Almost a year after it was first announced at the 2015 Upfronts, The CW’s Containment premieres tonight (April 19) at 9PM on the network, preceded by a new episode of The Flash. The series is an adaptation of the Belgian series Cordon and it comes from Vampire Diaries and Originals Executive Producer Julie Plec… but there are no vampires present in this one!
The CW made the first seven episodes available to press early, and the last time I remember getting that much in advance, it was when they introduced us to The 100. As a reviewer and a critic, it allows for a better chance to get to know the show and the characters; it also gives us a good idea on how the show builds. It also is a sign that the network believes in the project and hopes that audiences will tune in.
What was my personal response?
I really liked it.
Containment is addictive in a way a binge-worthy Netflix show would be. Being The CW, there are pretty people, but that’s not really what the show is about; the show has a much more serious subject matter: a virus outbreak that causes a good portion of downtown Atlanta to be cordoned off. Families are split apart and everyone fears more illness. TVD’s Chris Wood plays Jake who at first glance is your typical CW “bro,” but as the season goes on, you’ll see there’s a lot more to him than that. I admit, beyond Wood and Claudia Black, who plays the by-the-book Dr. Sabine Lommers, I was unfamiliar with many of the actors in this cast, and it made me like it even more, because I didn’t get a lot of preconceived notions. David Gyasi, in particular, cuts an authoritative but conflicted figure as Major Lex Carnahan; his significant other Jana (Christina Moses) is a character to keep an eye on in the first 7 episodes, as her role grows as time progresses. Trevor St. John’s conspiracy theorist Leo also plays an interesting role.
Despite there being love interests and significant others — I mean, there ARE attractive young people separated by the cordon — this series is also quite a departure for The CW. While the virus outbreak obviously has some sci-fi trappings, it’s not straight-up genre fare. I don’t think it’s a show that will create “shipper arguments,” which will probably be a relief for Julie Plec. But it is scary drama that reminds me a little bit of Season 1 of The Walking Dead, in that danger is around any corner. I also dare any viewer not to cringe whenever someone coughs, after watching this series.
There’s a lot of TV to choose from these days. There are very few shows I have the time or interest in watching live. If I hadn’t seen the Containment screeners, I’d probably still insist on watching live, because it is addictive. It’s an immersive world and I hope it does well for The CW. I’d understand if it might not, but I highly recommend if you’re considering it to watch and give it a few episodes and see if you get hooked.
Ultimately, despite this glowing review, there are two things I’m not sure about going into this series. One is that I’m not sure I’m a fan of The CW describing this as a “Limited Series.” Will the TV audiences that fear getting interested in a lame duck, still tune in? So often I feel like viewers want to start on a journey, especially watching a show on The CW, and I’m not sure that going in expecting only 13 episodes and that’s it, ever, does the trick, especially since producers have supposedly said they’re open to doing more, so why call it a “limited series?” The other thing I’m not sure about has to do with the broadcast TV model itself. As I mentioned before, Containment is like a perfect Netflix show — something like Daredevil or Jessica Jones that you’d just want to watch back-to-back. Will viewers have the patience to wait from week to week?
We’ll find out. But if you were on the fence about watching, my recommendation is to tune in. Worst-case scenario, you get to see Chris Wood in a wifebeater, which isn’t a loss at all. Best-case scenario, you come out enjoying the pilot and finding a show and a cast you can enjoy for 13 weeks. If you do watch, I dare you to not ugly-cry at least once in those first seven episodes, because it’s going to happen. Containment was probably one of the most enjoyable screener-watching experiences I’ve had this year, and it’d be a shame if people miss out on this gem.
And one last thing: Why do I call Containment “a Netflix show on The CW?” It’s very binge-worthy, and Netflix seems to be a level of quality that people sometimes would also attribute to a high-class HBO series. Emmy Award winning director David Nutter (Game of Thrones) did the pilot, so would you expect anything less?
Containment premieres tonight (April 19) at 9PM ET/PT on The CW. You can find some photos, trailers, and interviews related to the show here!