Terry Gardner: Rabid About CBS’ “Zoo”

zoo featured
Written by Terry Gardner

CBS’ “Zoo” predicts a world where animals communicate and hunt humans down. Travel editor and animal lover Terry Gardner dishes on the campy and entertaining show. Season finale Sept. 15.

aNewDomainterry-gardner-anewdomain-geniuspack-backpack-review-geniuspack-intelligent-backpack — What would happen if animals around the world began communicating and turned against us?

That is the question posed by “Zoo,” a book by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge and a new CBS series, in which a team of humans are racing around the clock and around the world to try to reverse biological changes in the animal kingdom. From lion attacks in Africa and Los Angeles to bat attacks in the Antarctic, our heroes fear that humans may be on the brink of extinction.

Of course, humanity may deserve it. Reiden Global has been allowed to run amuck, poisoning most of the Earth with its chemicals. For me, Reiden Global is a fairly direct representation of Monsanto, the seed company that is modifying fruits and vegetables at a genetic level for higher yields. You might picture Halliburton or BP in Reiden’s shoes — whatever the case, let’s hope Syngenta is tuning into “Zoo” and continues to rebuff Monsanto’s advances.

zoo the cheese stands aloneI would love an episode next year to show animals multiplying more rapidly after ingesting Monsanto corn. That’s just one example. In this season, the episode “The Cheese Stands Alone” has already shown aberrant reproduction abilities in rats.

The Line Between Solid and Silly

As an animal nut, I may buy into the storyline more than most. And I am troubled that captive lions and other “trained” wild animals were used during the filming of this season (more on that below).

Episodes show wolves breaking a prisoner out of jail, bears threatening housewives in Paris and bats working together to crash human technology, from planes to phones to electrical lines. Of course all of those animal scenes weren’t using real animals, but still …

zoo bat“Zoo” has been reviewed as campy, but is that such a bad thing? Once we’re too old for summer camp, isn’t campy entertainment one of the joys of summer? With stretched plot lines and frequently lame dialogue, the show is perfect for relaxing on the sofa, sipping some wine and checking out the pupils of your pet. (A key sign that an animal has evolved into a people killer is a dominant pupil. I keep looking at my cat, asking her if she still loves me. From the tone of her “meow,” I fear she could be evolving.)

I mean, that’s how my weeknights go.

A Fur-Packed Cast.

zoo full castOne of the show’s main assets is an attractive cast that usually makes lame lines sound plausible (but not always). James Wolk, Billy Burke, Kristen Connolly and Nora Amezeder are easy on the eyes. And every viewer will want Nonso Anozie to protect them. Although he is an imposing presence, he often shows the most vulnerability and tenderness.

The main ensemble has been put together to try to cure the animals from their untoward behavior — or at least that’s what the cast has been told. Amezeder plays Chloe Tousignant, a former French spy, assigned to lead the team. Wolk plays Jackson Oz, an American zoologist whose late father began noticing changes in the animals long before it was evident to the world. Anozie is Abraham Kenyatta, a safari guide that worked with Oz in Africa. Burke plays Mitch Morgan, a veterinary pathologist and Connolly plays Jamie Campbell, a Los Angeles reporter/blogger whose mother died from a cancer caused by Reiden chemicals.

The smoking “mother cell” that may have killed her mother also caused the animals to evolve. The plot thickens …

Take a look at the CBS preview and see if you aren’t intrigued:

Video: Zoo Series Premiere Sneak Peek

The animals aren’t taking over yet! So protect them.

Here’s hoping there’s a second season where computer-generated imagery (CGI) is employed, rather than live wild animals that could be put at risk by the production. PETA hopes the series dies because it uses wild animals — a straightforward approach, and typical of PETA.

It seems to me that there should be sufficient wild animal footage from this year to generate next year’s animals using actors’ imaginations, green screen and CGI.

Last month I wrote about why it’s a bad idea to have your picture snapped holding a lion cub in Africa — the cub you hold today could be euthanized or sold to a canned hunt tomorrow.

“Zoo” could set a great example by switching to CGI to help protect lions and other wild animals. The fewer animals used in the entertainment industry, the more there are in the wild, which in the long run will dry up revenue for poachers. And if the producers take one moment to ponder Cecil the lion’s tragic death, they will move to CGI.

Hopefully, PETA will not object to this video made with my cat. I did not have a signed model release. Take a look at Cat Stalker and tell me if you think Greta’s eyes are changing.

If you’re into animals and have an evening to spend with your furry friend, switch on “Zoo.” You’ll be entertained, at the least. The season finale is tomorrow night, Sept. 15, 2015. You can tune in here.

For aNewDomain, I’m travel editor Terry Gardner.

All screenshots courtesy CBS