Sunday, July 5, 2015

Pilot Review: Zoo

Zoo (CBS)
Premiered June 30 at 9pm

Actor James Wolk should be familiar to many for his starring role in one of the most acclaimed dramas to be cancelled incredibly quickly, FOX’s “Lone Star,” which found his character leading two family lives simultaneously and got taken off the air before even making it to a third episode. After a successful recurring stint on “Mad Men” and a role in the short-lived “The Crazy Ones,” Wolk is back on television in an offering that feels equally ambitious and unappealing. Animals evolving to a degree where they have intelligence that overpowers humans and enables them to realize that they have been oppressed and should fight back sounds like the premise of a relatively low-rent horror movie, but in fact it’s the setup for this summer series. I watched “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” last year and didn’t find it terribly worthwhile, but it was considerably smarter than this show, which opts for regrettable dialogue and such things as investigative journalism and humanitarian efforts as framings for its plot. Wolk is wasted here, and the standout member of the cast, in a negative way, is Billy Burke, who previously unenthusiastically jousted with swords on repeated occasions on “Revolution” and now stars as a humor-prone medical examiner who doesn’t like being referred to as a coroner. It’s impossible to take this show seriously, but it’s also not nearly entertaining enough to earn the badge of honor of being so bad it’s good. Boredom and animals are equally vicious threats on this show.

How will it work as a series? They found the cats at the end of the first hour, so at least someone has a clue that there’s something worrisome going on other than just a few isolated incidents of animals doing unusual and disconcerting things. Jumping between the United States and Botswana should prove either disorienting or exhausting, and I can’t imagine it will be productive or effective.
How long will it last? The ratings weren’t great, even compared to other recent summer successes on CBS and other networks. My prediction is that this show will air out its original order this summer and then fade into oblivion.

Pilot grade: F

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