Man, when MTV wants to push a show, they push it hard. They wallpapered the internet with ads for the Scream TV series, promising a plethora of blood and terror for all daring enough to watch. But how does the plot measure up against this promise?
First, let’s look at the characters:
Early in the episode, our resident slasher movie expert Noah makes the following point: “You can’t do a slasher movie as a TV series. Think about it. Girl and her friend arrive at the dance, the camp, deserted town, whatever. Killer takes them out one-by-one. Ninety minutes later, the sun comes up and survivor girl sits in the ambulance watching her friends’ bodies being wheeled past. Slasher movies burn bright and fast—TV needs to stretch things out.” I fear that Noah is correct in his awkward meta explanation; so far Scream is having a bunch of execution, pacing, and plot issues.
Nina’s untimely demise brings to mind the last scary happening in the town of Lakewood. Brandon James, sufferer of Proteus Syndrome and the town’s resident Boo Radley, is the main focus of the town’s urban legend. He was a recluse who fell in love with a girl named Daisy (i.e., Emma’s mother) at a Halloween dance. When his face was revealed, he was jumped by a bunch of jocks. He snapped, killing several students before Daisy agreed to meet him on the docks. He gave her a heart pendant and explained that he loved her, only to be shot off the dock and into the lake.
A package is delivered to the Duvalls’ for Daisy—Maggie opens it to reveal a bloody heart with a note that says, “Emma looks just like you at that age.” She smartly calls the sheriff immediately and explains that she is the girl in the town’s urban legend—Daisy was a family nickname. Note from this scene: Emma’s father worked hard to cope post-Brandon James, but couldn’t deal, so he ended up leaving the family.
“Maybe we should be scared. Bunch of teenagers drinking by the lake where their homegrown killer died. Natural slasher setting,” Loner Boy Kieran says at Brooke’s vigil party. In another room, Brooke alludes to a Nina/Will hookup in front of Emma, creating trouble in paradise for the most boring couple I’ve ever seen. Thankfully. His sleeping with Nina during a break causes enough drama that Emma ends up hooking up with Kieran after she laments her tendency to see the best in people.
In the living room, Noah falls asleep, making him the perfect prey for a prank. Other party guests send his sleeping body out into the middle of the lake on a piece of the dock. When he tries to swim to shore, something almost drowns him. Kieran comes to his rescue, while Audrey throws shade at Emma for having shitty friends.
Audrey is furious when she realizes that Emma’s friends were involved with the video and that their friendship rekindling has been out of guilt. When Emma leaves Audrey’s crying, she receives our first phantom phone call of the series! “Why are you crying? I hate to see you so sad,” (presumably) our masked murderer says. He gives us his motive early, explaining that he wants to pull up the masks on their perfect social media lives, which recalls the motive of the killer on Eye Candy. Thank you, masked murderer, for being so blunt about your purpose. The episode closes with one last commentary from Noah: “Everyone has secrets. Everyone tells lies. And everyone is fair game.” Dun dun dunnnn.
All and all, not the worst piece of television I’ve seen before. I’d argue that Scream is closer in spirit to shows like MTV’s recently-canceled Eye Candy and ABC Family’s Pretty Little Liars than its actual source material. Most of my issue with the pilot comes from execution; ostensibly, they took what was best about Scream and tried to clumsily bend it to the confines of a television show. The opening scene felt rushed, which is ridiculous because they have so much more time than a movie does to tell their story. The tension didn’t have any time to build, and without tension there’s no real fear to be found. Noah’s meta commentary feels forced and in your face rather than natural dialogue like Randy’s did in the first three Scream films. Marketing-wise, connecting it to Wes Craven’s infamous franchise was a great move—however, drawing any comparisons between the two beyond the name will only hurt the show. I’m hoping that some of these problems are ironed out in the next few episodes and that the show is able to come into its own.
Best line: “Sage is a trained attack Pomeranian who will gut you on command.”–Nina, before her untimely death.
Killer Calls Per Episode: 1.
Body Count Per Episode: 2.
Cumulative Body Count: 2.
Episode Rating: 5/10.