Zoo – The Day of the Beast

zooThere are different levels and types of terrible. There is the “I would rather scratch my eyeballs out with a microplane grater than watch that again” terrible. The “this is so unspeakably awful I can’t stop laughing at it” terrible. The “this is the most glorious trash I’ve ever seen” terrible. Then there is the “I will joyfully pick this apart like its my job” terrible.

CBS’ “Zoo” is a kaleidoscope of all of these, plus a few I didn’t mention. It’s the classic tale of an intrepid band of five heroes (a safari guide, his African friend/wall of muscle, the tenacious reporter, a cantankerous veterinary pathologist, and a French secret agent) traveling the world because animals are attacking and killing people in new and exciting ways.

It’s even crazier than it sounds. Toward the end of the first season, the writers really amped up the fishtits crazy.

And I respect the hell out of them for that.

Season two opens at the cliffhanger from season 1: thousands upon thousands of animals, we’re talking giraffes, elephants, bears, tigers, the whole enchilada, are lined up in front of the Washington monument, like a bizarre echo of the civil rights Great March.

No, you read it right.

If the first episode of season two is any indication, the writers just told reality to go fuck itself. Whatever pretense the show had to being “science!” and it was a damned thin pretense, is gone. To differentiate shows that actually do make an effort to, you know, follow the laws of physics and biology, let’s call this show’s version “sckience.”

The band of heroes, who all miraculously survived a massive jet crash over the Atlantic, because that’s a thing that happens, are missing one plucky reporter (yeah, she survived, too, but ended up in Canada after her jet from Africa to DC exploded). The Noah’s Ark reunion in our Nation’s capital is making a hash of their plans to take a helicopter to New Brunswick to fetch her. In a helicopter. A 1500km trip. One way.

See? It’s this kind of complete inattention to detail that makes this show so much fun to watch.

Cast of Zoo from left: Nora Arnezeder as Chloe Tousignant, James Wolk as Jackson Oz, Billy Burke as Mitch Morgan, Kristen Connolly as Jamie Campbell, and Nonso Anozie as Abraham Kenyatta.
Cast of Zoo from left: Nora Arnezeder as Chloe Tousignant, James Wolk as Jackson Oz, Billy Burke as Mitch Morgan, Kristen Connolly as Jamie Campbell, and Nonso Anozie as Abraham Kenyatta.

Heading up the team is the handsome and earnest Jackson Oz (really), a safari guide with daddy issues. His love interest is Chloe Tousignant, a French secret service agent. The towering and very broad voice of reason in the crew is Abraham Kenyatta, one of Jackson’s friends from Africa, natch. The journalist with a blog full of conspiracy theories is Jamie Campbell who swept up the grumpy veterinary pathologist, Mitch Morgan, into this zany adventure.

Jackson, a poor man’s Kyle Chandler, is likable if not particularly memorable. Chloe doesn’t have the gravitas to really pull off being commander of the team, but she looks like a model and has the requisite accent. Abraham is a character that should work but doesn’t really. Jamie is unremarkable, and Mitch, who is supposed to be the dark brooding one, is just an asshole.

The romantic pairings are predictable, in a girl-boy-girl-boy kind of way. Though, pairing Mitch and Jamie is weird and, to me, a little creepy. It doesn’t help that suddenly in one scene they are kissing. A big problem is the lack of chemistry.

Ultimately, none of that matters, because there are animals doing completely impossible things that defy the laws of physics (in this show, its more like  p-Hysics).

The big things that happened this week are in order of importance:

  • They got a gigantic plane with a badass lab. It’s like Agents of Zoo up in here. It seems like just a few weeks ago they were a ragtag band flying under the radar. They grow up so fast.
  • A tiger decides to lick Jackson instead of eat him, so Jackson is magic.
  • A human, who is supposed to be immune, has mutated into a very ugly “Oh no, I’m mutating! I’m a monster!” latex beast from every body horror movie since The Thing.
  • The mutation has moved to Season 2, I mean Phase 2, so all the stuff last season? Out the window.
  • Jamie is still lost in Canada.
  • The team went to Argentina and came back with a low rent Michelle Rodriguez.

“Zoo” runs the gamut through all the different kinds of terrible. But sometimes you need a little crazy. And a show that appears to be written by a bunch of bros drinking beers around a table and asking each other “Wouldn’t it be cool if. .  ?” fits the bill nicely.

“Zoo” airs Tuesday’s at 8pm CDT on CBS. The next “review” of the show will actually talk about what happened in the episode.

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