The ZONE genre worldwide books movies
the science fiction
fantasy horror &
mystery website
 
 
home  articles  profiles  interviews  essays  books  movies  competitions  guidelines  issues  links  archives  contributors  email

Surface: The Complete Series (2005)
Creators: Jonas Pate and Josh Pate

review by Alasdair Stuart

One of the several Lost clones that never survived beyond its first year (Threshold and Invasion being the others), Surface is a fascinating idea ultimately hobbled by how the story was told. At the time, networks were so fixated on apeing Lost's 'give a little, take a little more' approach to narrative that the format became more important than the story and all three series paid the price. It's a shame because all three series had potential, as can be seen in this collection.

Surface follows four separate views of the same phenomena: a new species being discovered in the Earth's oceans. Laura Daughtery (Lake Bell) is an oceanographer who is attacked by the creatures on the ocean floor, Richard Connelly (Ray R. Ferguson) sees his brother dragged off by one of the creatures during a diving accident and Miles Barnett (Carter Jenkins) is a teenager who discovers an unusual egg which hatches into a 'pup' of one of the creatures. Meanwhile, Doctor Aleksandr Cirko (Rade Serbedzija) heads the secret research organisation trying to find out what the creatures are, where they come from and exactly what they're capable of. As the four begin their searches, bizarre phenomena sweep the world. Lakes run dry, ships disappear and strange carcasses begin washing up on the world's beaches...

On paper it looks like a great idea and by and large it is. Bell, Ferguson and Janekins all do great work with their characters and the scriptwriters are to be applauded for making all three of them, especially the wonderfully grumpy, driven Daughtery, considerably more complicated than the standard TV show character. The only subplot with the potential to drag - namely Miles and his 'dragon' - is helped immeasurably by Jenkins, and Leighton Meester as his older sister. The pieces are all in play, all the plots are at least interesting and the series looks set to be going somewhere.

Except, it doesn't, with the first third of the season doing little more than treading water. Daughtery is continually frustrated in her attempts to find out more, Rich becomes ever more convinced that the creatures are something holy, something other and Miles just manages to stop Nimrod being detected yet again. Many US TV shows have been justifiably criticised for pushing the 'reset' button at the end of every episode and Surface is no exception. Even Cirko's plotline becomes dull after a while as the scientists find yet another amazing property the creatures have and... do nothing about it. To make matters worse, when the creatures begin to affect the global climate and Cirko and his team are the only scientists to notice then credibility is stretched past breaking point. In short, less than halfway into the season, things fall apart and do so in a fairly serious way.

Which is a real shame because around the halfway mark the show picks back up again pretty dramatically. Daughtery and Rich set out on an insanely dangerous plan to get proof, Miles' cover is blown and the consequences nearly tear his family apart and the research project takes a genuinely dark and surprising turn. Each episode ups the stakes more and more until, in the final three, we, and the characters find out exactly what the creatures are. The pay off is more than worth it, and some of the scenes along the way are superb, including a cameo from Martha Plimpton as a character who literally seems to have wandered in from a different series. Even the ending, whilst open ended to accommodate a potential second season, is genuinely brave and would have made a fascinating basis for future episodes.

Ultimately, Surface is harder work than it should be. The basic premise is fascinating, the characters are grounded and normal and the eventual payoff is one any fans of John Wyndham will enjoy. Wade through the shallows of the early episodes and out into the depths of the actual story. It's a tough dive, but it's worth it.
Surface on DVD

Daughtery takes a dive

Dr Cirko presents evidence

Please support this
website - buy stuff
using these links:
Amazon.co.uk
Amazon.com
Send it DVDs
W.H. Smith
Movie Posters

home  articles  profiles  interviews  essays  books  movies  competitions  guidelines  issues  links  archives  contributors  email
copyright © 2001 - 2007 Pigasus Press