I’m watching Surface, and seeing hints of different
kinds of sea monsters appearing in three different story arcs
(at least), and some cameos. There are really big ones, dolphin-sized
ones, and a little one that a tow-headed kid keeps in an ice
chest. And all I could think of is. . . .
. . . man, I’m hungry. I’d like to fry up one of
those bastards then dip 'em in tartar sauce.
The show is by Josh and Jonas Pate, who have earned my loyalty
from their 1970s-style super-cool and super-cancelled G
vs. E. But there are no afros here. They’d get all wet.
Surface is a season-long monster movie. So far in the
season, it’s still in the first monster-movie 15 minutes. Innocents
get eaten, the heroes gather, and everyone wonders what’s going
(I must note the pedigree of Surface director Felix
Enriquez Alcala. He directed the 1997 live-action Justice
League of America pilot. This guy needs to be shown some
Surface is the only one of the recent batch of sci-fi
series to fully embrace its sci-fi premise. There is no sense
that everything we know is wrong, like on Lost. And
we get to see the beasties right away. Maybe not in full view
all at once, plotting our doom from their secret undersea lair.
But the quick glimpses are close enough for now.
The heroes aren’t all super-tough and capable. They’re not
100 percent likeable. They are usually the types that get killed
or kidnapped, but here they’re the stars. There’s the female
oceanographer who has a douchebag ex-husband who looks like
Kip from Napoleon Dynamite. Her young son has to stay
with Kip, Mom gets to go to the bottom of the ocean and almost
get killed by a glowing dolphin or something.
Meanwhile, a damn jackass takes his brother diving off an
oil rig — for fun! What’s fun about that? Obviously that
guy never listened when his mom told him not to let his little
brother get eaten by a sea monster, because he sure did it.
Of course he’s all angsty over it, so much that he leaves his
wife and babies at home to go find some answers. In another
episode he returns after meeting the oceanographer chick —
but he neglected to tell his wife she was a she. “I drove for
hours and was gone for days and I hung out with a hot chick.
What’s for supper?”
The third arc involves a normal kid in a hoity-toity rich
family. The kid finds a sea monster egg, it hatches, and he
keeps it. Hijinks ensue with the lizard thing causing a ruckus
at his sister’s sexy pool party. But the kid, of course, takes
a shine to the little fella. I’m sure his big mean cousins will
come after him soon. It’s Sigmund and the Sea Monsters 2005.
“Ya gotta have friends! All ya need are friends! Friends won’t
let ya down! Ya gotta have. . . .” Ahem. Sorry.
At least once an episode, there’s a short, note-perfect monster-movie
scene where someone’s about to get eaten. It’s the most fun
on every episode of the show. These have everything: the drunks
on the boat, or the lighthouse captain who hears a strange noise.
The music is of the same ilk as Jaws, with the slow
build. The sound effects are wonderful, with the low rumble
of something huge slicing through the water, to the Godzilla-style
roar of monsters going to work. What we do see of the monsters
is quick shots that cut early before your brain registers what
you saw, like a bunch of Sigmunds swimming in a river of lava,
or a boat becoming lunch for some big fishie. That’s good stuff.
It’s not easily laid out how the humans are going to win this
one. There is no infrastructure to help them do anything. None
of our heroes have jobs where they kill monsters. The oceanographer’s
boss at first said, “So . . . let’s just say you saw
a sea monster.” That was quick! But then he clammed up (sorry
— fish reference.)
But really — must every underwater expert have a Jacques
Cousteau accent? Even the real Jacques Cousteau was probably
tired of his accent.
Now, the science leaves a ton to be desired. Animals are called
mammals, but then they lay eggs. The story tries to pile on
more science mumbo-jumbo than is needed. And then they go and
get in the humans’ lives and crap. I so don’t care about that.
Show me some sea monsters, then have people running a lot. Easy.
I don’t know where the story is going, and that’s a novel feeling.
I doubt it’ll come down to the three stars toting harpoon guns
yelling, “Chew on this, you big wet bastards!” But there’s always