TV Review – Black Summer: Season One

TL;DR – There are moments of real tension but in the end, it fell a bit flat.

Score – 3 out of 5 stars

Black Summer: Season One. Image Credit; Netflix.

Review

Zombies are a concept that and yes I am going to go there, has been done to death. There have been so many different permeations of the living dead and the impact that they would have on the world it is hard to come into this space and have anything new to say. Well, today we take a look at a show that is trying to find some new space, even if it does not always succeed.

So to set the scene, it has been a couple of weeks since the first infection and society is in the state of collapse. There is still hope that the government can contain the spread of the zombies as fighter jets fly overhead and the military is still working on evacuations. We meet Rose (Jaime King) as she is trying to get her family to the evacuation point so they can be taken to the stadium and airlifted out to safety. Well, all of that falls apart as the soldiers discovered her husband’s wounds and drive off with their daughter leaving them behind. All the commotion draws the zombies from nearby and soon those who are left like Kyungson (Christine Lee), Lance (Kelsey Flower), and Ryan (Mustafa Alabssi) have to flee as chaos breaks out. Broken into groups everyone tries to make it to the safety of the stadium. Now from here, we will be looking at the season as a whole, so there will be some [SPOILERS] ahead.

Black Summer: Season One. Image Credit; Netflix.
Be prepared for a lot of ‘Hard Choices’ throughout the show. Image Credit; Netflix.

I didn’t know what to expect when I sat down to watch this as this is my first ever time exploring one of The Asylum’s works. To be honest, there is this reputation of schlocky action and bare-bones production but what I found here was completely different. A lot of work has gone into making this feel like civilization in the process of collapse. As well as this, there is real attention to detail in making these real moments of tension. The show really likes using long takes (some real, some creatively edited) that sucks you into the moment. This was used really successfully in a sequence where a zombie was on the roof of a car and the camera sat inside spinning around as it climbed from one side to the next.

The other thing that you see quite quickly is the framing device that the show uses to propel the episodes forward. In-between the different scenes they have a title card for the next one. This was really helpful in the first episode because it helped to reinforce the names of most of the main cast so you could work out who was who. As the show went on, however, it was clear that there was a point where they stopped being useful and actually started to detract from the show, like dropping an anchor into the story.

Black Summer: Season One. Image Credit; Netflix.
There is a core to this show, a mother desperately trying to find her daughter that pulls you along even when thing are not quite coming together. Image Credit; Netflix.

Throughout the show, there were a couple of moments that really stood out to me. Like the school of horrors where kids had taken over and started re-enacting Lord of the Flies on anyone who comes in. There was a whole episode where poor Lance spent running for his life from one disaster to the next. Or the Survivor-like debate as to who was going to be sacrificed to the Zombies so the rest could leave, with the power shifting throughout the discussion. To add to this Black Summer shows you how easy it is to have a diverse and compelling cast and frankly at this point there isn’t any real excuse for shows not to.

While all of this was really interesting, unfortunately as the series went on there was a feeling that 1) The Stadium was not going to be the holy grail that the characters wanted it to be, which is fine, but that 2) this was all the show had going for it. Which is the point where you start to see some of the seams in the show begin to appear. For example, how long it takes for someone to turn, or what it takes to kill a zombie changes from situation to situation. This lack of consistency is frustrating but it the narrative shortcuts that really let the showdown. Like how did they all know where to go and what to do in the heist, or why there was suddenly a bunch of other people there for the big set-piece final battle. All of this, unfortunately, takes the wind out of the sails of the show that had been really interesting up until that point.

Black Summer: Season One. Image Credit; Netflix.
There are a number of real stand out moments from the show that make it engaging right from the start. Image Credit; Netflix.

In the end, do we recommend Black Summer? Maybe. There are some moments that really make the show stand out, however, it does not feel like it had the legs to make it to the end. If you are a fan of Zombies then I think some of the inconsistencies will really bug you, even though there are some moments that make it worth a watch. Unfortunately, I think the flat ending will make this a pass for a lot of people and I completely understand that.                         

By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.

Have you seen Black Summer yet ?, let us know what you thought in the comments below, feel free to share this review on any of the social medias and you can follow us Here. Check out all our past reviews and articles Here, and have a happy day.    


Credits –
All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Black Summer
Directed by
– John Hyams & Abram Cox
Written by – Delondra Williams, Abram Cox, John Hyams, Daniel Schaefer & Karl Schaefer
Created by – Karl Schaefer & John Hyams
Production/Distribution Companies – The Asylum & Netflix
Starring – Jaime King, Justin Chu Cary, Kelsey Flower, Gwynyth Walsh, Christine Lee, Mustafa Alabssi, Erika Hau, Sal Velez, Jr., Edsson Morales, Aidan Fink & Kash Hill         

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1 thought on “TV Review – Black Summer: Season One

  1. I enjoyed Black Summer but can someone explain why Netflix placed graphics for the last episode that completely spoils the ending. Without wishing to give anything away, try to watch episode 8 without seeing any of the graphic placements which completely defeat a huge element of the suspense of the show.

    Liked by 1 person

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