My wife wanted to take a look at this series, having known the story and wanting to see how it translated to television. It had already gotten a comic adaptation which has nothing whatsoever to do with this series, but hey, we love animals, might as well take a look, right?
Um… not so much. So let’s go right down the rabbit hole, even if the rabbit wants to kill you, and see how CBS’ 13-episode first season of Zoo came out.
When animals worldwide start attacking humans, Jackson Oz and his friend Abraham start looking into it. Jackson’s father, a crazy zoologist with unorthodox beliefs, had suggested this might happen and they quickly find themselves as part of a team, headed by a former French secret service agent, trying to find an antidote before the human race gets wiped out.
Seriously, the only two things that this series has in common with the book by James Patterson is the name of some of the main characters and the fact that it has something to do with animals. That’s about it. This has been a common problem with a lot of shows this year, it was an issue with Wayward Pines, it was an issue with The Strain, but this one takes the cake.
Now who the hell wrote this thing and why are they hiring 5-year olds to write their scripts? Clearly they didn’t graduate high school because their understanding of biology is laughable. Okay, I can maybe get behind widespread genetic evolution to make these animals “defiant”, but no mutation anywhere is going to make male rats give birth and they’re not going to turn female rats into the queen from Aliens. It’s just not! Also, by the time you get to the end of the season, they’re talking about a vaccine for the mutation. You can’t vaccinate against a mutation! You vaccinate against a disease! A mutation is a direct change in the gene frequency, that’s not something you can fix with a vaccination! Who the hell wrote this thing?
The characters all sucked. Probably my favorite was Abraham because he was soft-spoken and not the loud-mouthed asshat that most of the rest were. Jackson sucked. Chloe sucked. Mitch sucked. Jamie sucked. I couldn’t stand any of them, I wanted the animals to eat them all, although I was more worried about the indigestion of the animals if they did. None of these characters made me respect humanity one bit.
The other problem is, they dropped so many plotlines through the season, things that were built up to be important and then, just gone, that I really didn’t much care about anything that happened. Remember Evan Lee Hartley? Remember the crazy guy who gave them the Mother Cell? Remember Clementine’s dog? What happened to Clementine at all? Lots of dangling threads that the writers just forgot about, why am I supposed to think that anything going on won’t suffer the same fate?
So we finally get to the last episode and it has a ridiculous number of problems. They jump 3 months into the future and everyone assumes Jamie is dead but instead, she was injured and trapped on an island somewhere with a guy who doesn’t speak English. She keeps begging him for a phone and finally he gives her one, but if he had it all along, why didn’t he use it to call a doctor and get her airlifted off the island? Mitch is despondent over losing Jamie so he drowns himself in a bottle in a random bar. Why? He’s been one of the driving forces behind getting the cure. Then he loses someone and screw humanity! The whole bit with Reiden Global pushing to kill all animals and clone new ones? Yeah, right, I suppose it’s less ridiculous than some of the other things this show has done.
In the end, I had no idea why they even bothered calling this Zoo. It wasn’t a televised adaptation of the book, it went completely off the rails from the very first episode, the story it told wasn’t on the same continent as the book, what was the point? I’m going to do a review of the Zoo graphic novel in a couple of days and will go into more detail on the differences between that and the series, but honestly, this is not Zoo. It wasn’t particularly good. That’s a problem. If, by some miracle, this thing gets a second season, I don’t know that I can suspend my disbelief again in order to get into it. Some things just break instead of bending and this was one of them.