The Passage, a new series on Fox based on the novel of the same name by Justin Cronin, is well-done though problematic, if the first episode is any indicator.
Saniyya Sidney, Mark Paul Gosselaar (barely recognizable from his Saved By The Bell days) and Henry Ian Cusick (who could literally play the ‘concerned scientist’ role in his sleep) are the three principal cast members, and all do well with the material.
Unfortunately, the material–at least as adapted–is the problem.
The first episode feels rushed and unveils too much too soon, with the predictable side effect of making it seem as if you know exactly where things are going.
Now, I understand that when adapting a novel for television or movies compromises have to be made, though the thing is, typically less have to be made for television story-wise because instead of having and hour or two you have anywhere from 10 to 13 (the typical length of a season of a television show in the United States) to lay out what’s going to happen, while also laying he groundwork for a second season.
Which is why the first episode of The Passage felt so rushed; it felt as if the writers were so desperate to make what I hear is a somewhat dense novel less so for television that they not only simplified it, but hired a semaphore to lay out major plot points in advance.
Which is a pity because a series of this nature requires not only atmosphere, but an investment in the characters, which is hard to do when you’re working with a Cliff’s Notes version of a story.