The Passage review – a vampire drama to sink your teeth into

The hunt is on to create a super-vaccine to save humanity from a vampiric vaccine-gone-wrong in this credible, pacy take on Justin Cronin’s bestseller

How wise dear Blaise Pascal was when he wrote: “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” If only the good doctors in the opening scenes of this adaptation of Justin Cronin’s bestseller The Passage (Fox) had imbibed his words before they went spelunking for vampires.

That’s your mistake, you see. If you hear rumour of a 250-year-old man surviving in a Bolivian cave, just … leave it. No good can come, y’know?

Best friends Dr Jonas Lear (desirous of a cure for his wife’s early-onset dementia) and Dr Tim Fanning (desirous of the dollars that would come from using an immortal’s blood to develop a vaccine for all known diseases) find their guy. He, alas, is desirous of sinking his teeth into Dr Fanning’s veiny, venal neck and duly does so, turning Fanning (Jamie McShane) into Patient Zero for a vampiric virus that carries the potential to save mankind from all the ills living flesh is heir to. Don’t look too hard at the science. It’s not what we’re here for.

Within a few years, a secret medical facility has acquired a bunkerful of human guinea pigs who, as part of “Project Noah”, have traded life on death row for life as a potentially immortal lab rat (sorry – the Figures of Speech shop had a twofer on rodent metaphors). A dozen of them have ended up in a human-vampire limbo. Stuck in their cells with nothing but thrice-daily meals at the blood trough to distract them, they communicate telepathically and invade the dreams of the staff who attend them.

So far, this show does exactly what every ounce of its opening scene’s script, premise, direction, acting and bloody convulsions promised, which is deliver a daft story at pace and slightly but distinctly better than needed. There is no nobler creative pursuit and no greater viewing pleasure. You can smell when the slightest contempt has crept in to the making of any genre piece – be it book, film or TV – and it kills any chance of success on contact. The Passage smells great.

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