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Syfy’s ‘Van Helsing’ Isn’t What You Think and That’s a Good Thing

It’s easy to look at Syfy’s new show Van Helsing and think, “Oooh, Wynonna Earp with vampires.” Who doesn’t like badass women and vampires?

Except here’s the problem with that; Van Helsing isn’t like Wynonna Earp or The Walking Dead. This isn’t a show where our vampire killing badass female lead comes roaring in to save the day. Instead, when we meet her, she’s asleep.

It’s also an ensemble show, at least for the first three episodes. Kelly Overton may be the Helsing in Van Helsing, but she’s not jumping out front and killing vampires left and right. She’s not wearing a corset and speaking in a British accent (forgive me, I’m still not over that movie). In many ways, her character is the audience, dropped into the middle of things and trying to make sense of it all.

I say this because it seems that people have concerns about the show. It got me thinking – as a sci-fi/fantasy fan, I’m always greedy for more content. Syfy has been giving me some good stuff lately – Killjoys, Wynonna Earp, The Magicians, The Expanse – but there’s still room for something new. Personally, I try to watch a few episodes of a show before making a judgement. Maybe it’s the optimist in me.

Van Helsing - Season 1 van helsing in warehouse with axe

The Van Helsing bio on IMDB doesn’t really do the show justice because it’s not entirely accurate. Or rather, it doesn’t capture the essence of the show and why it’s interesting. Its strength is in how the audience learns things and the way the story all unfolds. That’s what makes the show work. This show isn’t going to come out fast and grab you. It’s a slow burn that manages to stick in your head days later.

The people behind Van Helsing will tell you more about what to expect than anything. Writer Neil LaBute has a film and playwriting background. Heis writing is much more about the nature of humanity and shining a light into the darker places. Director and executive producer Michael Nankin has directed shows like Battlestar Galactica, Caprica, and Defiance.

Overton’s Vanessa is doing her best just to deal with life, let alone vampires. Jonathan Scarfe’s Axel Miller may come off like a snarky ass, but there’s lots more going on there, especially when it comes to Doc (the very interesting Rukiya Bernard). That’s true of many of the characters on the show; it takes a while to get to know them.

The real thing that’ll stick in your craw days later is pondering over, “what would I do?” I watched the first three episodes back to back and was interested in seeing more. I thought that was pretty much what I was going to be left with. But afterwards, I was sitting out on my balcony, and I thought about the event that starts off the vampire apocalypse and next thing you know, the thought came.

What would I do?

Let’s face it, I’d be vampire chow. I’m not even going to lie about that. Still, a strange chill goes down your back when you start to think about that sort of thing as more than just “what if?” Sure, we joke about vampire or zombie apocalypses, but real events could happen where people are forced to live or die trying.

It’s that really weird electrical ping that hits your spine that Van Helsing taps into. If it’s going where I think it’s going, that ping is going to get a lot sharper.

Give the three weeks. Maybe even let the episodes gather on your DVR and binge watch them all at once. But give the show time and see what happens. You might decide you’re not interested, but you may also get hooked.


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