TV Review: Surface, Episode # 5

When last NBC's Monday night sci-fi opus Surface aired, out-of-work marine biologist Laura Daugherty had managed with some difficulty to tag one of the elusive sea monsters with a GPS tracker. Unfortunately, now that the tag is clearly transmitting the creature's location, the shadowy government conspiracy working to keep the beasties a secret is also mining the data, thanks to the NSA's Project Echelon Satellite.

While Rich leaves his family in New Iberia, Louisiana to track the critter with Laura in Sausolito, back in Wilmington, NC, Miles' pet sea monster, Nimrod, has escaped from captivity and gotten loose in a local grocery store, Piggly Wiggly, which makes for some amusing moments.

That's pretty much what happens this week on NBC's Surface.

Except...the episode opened ominously with a teaser set in Madagascar. A little boy on the shore discovered the naked corpse of a sailor from the vanished crew of the submarine, U.S.S. Topeka. Watching this teaser, I was reminded of three things. One, the X-Files sixth season finale set on the coast of Africa. Two, Invasion, wherein nude corpses wash up with alarming regularity. And third, Threshold, wherein the crew of a lost ship plays an important role in an ongoing mystery. None of these similarities really bothered me much, since this series has been cribbing from Close Encounters, ET, The Day After Tomorrow, Godzilla and everything under the sun. I was vexed instead by the fact that the episode NEVER returned to explore this disturbing developmet. All we got was a corpse in the teaser? What happened to the body? Did anybody find it? Guess that's why they call it a teaser. Will we have to wait several weeks to see how this piece of the puzzle fits in?

Written by Jason Cahill and directed by Jeff Woolnough, this fifth installment of Surface focuses primarily on Laura's pusruit of the "unclassified marine vertebrate," which we learn can speed through the open sea at 100 knots per hour. By the end of the show, the evidence she has gathered about the creature (including video footage...) is scrapped by the creature's "pulse" (hey, what's up with EMPs and the new fall TV season? There was one on Friday's Threshold and now there's one on Monday's Surface. If there's one on Invasion this Wednesday, I just might have a fit...). Still, by episode's end, it looks like the government is going to recruit Laura; though Rich is going to jail, apparently.

My wife has tired of this show. She feels that the storyline jumps too frequently between plotlines (there are four: Rich's experiences; Laura's investigations; Miles' difficulties with Nimrod; and the government conspiracy). She argues (cogently) that not a one is really well-developed. I don't disagree, but the frequent cutting at least grants the illusion of a fast-pace and some plot development. I like Invasion very much, but boy is it slooooooow. That's the one my wife likes best. I probably do too, but I haven't run out of patience with Surface just yet. And nor has it crapped itself, like Threshold's "Pulse." You know how I feel about monster movies, and again, I argue that this series is like a monster movie every week, and I like that. Not so secretly, I'm really pulling for Surface. I won't yet make a case for it as great art, but it's the equivalent of a movie blockbuster every week, and I'm satisfied with that so far.


Comments

  1. IT'S HANGING IN THERE i THINK THE GOVERNMENT IS GOING TO RECRUIT THE KID TOO WHEN HE CAN CONTROL A GROWN UP CREATURE AND HAS THE SCIENTIFIC KNOWLEDGE OF HOW IT WAS RAISED

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  2. I agree with you, Cauwel3. Surface is "hanging in there." I'm still liking it; if not totally loving it. I wonder if you're right, if all the characters will end up "recruited" by the government.

    I have the feeling this show will get cancelled after 13 episodes. If that happens, I hope NBC will have the decency to produce and air a 2-hour wrap-up TV movie that explains everything...

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  3. YEAH THEY SIAD THAT IT WILL BE THE ONLY NEW SCI FI SHOW TO EXPLAIN EVERYTHING AT THE END OF THE SEASON. IT'S LIKE ONE LONG B MOVIE

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