This sort of relates to an earlier post from today, Everything Old Is New Again. The Van Helsing character originally appeared in Bram Stoker’s Dracula way back in 1897 and vampires have been around, as stories, since at least the 18th century.
This time Van Helsing’s a she and not Hugh Jackman. I read somewhere that this new TV series, from SyFy, is The Walking Dead but with vampires so Stake Land then? Or even older than that, I Am Legend, Richard Matheson’s book not that awful movie starring Will Smith. The vampires in this brand spanking new TV series appear to be of the Stake Land variety, they’re evil looking individuals, gross and rancid dressed in rags and behaving like rabid dogs rather than being suave and sophisticated or far too pretty to be real.
I like my vampires as monsters not as heroes and not as romantic partners the ladies would like to copulate with, after all vampires are dead things, sex and romance with a vampire is akin to necrophilia and that’s all kinds of wrong that’s why I didn’t buy into True Blood or The Vampire Diaries the themes are the kind that interest me, that draw me into a story, horror and fantasy, but I’m just not girlie enough to be drawn into all that love and romance nonsense that infects far too much of the kind of stuff I should enjoy. I guess there’s enough room for everything, I don’t like the girlie stuff so I don’t watch it, I also don’t like TV, or movies, heavy on the drama, so I don’t watch them screw entertainment that mimics the real world I want my entertainment fantastical, I want to escape, even for a short time, from the real world not wallow in it.
Van Helsing starts using a story theme popular these days, especially in TV land, the time jump theme we’re shown moments of action or adventure and then we skip back in time twenty four hours or more and then events catch up with the beginning of the episode, I find it so annoying, I find it bad storytelling but then I’m a traditionalist I believe that all the best stories work and are still remembered because they had linear storylines there was a beginning that built to a middle point that led to The End and each of these best of stories had this three act structure beginning, middle and end. Would it be so bad to adhere to that structure? Surely for the purpose of telling a story it’s the best and simplest way to tell a story and I don’t know about anyone else but I find if everything’s simplified it becomes not only universally understood but also more interesting. The reason why politics and economics are so boring and misunderstood is because they’re so darn complicated.
Anyways Van Helsing attempts complicated by using the time jump story telling format, and sigh, but it’s actually simple it’s the end of the world as we know it, yep again, only it’s not zombies or a virus that’s put an end to human civilisation it’s vampires, obviously. Now here’s the problem I have with a Vampire Apocalypse rather than a Zombie Apocalypse vampires are fast, ridiculously so, surviving a vampire driven apocalypse would be next to impossible, you’d be better building a ladder to the moon.
Within the first ten, or fifteen, minutes of this new show, titled Van Helsing, the main character does nothing but sleep on a cold hard looking slab while an idiot U.S. marine does the one thing you never do in a post apocalyptic horror tale he lets people, survivors, into his secure base of operations. Sigh, hasn’t anyone in horror fiction read or watched horror fiction? He doesn’t even check any of the survivors for bites or signs of infection he just lets them in and then deals with their crap later, and ridiculous poorly written crap it sure is.
Come knocking on my door after an apocalypse, vampire or zombie, and I’m not letting you in, not ever, not that you could come knock on my door I live on the second floor of a building and the only entrance is via a six foot sturdy metal spiked fence with barbed wire covering the entirety of said fence, yup I’m ready for the apocalypse, got enough provisions to last a while and enough knives, axes and blunt instruments of death to kill a bunch of people dead if they do manage to climb over the fence, yeah I do watch and read far too much post apocalyptic fiction, if I was an American I’d have a cupboard, or small room, full of guns. But I’m not. Fortunately, or unfortunately come the apocalypse.
What I’ve come to learn from post apocalypse fiction is don’t trust people, don’t join up with a group of people, don’t follow a leader, don’t listen to anyone, don’t go into dark places, don’t go out at night, stay safe by staying alone in a secure place that’s easily defendable with plenty of food and water on hand and live near a couple of well stocked supermarkets because when vampires, or zombies, start chomping their way through the human race people are going to be too busy dying to raid them. Something post apocalyptic tales tend to get wrong. I have three supermarkets almost on my doorstep and one larger supermarket about five minutes away, less if I run, though come the apocalypse I’d have a nice, stolen, big van outside ready for supply runs or a quick escape.
In the episode, yeah this is supposed to be a post about a TV show but I have this affliction one of many during conversations I tend to go off at a tangent, or tangents, and then lose my original thread, it’s not something that troubles me, far from it, so yeah in this episode things start to go all kinds of wrong for the U.S. Marine who allowed survivors into his secure shelter, the survivors resent him, they fear and hate him and they plan his downfall. People are idiots, we all are, even our science types and super geniuses exhibit moments of incredible idiocy, it’s why we still have wars, crime, poverty, greed, and on and on never ending, so people are idiots and the U.S. Marine character should know that but he doesn’t and so this will lead to his downfall.
Though by the end of this first episode I was questioning why a Marine is still following orders three years after a vampire apocalypse with no contact with his superiors and having spent the last six months alone, the rest of his team dead or turned into vampires. What would motivate a person to live like that for so long, hanging on to orders from a military that no longer exists?
Naturally like all these kinds of stories, and especially in the lands of TV and movie, it’s flawed for example a small group of vampires find their way inside the secure facility, the humans manage to destroy them all but not one person, and certainly not the U.S. Marine, races off to re-secure a facility that’s proven insecure, instead we’re given human drama, characters weeping and feeling sorry for themselves before we’re offered any clue as to how the vampires forced their way into a place that’s been made to keep them out. Also one of the survivors was missing before this all went down and no one addressed his disappearance, when time catches up with the beginning of the episode and the main character Van Helsing wakes from her Sleeping Beauty slumber neither of the Marines tasked with guarding her offers her any information as to why she’s there and she offers nothing in return as to who she is and the missing character remains missing until the final moments of the episode and the reason none of the characters question why he was missing isn’t down to storytelling, like he was off having a poo or something, nope he was missing due to the writers/creators not being able to handle all the characters at one time, so they let characters disappear for great chunks of time without any thought to the people who are going to be watching their show.
This is bad storytelling and it’s also the norm in TV land these days, mystery developed by characters not sharing information or by remaining silent, characters absent without any explanation why. Eventually in these kinds of TV shows information is usually shared but never at the beginning we the viewer are forced to wait for it. Writers don’t seem to plan ahead, create character trees, make sure characters have specific motivations, develop a narrative and character arcs it’s as though they write a story fill it full of insensible decision making and build characters who don’t act at all like real people do. I’d sack all writers in TV, and movie, land if I had that super power and let monkeys write stories instead perhaps they’d be better constructed and perhaps characters wouldn’t act so unlike people.
I don’t know if you, dear reader, watch the Scream TV series it’s not great but it’s okay(ish) the serial killer always manages to be in the right place at the right time, like he or she is omniscient and omnipresent, and though they dress in a strange costume to carry out their killings no one, in this age of constant around the clock surveillance, notices them it’s not just Scream that suffers from this poor writing many TV shows and movies also possess character, or characters, who just happen to appear out of nowhere at the most opportune moment, The Walking Dead season after season features zombies that are capable of this ability, and who are also able to sneak about like ninjas one minute and then be noisier than a bull in a china shop the next. It is bad story telling but everyone just seems to accept it, suspension of disbelief to the max.
When this episode starts out it’s not so bad, it starts going bad once the Marine lets the survivors into his compound, it gets worst once the main character wakes up from her three year long slumber, and it’s downhill fast from there. It’s one of those shows that I could have found interesting and entertaining but something I’ll stop watching after three more episodes.
If it wanted to be The Walking Dead, but with vampires then it should have stole the opening moments of the show, and comic book, which stole from The Day of the Triffids, Van Helsing wakes up in a hospital, she’s been in a comatose state for three years and in that time the world’s gone to Hell, out she wanders into the devastated world and finds herself attacked by vampires only their bite doesn’t turn her instead it empowers her to be all superhero like and kick their asses and by the end of the episode she meets other survivors who let her know what’s happened but her only concern is finding her daughter. I would have just ripped off the first season of The Walking Dead but making enough adjustments so that viewers don’t really notice and based on this first episode, that should grip potential fans and draw them into the world being created, ripping off the first season of The Walking Dead would have been a better idea.