Pilot: “Channel Zero: Candle Cove”

A good horror TV series is tough to find. So many restrictions to overcome and clichés to avoid, what’s a writer to do? Exciting, interesting, and scary are tough elements to bring together, and that’s just to get people watching consistently. Once you have that, how does one keep that going for multiple seasons? While this season goes on, it’s sure to be a question that keeps coming up. The upside and downside of already having a second season.

The new Universal Cable Productions series “Channel Zero: Candle Cove”, is already a disturbing, scary, and entertaining series. I can’t wait for more and wish there were many more episodes than we’re getting for the season.

This horror anthology series stars Paul Schneider (“Café Society”, “The Tunnel”), Fiona Shaw (“Maigret Sets a Trap”, “Masterpiece Mystery”), Luisa D’Oliveira (“The 100”, “Love on the Sidelines”), Natalie Brown (“The Strain”, “Dark Matter”), Shaun Benson (“Gangland Undercover”, “ARQ”), Luca Villacis (“The Midnight Man”), Abigail Pniowsky (upcoming “Arrival”, “The Midnight Man”), and Marie Stephenson Kerr (“Borealis”, “Perfect Sisters”).

The series was created by Nick Antosca (“The Forest”, “The Player”).

It originally debuted on Oct. 11, 2016 on SyFy.

I do love surprises! Mostly those that end in a positive outcome, like most people, but sometimes a negative one is enough to get you to wake up. Anywho. This positive surprise isn’t one I was expecting. I wasn’t sure what to think about this new anthology series, only that I wanted to see it. The network marketed it pretty heavily and well, but largely I ignored it. I wish I could say it was so I could have a low level of expectation, but it wasn’t. I simply avoided it, but largely missed it. Fast forwarding recorded programs can do that. And now it’s here! While this series may have debuted during SyFy’s “31 Days of Halloween”, which is seeing a lot of premiers, mainly with new TV movie’s, it’s the one premier I was definitely the most excited about. And it paid off the most!

For starters, it’s creepy all around, and that’s pretty difficult to pull off even with SyFy Original Movies. The whole thing seemed to start off slow, but it wasn’t too slow and certainly not boring. Pretty quickly there was a lot of mystery to start the episode out and as you started to learn a little about Schneider and see him come home, you got a good idea about him and a good picture of the show’s pacing. But that didn’t last long. Pretty seen it all started to turn into this creepy, eerie, and slightly disturbing series. A definite plus. It started to show what made this episode work, and will no doubt make the series a must watch. It could build fear quite well. The fear building, which was pretty consistent when utilized, didn’t let up until it was time. Each bit, for me, lasted the right amount of time. I was surprised each time, and I guess you could say a kind of panic started to manifest. It didn’t last long, but when I can get into a show like this enough, and come away being scared, even a tiny bit, something was done right. And that’s just the present day storyline.

The use of flashbacks in this episode actually surprised me. In terms of flashbacks, I don’t think I’ve seen them put to this kind of great use, ever. Sure flashbacks all serve one purpose, and typically achieve that end, but other than twists, shocks, or revelations, which this series clearly will stick too, there’s not much else. Okay, character insights, but that seems to go without saying. Here, it’s to build up something even more crucial than what information we didn’t know before, in my humble opinion. Man, did I really just type that? It’s to keep building the suspense and fear. Little by little, things of a creepy nature keep unspooling, and along with that, your growing uncertainty of what is happening. It really did work. And when one particular reveal during the episode, which wasn’t really shocking or anything like that, as this isn’t an episode of “How to Get Away with Murder”, it was just deeply unsettling. The execution was perfect. This reveal along with so much other very creepy and fear inducing aspects certainly made these flashbacks and the episode enjoyable and memorable.

In a short amount of time I also got the sense that this series is going to be a pretty good character study. Mainly, thus far, for Schneider. He was the one most affected, and whom we follow in the flashbacks. Sure this could change a little bit over the next few weeks, but I doubt it. There’s also the fact that because of the pacing of the episode, you weren’t just zipping on by and seeing characters react. They actually got the chance to exist, do something, and then react, typically to another action of a creepy and concerning nature. There may not be a lot of characters, but there’s enough and I must say I like them all already. I’m truly excited to see what we’ll learn next and how they each respond to it. Worst case, we don’t really learn much about these others, and only see them respond accordingly to what happens in the present.

And just quickly, to reaffirm what you may have already figured out, this series has a pretty solid story. On top of everything else, there’s a story that knows how to build fear and keep my interest. I can certainly feel better about giving up watching “Aftermath”.

Horror, thrillers, suspense, whatever it is, or combination, I’m all for it! I love being scared, put on edge, and surprised. Some can’t do it, but I can applaud the attempts. Others do it just enough, and then some just nail it. For a TV series to get it right, and pretty quickly, is nothing short of miraculous! It gives me hope for the network as well as horror TV shows. Let’s hope the next series is just as captivating and unsettling as this one.

Creepy trailer, for those who don’t know.

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