Zoo is a “CBS Event Series” that’s taken from the novel by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge. When violent animal attacks begin happening all over the world (lions escape a zoo and kill people in Los Angeles as well as on a safari trip in Africa) Jackson Oz (James Wolk) decides to do some investigating on an international level. It turns out that his deceased father (Ken Olin) was a crackpot scientist who ranted and raved about the animal kingdom eventually rising up to bite the human race on their collective behinds. He made a series of babbling lectures on video, some of which can only be found at his abandoned research facility off the coast of Japan.
While this nascent investigation begins, more and more animal attacks occur, with wolves overrunning a prison and killing everybody inside (which was really a little hard to believe, but ok, whatever….) and birds dive-bombing people at a park (and no, Tipi Hendren was nowhere to be seen here). Jackson’s father rants in his videos about something called a ‘defiant pupil,’ but instead of a surly kid in class, this actually refers to an animal having one eye where the pupil looks melted. This is a clear sign of an animal–lion, house cat, bird–that’s been turned. Eventually Jackson joins forces with a special team that’s been set up to look into stopping this animal apocalypse–as well as get chased by the bad guys. Because you know them frisky bad guys, they love messing shit up.
If you’re looking for one of these deep, angst-driven dramas, the Emmy bait show with the anti-hero who’s trying to figure out what went wrong with his life, then keep looking, because Zoo isn’t that series, not by a long shot. It’s a big gaudy adventure that’s more like a Irwin Allen disaster film meets Food Of The Gods (only the nasty critters here are normal sized). It’s a globe-trotting story with the team winding up in a new locale every week, and when they’re not dodging killer cats and rats, they’re dodging the henchmen of an evil corporation that may be behind the whole thing.
And while it’s enjoyable in a popcorn movie kind of way, just don’t think too hard about the twisty plot, which oftentimes veers off into the silliness territory of a Michael Bay film (only without the exploding stuff). Still, its goofiness is part of Zoo’s charm (the early episode with the killer house cats lying in wait for schoolchildren is good, corny fun), and I found myself hooked just waiting to see what latest outlandish situation the writers thought up for their hapless characters. In spite of its campiness played straight and elephant-sized plot holes, I still enjoyed this one. –SF