Swamp Thing: Pilot
June 2, 2019 5:18 PM - Season 1, Episode 1 - Subscribe

Giant eye-lash extension wearing Abby Arcane is working overseas for the CDC when she gets word that an unexplained disease is ripping through her hometown--a hometown she hasn't returned to in ages. While attending patients at the hospital, she encounters designer flip-flop wearing Alec Holland, shortly before he gets turfed from the premises. Eventually Abby and Alec, who is studying the plant life in the swamp, team up to find out somebody has been illegally dumping very dangerous chemicals into the swamp.
posted by sardonyx (13 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This show is going to drive me crazy with all of the easily avoidable stupidity. So far it has mostly been Abby, but I'm sure the stupid stick is going to be passed around. Off the top of my head, we've got Abby pulling off her head covering in the tent, Abby telling the medical team in the hospital that full coverage (including googles) is required before going into the quarantine rooms, yet she goes in without eye protection. I think there were a couple of other examples that struck me as I was watching the show, but they escape me at the moment.

Oh wait, I've got a non-Abby one. Alec opening up the black case while still on the boat, without taking any kind of precautions. That's pretty stupid both from a human/environmental safety perspective, but it also might have damaged/contaminated whatever was in the case.

From a comic reader perspective there are lots of little alterations to characters and situations. So far, there has been no mention of Alec's wife Linda, so there's a big change to his origin story. Matt Cable seems to be working in a different profession. Liz Tremayne is now a hometown girl (I think she was a big city gal in the comics, if memory serves). Madame Xanadu isn't as young and sexy as she is usually portrayed. And of course Abby has a whole new drunken escapade back story. Oh, and it seems she's likely going to be responsible for a dog.

I guess it's too early to start speculating if they're going to pass off John Constantine's role to another character, and if so, how that will work. I can imagine it getting especially complicated if this series lasts long enough that Swampy and Abby start thinking about having a family. Mind you, I'm all for Matt Ryan to pop up here, playing a much darker, more true-to-the-comics take on the character.

As to be expected, the horror and grotesque elements are being pushed pretty hard. I'm not much of a horror fan (that's putting it mildly) but so far it hasn't been as creepy as a couple of the Doom Patrol scenes (Beard Hunter). I'm curious to see if this can creep me out as much as the comic did. I can (There's a series of panels where people are being turned into scary black bird-like creatures that really bothered a much younger me. I think it was during the Invunche arc.)

In case anybody is curious, I had to mention Abby's lashes because they were driving me up the wall. I can't imagine having to regularly wear glasses or protective eye wear and having those giant pokey things banging against the lenses.
posted by sardonyx at 5:41 PM on June 2, 2019 [1 favorite]

I could only watch this with half an eye because I felt that they were getting the story beats terribly wrong. I was cringing too much. I'll probably watch a couple more, but the foundation is all wrong. Alec doesn't need to fight off some weird plant version of "The Thing". He doesn't need to change into Swamp Thing instantly and then jump up all "Raaaaawr!" Abby doesn't need to work for the CDC. So much nope right at the story level.

And that swamp looks as big as a studio backlot.
posted by Catblack at 9:39 PM on June 2, 2019

Sounds like this is skippable. I am not about to subscribe to DC Universe, since I can get access to the Berlantiverse shows through Netflix, and it doesn't seem to be worth getting through, ahem, other means. If they're leaning heavily on the Alan Moore era of SW, that's actually a point against this, as moving media in general and DC/Warner in particular have an abysmal track record with adaptations of Moore's works, occasional minor exceptions (such as Supergirl doing a one-episode adaptation of "For the Man Who Has Everything") notwithstanding. Maybe it's best if they don't bring in Constantine.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:24 AM on June 3, 2019 [2 favorites]

Actually, given the way the story was playing out, I wasn't expecting them to turn Alec so quickly. I really thought they were going to give us two or three episodes of Alec and Abby getting to know each other better, and building the foundation for a relationship.

Mind you, it seems (based on reports) that the production was troubled and the shooting time was shortened so that could have something to do with the pacing problems.
posted by sardonyx at 6:25 AM on June 3, 2019

I definitely understand why Abby is in all the advertising, and jorts-and-sandals Alec...no. I thought some of the Thing-inspired effects were just great, but I admit I zoned out through parts of the story (I was talking to someone on OKC, full disclosure). The promising parts are promising enough to bring me back, and no Alec may be a bonus.

I totally recommend DC Universe, tho. The comics library has swiftly become huge. If you like Marvel Unlimited, this is close, or getting close. And of course Doom Patrol is just a preposterously good show.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:24 PM on June 3, 2019 [2 favorites]

I kind of thought they were trying for a Bruce Banner/Mark Ruffalo kind of vibe with Alec, which isn't the direction I would have taken the character, but I'm not in charge so what do I know?

I meant to include this with the original post. Oh well, better late than never: AV Club.

Good luck with your OKC encounter, kittens for breakfast. You'll have to let us know if you've found another DC TV fan. (Seriously, hope it works out for you.)
posted by sardonyx at 7:59 PM on June 3, 2019 [2 favorites]

Ha ha, oh, it won't. I'll be back here watching Swamp Thing this Friday night. Till then, true believer!!
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:16 AM on June 4, 2019

Sorry to hear about the OKC thing, but still glad to have you around, kittens for breakfast.

I did eventually catch this, but do not have any new or novel observations. I also noted Abby's lax approach to personal safety with dismay, but that's about it. I haven't read the comics yet, and so am not conversant in the surrounding lore very much. I am probably sticking around awhile anyway because I'm interested in the horror vibe and whether or not this connects to the larger DCEU.

I am not about to subscribe to DC Universe, since I can get access to the Berlantiverse shows through Netflix, and it doesn't seem to be worth getting through, ahem, other means.

No bets about Swamp Thing, but I must second the recommendation to check out Doom Patrol at the very least. It was indeed absolutely amazing. (Pilot's a little shaky IMO, but I loved it without reservation by ep 3.)
posted by mordax at 8:41 AM on June 5, 2019 [2 favorites]

Ditto on the OKC thing. Here I was hoping to live vicariously through somebody else's successful love life.
posted by sardonyx at 9:51 AM on June 5, 2019 [2 favorites]

Well, this show certainly died a quick death.
posted by sardonyx at 8:53 AM on June 6, 2019

The cancellation might have been due to North Carolina screwing up.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 2:05 PM on June 6, 2019 [1 favorite]

The funding rumor has been disputed, with North Carolina reps saying the standard subsidy is twelve million, and Swamp Thing getting thirteen. If NC offered 13 and DC expected 30 million, that would seem to be part for the course.
posted by happyroach at 3:56 PM on June 6, 2019 [1 favorite]

This is a message for anybody coming to the show and wondering if it's worth watching and worth sticking with over the course of the series: the answer is yes.

Having watched until the end, I can say despite my gripes above, the overall show was entertaining. It wasn't perfect and some of the issues I originally posted about earlier in the thread still persist, but they can be overlooked and some of them are eventually pointed out in the show itself, which is satisfying.

There are some really strong elements, and for anybody who knows the source material, the part where Alec comes to terms with his new reality is very well done.

Pretty much all of the major and minor characters have a role to play, and some take on depths that aren't evident at the beginning. There are, however a couple of very strange characterizations of well known DC mystical regulars. These aren't ideal, but if you can divorce your comic expectations from what's delivered, they're not terrible.

Overall, the show just keeps throwing more and more and more into the hopper until it begins feeling like a soap opera with interconnected story lines. (Note: that is not a criticism, but a compliment.)

It's a shame this got such a quick cancellation and a truncated season. It had the potential to become more than it is.
posted by sardonyx at 3:49 PM on August 4, 2019

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