SNOWPIERCER the series is finally here on TNT in the US and Netflix globally. Season 1 is coming out with weekly episodes and I’m rather disappointed with it so far. Jennifer Connelly is great, but making this a crime drama is a huge mistake. Read our full Snowpiercer review here!
The Snowpiercer series is here! It’s been a long time coming but season 1 has started on TNT in the US and Netflix will soon follow with episodes airing the day after their TNT release.
Right off the bat, I can only say that I wish this series was an actual Netflix production. Alternatively, it could have been an excellent HBO series. Or even Amazon’s Prime Video or Hulu could have done something great with this amazing premise. Instead, we get this TNT version with an awesome cast but a plot that looks like all the other crime shows out there.
Continue reading our Snowpiercer season 1 review below.
Sci-Fi turned detective crime drama
I loved the gritty and rough look of the Snowpiercer movie by Bong Joon-ho (Parasite and Okja). For this Snowpiercer series, we’re off to a great start with an animated opening setting the stage. Very quickly (way too quickly) we move seven years into the future and suddenly this story turns into a crime drama.
Yes, Snowpiercer turns into a detective drama within the first episode and it’s really boring.
I mean, who cares about the murder of some character we don’t even know?! Especially when we’re on a train with the last 3,000 human beings on the planet. You haven’t even bothered to properly introduce the various characters and now we’re moving on with a crime drama instead of the sci-fi plot?
Also, it’s so ridiculous that this murder case can somehow only be solved by a man living in the tail-end of the train. Suddenly, after him living for years at the very bottom of the food chain, this one man is so very important that he can get away with the strangest things.
I’m the kind of person who loves it when you change the race, sexuality, or gender of characters for the sake of diversity. I mean, come on, the world is diverse and our movies and TV series should be as well. I am fine with a black man playing a similar role to Chris Evans’ in the movie by Bong Joon-ho. In fact, I even prefer and applaud it.
The casting of the Snowpiercer series
However, I do not like anything about the Andre Layton character as portrayed by Daveed Diggs (Velvet Buzzsaw). Not one thing! He is unlikeable to me in just about every way and it makes everything hard to believe. And what’s worse is the fact that I just don’t root for him. A real problem when he’s supposed to be the rebellion leader.
I actually do like Daveed Diggs in other things. Just not as Andre Layton. And that really sucks. I even get annoyed with the fact that they can’t even get his hair right. In some scenes (probably shot early or late in production which has been a long time running), his dreads look extremely skinny and slick. In others, they look rough for wear, thicker and more realistic.
Again, this just throws you off when watching a show that supposed to be about survival.
Instead, I find myself rooting for Jennifer Connelly’s character of Melanie Cavill. She’s responsible for the PR of the Willford train (aka the Snowpiercer). Also, she’s in charge of pretty much everything else and just overall rules! I don’t think I’m supposed to be in favor of her though she clearly has a lot more to offer than meets the eye.
Honestly, I always like Jennifer Connelly and it is typical that the “dark horse” (or even “villain”) of a story is more interesting to watch. Jennifer Connelly’s Melanie Cavill isn’t actually the “bad guy”. She’s just trying to keep everything on the train running smoothly.
Other key cast members I should mention are Sheila Vand (The Wave), Mickey Sumner (Low Winter Sun), Happy Anderson (Mindhunter). Also, there’s the always awesome Amanda Brugel (The Handmaid’s Tale, Becky), Lena Hall, Sarah Strange (Legends of Tomorrow), and Kerry O’Malley (Annabelle 2: Creation).
With many more appearing as the season progresses!
Required for watching: Suspension of disbelief – big time!
My main issue with the Snowpiercer series on TNT (and subsequently Netflix) is the extreme need for suspension of disbelief.
I’ve watched the movie (even rewatched it before watching the series) and I am familiar with the comic. I know the train is used as a metaphor for the “fortress of class” and the struggles to move up in the world. Once you’re at the bottom, it’s impossible unless someone from the top helps you.
However, it is also literally a train which is what makes this a sci-fi series. And as such, it just does not work. One moment the train is able to hold an entire night club with its own backroom of sorts. The next moment, it’s only as wide as you would expect and you can see the windows on both sides. That simply does not work with my need for (or any) logic!
I liked the fact that we also see a transportation system of sorts happening in the bottom (basement, if you will) of the train. But this still doesn’t explain how the train is both very wide and very narrow. It’s like those tiny houses. You can build up or down, but you cannot make it wider than it is.
A TNT production on Netflix
Also, this series does not feel like a Netflix production. Basically, the overall production style screams classic “flow TV”. Specifically, it’s very TNT because I’ve loved plenty of classic TV series such as Orphan Black, Mr. Robot, or The Alienist. The latter was also a TNT series that aired on Netflix globally.
Recommended reading: More on the Netflix / TNT series The Alienist here >
In terms of the TNT look-and-feel of the Snowpiercer series. That damn background music is just killing me. If at any moment you’re in doubt about how to feel about anything you see on screen, the music will tell you. In an over-the-top soap opera style. Leading into every commercial break, the music swells in a way that is simply ridiculous.
I was shocked (shocked, I tell you) to discover that the music for Snowpiercer is by Bear McCreary. One of my absolute favorite composers. He composed such iconic themes as the ones for The Walking Dead, Battlestar Galactica, and Black Sails. The theme might be alright for this series, but the rest of the music is nothing like the elegance and power of McCreary.
Season 2 of Snowpiercer has already been greenlit
Yes, season 2 of Snowpiercer is greenlit and will come out in 2021. It was already given the “go-ahead” prior to season 1 airing, which definitely gives me cause for hope! Also, I do love the concept and the cast members, so I will hang in there and hope that it evolves into something better.
After watching the first five episodes of season 1 (out of 10 episodes), I am not very positive. But I am hopeful. Mostly because I loved the original film adaptation directed by Bong Joon-ho and produced by Park Chang-wook (Oldboy).
Both are involved as producers on this series, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we just need to get over a bumpy ride in the beginning. Then, hopefully, things will look up and we’ll get to the gritty story that isn’t about solving a murder and playing detective on a train.
Watch Snowpiercer on Netflix or TNT
The ultimate showrunner of the Snowpiercer series is Graeme Manson, which was another thing that made me excited for this series version of the story. Graeme Manson was also the creator of the Orphan Black series, which I love and highly recommend watching. Also, he co-wrote the script for the iconic horror sci-fi movie Cube (1997).
With this experience, I figured Snwopiercer as a series would be in safe hands. However, when I call him the “ultimate” showrunner it’s because he wasn’t actually the original showrunner. The first one was Josh Friedman who also developed the Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles series.
Both showrunners have experience with sci-fi. However, apparently, Josh Friedman’s vision was somewhat different. This could explain why Snowpiercer feels a little too unhinged in many ways in this first season.
Episode 1 of Snowpiercer (the pilot episode), as well as the two final episodes of season 1, was directed by James Hawes. He previously directed episodes of iconic series such as Black Mirror, The Alienist, and Penny Dreadful. Also, Helen Shaver directed two episodes of season 1. She’s directed on series like Westworld, Orphan Black, and Person of Interest.
With so many truly talented people on board this train, this series has to become better than what this beginning has lead me to believe.
Snowpiercer season 1 premiered on TNT on May 17 and will begin on Netflix on May 25, 2020.
Creator: Graeme Manson
Stars: Jennifer Connelly, Daveed Diggs, Mickey Sumner, Sheila Vand, Alison Wright, Iddo Goldberg, Lena Hall, Karin Konoval, Sam Otto, Emma Oliver, Katie McGuinness, Jonathan Walker, Dylan Schmid, Sean Bean
Set over seven years after the world has become a frozen wasteland, Snowpiercer centers on the remnants of humanity, who inhabit a gigantic, perpetually-moving train that circles the globe.