Or Nah? is a feature where we watch and review the first episode of a new TV show. We’ll let you know if it’s worth checking out. As always, these reviews are the opinion of the reviewer, but we’ll try to adequately explain why you should or shouldn’t give the show a chance and provide shows for comparison.
What’s it about?
Three words to describe The Terror: stunning, bleak, tense.
AMC’s The Terror is based on a 2007 novel of the same title. The Terror tells a tale of historical fiction surrounding the voyage of two British Royal Navy ships: The HMS Terror and The HMS Erabus, both went missing in 1847. Lead by three very different men Captain Francis Crozier (Jared Harris), Sir John Franklin (Ciaran Hinds) and Captain James Fitzjames (Tobias Menzies), crews of the Terror and Erabus face their worst enemies: mother nature and desperation. The captains have been tasked with finding a shortcut through the Northwest passage. This would not be an issue if winter wasn’t fast upon them.
Level-headed Crozier suggests consolidating the ships and taking one back to Britain to wait for the spring/summer thaw. Sir Franklin is more of the no-guts-no-glory type, and since this is probably his last voyage as captain he insists on pushing on; Fitzjames agrees. One not-so-fateful night of deep freeze and both ships are left stranded in the arctic for eight months. The crew has their own issues to contend with: one man dies of what appears to be tuberculosis, but had been treated for scurvy since he arrived on the ship. Scouts are sent on a fruitless search for leads out of the narrows and a mishap during the search brings them face-to-face with what is no ordinary bear. The crew and commanders are in a no win situation with no way out, no way to reach someone back home, and little hope for survival.
I have to come clean: after my initial watch I was impressed by the visuals, but fully prepared to tell ProFans how boring The Terror is. Then I had an attitude adjustment and watched the 2-hour premiere and became more invested. This show is a slow-burn. There is action and tension present, but it is grim and you know there isn’t even a glimmer of a hope for the captains and the crew. The feel of The Terror is more cinematic than anything AMC has brought to its audience to date. It’s gorgeous and does an excellent job of portraying frigid temperatures and close quarters. The intro is modern and lovely; it is very similar to what we have seen with the Netflix Marvel shows. It features an exceptional cast. Menzies, Harris, and Hinds provide the type of performances that make you return week after week. My head cannon surrounding Menzie’s character Captain James Fitzjames is that he is a descendant of Edmure Tully, Blackjack Randall, and 2nd Great Uncle to Frank Randall; it is known. At 10 episodes, this should provide the audience with tight storytelling, which is always a plus.
All tales do not need happy endings, but there is no hope here. Not having read the book, I wonder how the show will progress in offering a chance at returning home and yanking it away ultimately ending in the demise of the crew of each ship. In what seems to be happening more and more, the second episode felt more like it should have been episode one. This would involve some non-linear storytelling but I think it would have been effective and a better introduction to the series.
The Terror offers great visuals, attention to detail in set design and costuming, and great performances. Advertised as horror, I would classify it as a drama with classic horror elements. The Terror is an enjoyable drama, which would be well-served as a Netflix original with all the episodes released at once. As a weekly series, it may face the challenge of holding the audience’s attention.
Don’t watch this if: you like tidy endings, quick pacing, and action
The Terror Premiere Review Score
The Terror | AMC | Mondays, 10pm