Did ‘Scream’ Work as a TV Series?
Horror and television has a sporadic relationship. It doesn’t happen as often as it should and when it does it only occasionally hits the mark. Restrictions of television means that the content is often muted, leaving it to shows like American Horror Story to push the envelope and that’s mostly in atmosphere rather than content. Maybe the upcoming Evil Dead will change things up but in the meantime we’re make do with Scream. Is it worth it?
There’s a few problems coming out the gate, that being the structure of the slasher movie is not ideally suited to a long running narrative. Suspension of disbelief plays a large role in these movies – a human killer isn’t going to get away with this shit for long. Carving up parties of teens in a town where the cops are already on high alert isn’t going to end with a slick escape. The show itself acknowledges this and other problems right out the gate when the Nerd character outlines them in a class discussion (something that happens all the time, I’m sure).
This entire scene was an oddity in itself. When your premise is rocky the last thing you should be doing is drawing attention to it in the form of a monologue. And some post-modern bollocks of talking about it directly doesn’t excuse it. This didn’t bode well for the series as a whole, and the pilot episode seemed to trying to emulate the original film as much as possible, just two decades after Scream was heralded as an original concept that brought a swarm of imitators. There were a number of viewers who were quick to judge on this one episode alone and wrote it off as a fail. Nobody likes those people.
As the series went on the show did not ingratiate itself through good characterisation or good plotting. It did, however, develop a charm of its own through a clear love of the genre. Every player in the game fulfilled a set stereotype and did little to deviate from there, but multiple subplots were introduced and with it came intrigue. In addition to the usual masked killer with a shadowy backstory we had a creepy hospital, blackmail, mysterious figures and hokey technological gimmicks – this time around they were spying on each other with webcams.
The Ghostface killer and their identity was at the backbone, but the show runners did a good job of twisting various elements together to produce a better complete product. The kills started out as generic to some more elaborate and gruesome affairs as the episodes wound on, with the main characters boyfriend…splitting…being a shocking highlight.
Overall the series is ranking at the midway point on Metacritic and Rottentomatoes, so the strengths of the shows may have come to late. Leaving the show on a surprise twist cliffhanger to be continued in the next season was a bot of a let down. It would have been better to get closure and start over with a new story in an anthology type fashion. The show never elevated itself above the level of Scream 3, but hopefully it opens the doors for something better to enter the spotlight.