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TV Review: Scream The Series, Season 1, Episode 1

PLOT: After a salacious Youtube video goes viral, a popular high-school girl and her boyfriend are gorily murdered. This reawakens the deeply haunted past of the town of Lakewood, as a similar rash of grisly killings plagued the suburban community some 20 years prior.

REVIEW: Almost 20 years after Wes Craven's slasher film reinvention bludgeoned the public, MTV's new Scream franchise wisely pokes, prods and pulls all the best elements from the film series and weaves them together to create a pretty entertaining pop-pulp pastiche for a new generation. It's fun, campy, sexy, bloody, self-reflexive - and with television becoming the newest bastion for long-form horror fiction - Scream looks to confidently challenge viewers with a 10-week slasher whodunit that's bound to keep us all guessing who the killer culprit(s) might be. With tech-savvy shades of HEATHERS, MEAN GIRLS, all four SCREAM feature films and even MTV's recent all-internet thriller UNFRIENDED, Scream promises to be a delightfully deleterious summertime slasher-bash. I'm in!

As we've come to expect with the entire SCREAM franchise, the opening sequence is of paramount import. Nothing changes here. We open with a titillating girl-on-girl smooch-fest video that not only goes viral, but turns alt-girl Audrey (Bex Taylor-Klaus) into the laughing stock at school. As we know, bullying is a bitch. Then, after serving some blue-balls to her jockey boy-toy Tyler, mean-girl hottie Nina slaps on the bikini and heads for a nighttime Jacuzzi dip. One problem, she isn't alone for long. I won't give exact details about her fate, but suffice it to say a masked psychopath turns up and begins making Nina's life and everyone around hers a living hell. I suppose now is the time to note that the iconic ghost-face mask we all know and identify SCREAM with, has been scrapped for a new design altogether. Similar, but not quite the same. Ditto can be said for the killer's vocal-tone, which had been consistent throughout the films. Not so here. This is likely due to Kevin Williamson and Wes Craven having nothing to do with the series, but to my mind, it's no real deal breaker, particularly since the pilot does so many other things well.

We soon meet Audrey's old bestie, Emma (Willa Fitzgerald), the show's likely final girl. Not only does Emma feel horribly for letting her friends film and post the video of Audrey, it turns out that her mother Maggie, the town coroner, was a Sydney Prescott type of victim 20 years ago. A deranged madman named Brandon James stalked her and almost brutally ended her life. Now, it seems a copycat murderer is back in the quaint town of Lakewood. Questions are: who is it, why are they back and what do they want with Emma? Answers are sure to come in the next 10 weeks. In the meantime, meet the crew: Audrey's film-geek buddie Noah (like Randy in the films), Jake; the Matt Dillon lookalike jock, Will; Emma's shady boyfriend, Brooke; the token big-boobed blond, Reily; the cute Asian girl and new to town Kieran; a mysterious cool guy cut from Christian Slater's cloth in HEATHERS. In fact, the whole Emma-Audrey reconnection reminded me too of Veronica and Betty Finn in the classic dark high-school comedy.

The best part of Scream is just how knowing of itself it is. Remember how Randy used to break down all the tropes and tenets of slasher films, offering laws and rules as to how to survive? Well, here the idea is appropriated for TV. Noah (John Karna) explains early on how a slasher TV series would never work because of the nature of their premises. Slasher films burn bright and fast, he says, while TV is more deliberate and drawn out. He's right. So, as a wonderful way to kneecap that kind of criticism as the show moves forward, it's addressed immediately. And even more integral to the show's success, almost everybody is instantly setup as a potential suspect. And not just the way they look, but how they behave. Dastardly motives are established early on which makes credible the potential for guilt. That's one of my favorite things about the SCREAM franchise, how you can never trust anyone...how on guard you constantly must remain in order to solve the larger whodunit aspect of the story. That, the show nails!

All in all, the pilot episode of Scream hit just the right franchise notes to draw viewers in. It starts with a gory grabber, introduces an array of likeable and loathsome characters, inspires a copycat serial killer through its related back-story, and credibly casts shadows of doubt over all involved. Additionally, the rekindled relationship between Audrey and Emma is sure to serve as the emotional core of the show, with the self-reflexive nature of slasher film dos-and-don'ts providing extra fun. I dug it. Also, for a younger skewing channel like MTV, there was actually more blood than I expected to see. Let's hope that's a horrific harbinger of the next two months to come!

Extra Tidbit: How did you like the Scream pilot?
Source: AITH

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