Tremors: The Series
Cast: Michael Gross, Victor Browne, Lela Lee, Marcia Strassman, Gladys Jimenez
Creators: Brent Maddock, Nancy Roberts, S.S. Wilson
Transmission season: March - August 2003
Sci-Fi Channel Original Series, 13 episodes, 42 mins.
Plot: The resident of Perfection Valley learn to co-exist with El Blanco, the last living graboid in the area, but that's easier said than done.
If you're reading this particular post, I'm wagering that you are a fan or have at least seen the original Tremors, co-starring The Kevin Bacon. Y'know, that sorta low budget movie set in a little valley called Perfection where there's these soil-digging monsters dubbed "Graboids" that can't see but hunt and eat by using sound waves. Anyhow, that one movie was popular enough that two sequels and one prequel followed, with a third sequel on on the way. In the midst of making the fourth movie (The Legend Begins, a direct-to-DVD affair), the Sci-Fi Channel commissioned a thirteen-episode TV series based on the much-loved monster saga. Well, by all means that sounds dandy. I was pumped and super-excited, and then I sorta forgot about it. Besides, reviews and ratings were down the toilet, the show was gonna inevitably be canceled, and then the eventual DVD release would allow me to see it. Great plan with near brilliant accuracy, but turns out the DVD didn't get released until very much with the recently. Like, 2009 recently. I thought perhaps a blind buy was in order, considering I LOVE the movies, but decided not to because of the price tag at the time. So I patiently waited until I could rent the complete series from the library, and...
...thank God I didn't actually spend money on this piece of junk. Now I am a faithful lover of Tremors and all things campy bad, but Tremors: The Series is simply bad. There are three good avenues of the show, but the rest of it is just excruciating. The series pilot is about the worst set-up for any show I've ever seen. By the conclusion of those agonizing forty-three minutes, it was a struggle to even consider watching the next episode. I doubt there was a solid two minutes that went by without some tongue-in-cheek, porno-esque music to accompany a scene, even unnecessarily. The visual effects were absolutely horrendus, and do not improve as the show goes on. The characters, with the exception of Burt, were pale imitations of one-dimensional place-mats. And the dialogue - ugh, so annoying it's hardly worth mentioning. I sucked it up, though, watched the rest of the disc, and the majority of the second, and then caved. I took the disc out, put in the third and final, and decided to watch the series finale. And lo and behold, didn't really miss a thing. And also lo and behold, the show was still bad, bad, bad, super bad.
Going in, I didn't expect a lavish budget. Hell, I didn't really expect a show that would make my 'Must-Watch' list. What I did expect was a show that stayed true to the tone and style of the films, and was whole-fully enjoyable. In some respects, the show did stay truthful to the original movies, but not enough. Instead of actually being fun, the funness aspect felt forced at every instance, same with the dialogue, jokes, and storylines. It just didn't work, it didn't click. And mind you I have no joy in writing this. Our main cast of characters (outside of Burt) are Tyler, Rosalita, Nancy, and Jodi. There's not a single one of them who has a distinctly interesting personality, and I wouldn't have minded in the least if they were all viciously murdered by El Blanco the Graboid in the series premiere and were cursed to reside in Perfection Valley as ghosts for the duration of the series. It would have at least made them resembling something like a one-dimensional character with the promise of maybe a two-dimensional one. And with the limited budget, the visual effects are, to be expected, not in the realm of good. However, there is a pretty cool hybrid creature in the fourth or fifth episode that, with a bigger budget, would definitely be in the super frightening category.
Aspects that do work, though, are as following: it should come to no surprise that Burt Gummer is as awesome as one would expect. Although his dialogue does occasionally suffer from the same forced feeling as the other characters, Gummer is still the sole reason I kept on watching. With four movies under his belt, Michael Gross knows this character inside and out, and it was probably a super easy, but really fun paycheck for the series. Recurring guest star Christopher Lloyd (yep, Back to the Future Christopher Lloyd) portrays a crazy scientist who has ties to the show's other interesting aspect: a storyline involving probable government experiments in the Perfection Valley years ago, resulting in mutations and other scientific nightmare freaks. Llyod's character comes up whenever exposition or a resolution is required. But I can deal, Lloyd's having fun, thus I'm having fun.
Even for fans of the movies, I wouldn't recommend Tremors: The Series. I wouldn't recommend a blind buy, a rental, or a free watch on YouTube or Hulu. But then again, the series just may be one of those programs that create two camps - not three, but two: the lovers and the haters. There will be those who completely love the super camp and low, low, low budgetness of it and find the frighteningly wooden characters endearing and thus rank the program high, and there's those (like me) who just fine this abysmal. A fifth Tremors movie has been announced to air on the SyFy Channel, and here's hoping the movie is at least 'good'; it just might bottle down my disappointment with this series.