrative of the Japanese internment camp. By the season's halfway point, the internment camp is just a backdrop, with the struggles of its residents pushed to the side.

Part of the problem is this season is overwhelmingly focused on one character named Chester, whereas the first season was an ensemble. This by itself wouldn't be a problem if Chester weren't an unlikeable jerk whose story becomes so unrelated to the internment camp by the end that the writers just throw in a plot point here and there to bring the camp back into focus. Like, why set the story in such an interesting place ripe for conflict and drama when you're just going to discard it in favor of some heavy-handed, soap opera-esque family turmoil?

Another problem is the monster.
SpoilerShow
In season one, the monster felt like an organic part of the story - a beast summoned to rid the land of colonizing explorers. Here, I'm not sure what the point of the monster is other than to toss in some gory scenes and distract from Chester yelling at his uncle and aunt. The monster can seemingly travel across the world without issue, even following Chester into Japan when he enlists with the US military, then following him back to the internment camp when he's sent back. It can possess whoever it likes and its power seems entirely dependent on what the plot needs of it.
My position is don't bother with season two. It appears the strength of season one came largely from Simmons' source material and the stellar casting. Here, at times it felt like watching a self-serious version of American Horror Story.

User avatar
barryconvex
billy..biff..scooter....tommy
Joined: Fri Aug 24, 2012 10:08 pm
Location: NYC

Re: The Terror

#11 Post by barryconvex » Tue Oct 22, 2019 12:39 am

Ugh, I was afraid you were going to say something along those lines. But thank you for the reply. Thirtyframes, season one was the best tv show of last year by a mile. I've watched it twice and will no doubt rewatch it a third time before too long. The ensemble cast is without a weak link and Adam Nagaitis and Jared Harris turn in exceptional work. There's really not much I would criticize, maybe some of the CGI wasn't great but that's a minor complaint. There's also the most devastating final shot I can remember.

Post Reply