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It’ doesn’t happen very often when a pilot episode of a new series has exactly everything we desire in a show. This is one of the thoughts we had after watching the first episode of Guillermo Del Toro’s The StrainThe new horror series had all the critical boxes we were hoping for ticked, and then some more.

We’re huge fans of the work of Guillermo del Toro and this show is based on a series of novels that he and Chuck Hogan wrote. He also directs the opening episode, and Chuck Hogan also helped co-write it.

The Strain Ephraim

As the episode began we had the same feeling we had during Fringe Episode one: An Aircraft arriving in the U.S from Germany and suddenly the entire airplane goes dead silent. Enter investigator Dr Ephraim Goodweather played by Corey Stoll. He’s introduced to us during a custody battle for his son, having marital difficulties which saving the world from communicable diseases is a known side-effect.

From entering the airplane to the end of the episode the pace certainly does not slow, it only picks up. With episode 1, “Night Zero” is a chilling, captivating and highly entertaining hour of television. It works quickly to establish an unsettling, end-of-days vibe being quite open to introducing the villain, the enemy, the hero and some of the possible plot lines. You have to give it to Guillermo Del Toro who magnificently depicts the actual “strain” victims in pure Del Toro style. We were amazed.

With “Night Zero,” The Strain is off to a gory, extremely promising start. It has a truly epic story to tell, that much is clear, and with all the talent involved both in front of and behind the camera, The Strain seems perfectly capable of telling it. The horror is never so gross as to be off-putting, none of the characters seem leaden or dull, the direction is above and beyond anything I’ve seen from FX so far, and the foundation that the pilot lays for future episodes is resoundingly solid. Face it, any show where a giant cloaked monster can slam a dude’s head flat in one blow is all right by me.

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The Strain (2014) Season 1, Episode 1 (Screengrab)

With the risk of jumping ahead a bit, we feel The Strain is primed to do for TV vampires/zombies is nothing short of revolutionary – no fang-bangers or glowing vampires here. That there’s something so violent, primal and disgusting about how this show’s vamps drain their victims feels like a breath of fresh air – and the same can be said for The Strain as a whole. What’s so good about it can be summed up in that scene when the Master goes at one of his victims like a thirsty toddler with a juice pack – it’s gruesome, oddly enthralling and punchy enough to make viewers immediately buy into the series’ goriness and ruthless go-for-the-jugular-style scenes.

What did you think? Let us know in the comments below.