As opposed to his previous fellow co-worker Damon Lindelof who concentrates on the brilliant The Leftovers and a little Disney movie called… Tomorrowland, Carlton Cuse is buzzy buzzy on TV with 5 series at different stages of production: Bates Motel’s season three, The Strain‘s season two, The Returned‘s first season, Amazon’s Point Of Honor pilot and now Colony for USA Network, just ordered to series for 10 episodes airing this fall. He co-wrote the pilot script with Ryan Condal, with whom he worked on an ambitious pilot for NBC two years ago, called The Sixth Gun, which sadly didn’t move forward and I still think the network did a great mistake there… Anyway. Colony is another ambitious project which reunites him with someone he was stuck on an island with for several years: Josh Holloway, Lost‘s Sawyer.
Colony is not another story of alien invasion, like Falling Skies is, or V was. It’s more of a survival, but not The Walking Dead kind. It’s much more family friendly, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it’s probably closer to Fear The Walking Dead, the spin-off in the works at AMC, also centered on a family except they are not facing an invisible enemy like they do in Colony, but fucking zombies. So yes, the first thing to know is that no one in Los Angeles has ever seen the “intruders”. Well, no one claims to. Will we ever? Probably. But not anytime soon. That’s not the point. So far, they are only represented by millions of metallic drones, flying all over the city at night to oversee the curfew decided by the Authorities, and an impressive spacecraft, shown by far towards the end of the pilot. The only visible enemies are in fact the collaborators, those the Bowman family has no choice but to join in order to live an easier life, or so they are led to believe, with one precious goal to achieve: finding their oldest son, captured and sent to somewhere called “The Factory”, where people say no one comes back from… alive. No you’re not dreaming, a lot of comparisons can be drawn to second world war. It’s easy and obvious but it works.
The city of Los Angeles is a real character in itself in the pilot, and I love the way the writers progressively describes it throughout the first two acts. This way, the picture becomes more and more clearer in our heads… and frightening. We are embarked on the two separate journeys of the father Will and his wife Katie, who are looking for two different things: he wants to pass through the occupied zone he lives in to the exclusion zone where we don’t know exactly what happens, neither does he, it seems; she needs to find medecine for her nephew who could die soon, a rare commidity in those troubled times. His part is really tense and ends badly; hers is a little more agreed, and less interesting. But both gives us a real sense of who they are and why we should love them. We also visit a big luxurious mansion in the hills of Los Angeles with an incredible view on the city, and we discover there walls have been built all around; and also a very intruiging place called the Sanctuary House. I won’t spoil what it’s about but you’ll discover soon enough (and you can guess). Carlton Cuse definitely knows how to create conflicts, raise questions and gives a sense of mystery to everything, without forgetting to picture properly his heroes. I have nothing to say about the kids… and the dog. They are kids, one is cute, one is an angry teenager. And this is a dog. Like any other dog.
I’m a not a big fan of either Josh Holloway and Sarah Wayne Callies, and I don’t think either Bates Motel and The Strain are incredible shows we should all watch, but I feel like Colony is special enough to be highly anticipated by the TV junkies we are. It’s a departure from what USA Network has accustomed us to so it’s hard to tell which direction they want the show to go to and what is the long-term plan, but the pilot script is skillfully constructed and made me want to read (and watch) more. I’m suspicious though: how far can they go? It will have to go darker at some point to stay relevant…