Monday, October 13, 2014

Tremors: The Series - Hit and Run

There's always trouble when Michael Rooker comes to town.

The fourth episode of the Tremors TV show, an extension of the film series, is the first entry in the entire franchise on which co-creators S.S. Wilson and Brent Maddock don't receive a writing credit, not even a "Story by". Instead, sole credit on Hit and Run goes to Christopher Silber, who made his writing debut on Tremors: The Series and went on to work on such shows as Cold Case, NCIS, CSI: NY, and Elementary.

Directed by P.J. Pesce (From Dusk Till Dawn 3: The Hangman's Daughter), the episode begins not in the small town of Perfection, Nevada or in the surrounding desert, but in the big city. Las Vegas. There, two low-level mobsters named Max and Frank are given a key which they're to use to retrieve an item from a vault in 48 hours. The stone cold higher-up who gives them the key, a man named Kinney and played by The Walking Dead's Michael Rooker, advises him to lay low over the next two days, until it's time to make the pick-up.

Frank cries foul when he sees a news report about a tourist having a close call in Perfection with the area's resident Graboid (a subterranean, massive prehistoric worm-like creature) El Blanco, believing all of this Graboid business is just a scam. That inspires Max to take his loudmouthed little buddy to Perfection so he can see the Graboid, which is protected as an endangered species, with his own two eyes. A trip to Perfection will be the perfect way to lay low.

Since the Perfection tourist was on Tyler Reed's Graboid Adventure Tour when he nearly became El Blanco's lunch, Department of the Interior agent Twitchell, assigned to keep the citizens in line since they're living in El Blanco's habitat, suspends the tour business and threatens to shut it down permanently. To the chagrin of local survivalist Burt Gummer, the liveliood of the Perfection residents relies on tourists, so he puts his own Survival School on the line in an effort to get Twitchell to allow the Graboid Adventure Tour to continue. As Burt sets out to ensure that El Blanco will never again come near Tyler's truck, Twitchell warns him that he will be responsible if any more tourists are attacked.

Which makes the arrival of the reckless pair of Max and Frank, who are determined to see El Blanco up close no matter what it takes, very bad timing. Max and Frank get a very good look at the Graboid, and another tourist does get harmed - El Blanco swallows Max whole. With Kinney's key on him.

The presence of these Vegas types really unnerves Rosalita Sanchez, a former showgirl who left the city to take over her uncle Miguel's cattle ranch in Perfection Valley. Although the details of Rosalita's past are never revealed, it's clear that she had a very bad experience in Las Vegas, and she has the scars to prove it. Most notably the knife scar on her abdomen.

The contents of the vault the key will open are twenty million dollars in negotiable bearer bonds, and that's enough to bring Kinney to Perfection with the intention of hunting El Blanco down, spearing him with a harpoon, and retrieving the key from his guts.

When the locals realize what Kinney and Frank are up to out in the desert, Burt, Twitchell, Tyler, and Rosalita race to stop them from harming El Blanco.

By the time the credits roll on the episode, a large number of bullets have been fired, El Blanco has been successfully conditioned to stay away from the tour truck, and the Graboid has eaten a popular character actor.

Now that there were several hours of Tremors adventures to come up with, it makes sense that the Vegas underworld would get involved somehow, and the way that element was mixed in with this episode totally works. It's very well executed, although the character of Frank is extremely annoying.

The character of Rosalita showed glimpses of further depth in this episode and the previous one, Blast from the Past. It's a shame the show-runners never got a chance to fully flesh out her history, since the series only lasted for one season. They had plans to reveal some of her secrets in the second season.

I really enjoy the fact that Michael Rooker made an appearance on this show, I like when familiar faces from the genre find themselves up against iconic characters and creatures, and the sight of Rooker facing off with a Graboid is awesome.

Christopher Silber didn't have the Tremors creators writing with him, but with this episode he made an excellent contribution to the world they had crafted.

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