Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Tremors: The Series - The Sounds of Silence

Mixmaster doesn't take a break just because Burt isn't around.

The arrival of brash, anti-authority scientist Doctor Donna Debevic in Nevada's Perfection Valley coincides with some very strange goings on concerning the area's subterranean life forms in the penultimate episode of the Tremors television series.

Perfection is, of course, home to the Graboid called El Blanco, and it's this protected member of an endangered species that has brought Debevic out into the desert, as she wants to record the sounds that he makes to add them to her collection of animal recordings. While she is recording him, however, he gets scared by something... something that the area's seismographic monitors show as being a second Graboid, but through Debevic's equipment it can be heard making a horrendous shriek, as loud as a jet take-off, that is unlike any sound any Graboid has ever made.

Monitoring equipment throughout the valley goes haywire. Screens go to static, seismograph alerts that are meant to tell the residents of Perfection when El Blanco is close go off when there is no Graboid activity anywhere around, and also show that there are multiple Graboids all over the place.

Eventually, the characters are able to deduce that there's not actually a new batch of Graboids in the valley. These underground creatures being caught on the monitors are not one large beast, but a mass of several hundred to several thousand smaller creatures. Creatures that make ear-splitting noises, noise so loud it can be deadly, and which devour wood. Or, if the opportunity arises, flesh.

As it turns out, Perfection has the worst insect problem ever, as the gene-splicing compound that's loose in the valley, Mixmaster, has combined the DNA of cicadas, termites, and maggots to make a new hybrid super bug. It's up to the locals to somehow eradicate these dangerous pests before they manage to eat their town to the ground, or worse, make it out of the valley and continue to spread across the land.

Perfection's population grows by one in this episode, as the character of Larry Norvel, the sci-fi fanboy offically introduced in the episode Flora or Fauna?, moves into town after realizing that his Wisconsin home life is very unfulfilling compared to his experience in Perfection. I find this to be quite unfortunate, because Larry's hyperactive demeanor and ridiculous enthusiasm over getting to face monstrous threats continues to make him extremely annoying to me.

Debevic is merely making a guest appearance here, and in her attitude and opinions she comes off as a female version of the series' star, survivalist Burt Gummer. Burt isn't in town during the events of this episode, and though characters tell Debevic to stick around until he gets back (he's off buying a periscope in Idaho), figuring the two will hit it off, Debevic isn't interested. She has seen Burt interviewed and considers him a stiff. Not a man worth shaving her legs for.

The real reason why Burt Gummer isn't in this episode at all is because Tremors 4: The Legend Begins was filming at the same time as the last few episodes of the TV series, so actor Michael Gross's services were required elsewhere.

The Sounds of Silence, written by Babs Greyhosky and directed by Michael Shapiro (also the writer/director pairing behind the episode Blast from the Past), presents the Perfection bunch with a disturbing, creepy-crawly adversary in Burt's absence and the Debevic character is an entertaining one - if the series had continued, it would have been fun if we had gotten to see her interact with Burt. It's one of the better entries in the series, and as the only season of Tremors: The Series nears its end, it's an episode that really makes me wish the show had gone on.

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