Between First Season Ends: Renewal?

Still from Between
Between, the Canadian series which was essentially a riff on the old New Zealand kid’s TV show The Tribe, has finished, the first season ended after it’s “ordered” six episodes and there is no news of renewal…yet. Starring Jennette McCurdy, Jesse Carere, Ryan Allen and Justin Kelly, the show follows the trials of under-22s in Pretty Lake who have survived a viral attack killing off everyone over the age of 21.

The town is broken down into the rich kid, the poor ones and the in-betweens, which includes the smarter-than-smart MIT accepted wunderkind Adam (Carere) and the teen mom, Wiley (McCurdy). The series started with a bit of a whimper. Although it has to be said that the deaths of the “grown-ups” impressed. A sudden coughing attack and then thick blood drooling from the mouth and…death. Quick, disturbing and set up in such a way that one knew the younger denizens of the town were completely freaked out by the sight and suddenness of their parents, teachers, and so on expiring so fast and inexplicably.

The first episode of Between had McCurdy’s character acting like another variation of Ellen Page’s Juno in the film of the same name, but that soon changed after it was revealed that Wiley’s “baby father” was the rich guy who owns most of the town and whose son, Chuck steps up to take charge after all the older citizens die.

The Creekers, born on the wrong side of the tracks and who are still living there, fight Chuck every step of the way and provide a lot of conflict for the rich kid who is trying to keep things together. There were some things about the show that grated.

For instance, the seemingly obligatory “mentally challenged” sibling, who is doomed to die, the drug addict brother who wants to be good, even if he does almost rape a girl, and the crazy smart teen prodigy who helps to figure things out. The entire plot does make one think of cult favorite The Tribe but the setting and the characters are wildly different. The change of locale along with the increased sophistication of the kids in the show made the whole thing refreshing although woefully slow.

For a season which was only going to consist of six episodes the very fact that things do not really “take off” till episode five shows either complete faith that there will be a season two, or that the show’s producers were not aware that the pacing was snail paced and annoying. Netflix does not have the problem of most networks, their rating system does not dictate whether they cancel a series or not, at least it certainly appears that way.

The show suffered a bit from clunky acting and storylines that were a little predictable. There were issues of events that were illogical and potholes that one could drive a lorry through…

But…

The pickup of action in episode five and six; the series finale, and the improvement in the performances made the show feel like it was finally sailing instead of tacking. This illusion of smoothness, versus fighting the tide, makes the short six episode season seem unfair and a tad annoying.

There is no word, not that this reviewer can find, on whether the show will be renewed or not. Entertainment review site Rotten Tomatoes slaughtered the series and on IMDb the rating of Between is a paltry 5.5.

Followers on Twitter, @betweenseries numbers 2858 and the show’s Facebook page has under 6,300 likes. The series may well vanish without a trace with fan numbers this low. If Between does hang on for another season, it will be a miracle as well as very annoying when one compares it to other, vastly superior, Canadian export The Lottery where Marley Shelton tried to save an infertile world inspire of a corrupt and evil government.

The six season series can still be seen on Netflix.

Between: War (recap and review)

Jennette McCurdy in Between as Wiley
Last week’s episode, End of the Rope raised the stakes and really put things on the boil for the characters of Between and this week in War, they continue to show just how bad things can get in the beleaguered community of young survivors.

Adam’s father wakes him up in the prison to take him to safety. Pat is eaten up with guilt over killing Amanda and Chuck arms his lads with the intent of arresting the Creekers for his sister’s death. Gord tells Hannah she should have let him know she was married and the Mennonite girl returns to her community. Wiley wants to talk to Chuck and Pat’s sister tells her it is a very bad idea.

Chuck and his police force head to the Creeker residence and the family is not there. They find the car, that Pat struck Amanda with. Frances talks Gord into taking the milk into town for Melissa and the kids she looks after.

Adam’s father tries to take him to the tunnel that he used to get into Pretty Lake. The boy learns that not only is there no cure but that his dad worked on the virus. His father tells Adam that he is not immune and that there is no protection against it. Samantha tells Chuck that she knows the Creekers were responsible for Amanda’s death and tells the boy that Pat is there having confessed.

Adam and his continue to talk. Soldiers arrive and Adam’s dad says that they are early and that the military will kill the kids to prevent the spread of the virus. The soldiers, he says, do not know that their masks will not protect them and they believe they are inoculating the children to save them, not kill them. He coughs up blood and dies. Afterward, Adam stands by a door and looks ready to leave Pretty Lake.

Ronnie, Wiley and baby Jason, along with Tracey show up to save Pat. As things spiral out of control, Chuck takes aim at the elder Creeker to shoot him, Wiley jumps in the way demanding that she be killed for Amanda’s death as well. Gord and Melissa show up and big sister forces Wiley to tell Chuck who Jason’s father is and it is revealed that Chuck’s dad is the father. Jason is his brother.

The soldiers rush to “round up a 1,000 kids” and give them the injections. The group at the church; Chuck and the rest, begin to break up when Adam arrives. He tells them that the soldiers outside are there to kill them all. Chuck argues that it cannot be true and Adam points out the lack of communication with the outside world, no television, land-lines or cell phone signals. He also reminds them of the plane being shot down. The government, Adam says, are cleaning up their mess.

After striking Adam, the soldiers are overpowered and Wiley says that if Adam is wrong, “We’re all screwed.” All the kids are being taken to the prison of their shots and Wiley learns that Adam came back to save the kids. Gord and Adam dress up in the soldiers uniforms to escort the group to the prison and stop the soldiers from injecting the kids and wait for them to die. Mark says he can help them get to the control room at the prison as he was an inmate.

While Gord and his group head for the prison, Melissa and Wiley clear the air about the baby and their relationship. Two more soldiers appear and take them to the prison. The plan seems to be working as Gord and the guys follow Mark to the control room. Meanwhile the soldiers are injecting the smaller children.

As Wiley and Melissa are being transported, the soldier driving begins to choke and he dies. The van crashes. The guys are caught out by two other soldiers and the group split up after overpowering the duo. Adam makes it to the control room and as he begins to lock the prison down, his father turns up, not dead after all.

When questioned about it, Adam’s father explains that they are the only two who are immune to the virus as he used his own DNA to make the stuff. It was never meant to be used but Art Carey “went rogue” and infected the town of Pretty Lake. Adam has to shoot his father to save the remaining kids.

The rest of the show is a race between soldiers dying and kids being murdered and a huge dose of irony.

By the end of Between the price of survival has been dear. Two main characters die and there are a couple of heart-stopping moments when it looks like Frances will be killed as well. Rather interestingly, the whole idea behind the virus is population control, similar to the back story behind another Canadian series, The Lottery.

Adam learns that not only can father’s lie, but that governments do as well. Dad may have come back to get the boy, but at the price of killing the rest of the kids in Pretty Lake and the government knows this is happening. The cell phones come back on so the prime minister can tell the kids about the injections. Like the short lived Canadian series The Lottery, the underlying message of Between is that government’s lie and that we are all expendable for the greater good.

The episode War continues to show just how bad things can get in the contaminated area. This Netflix series has turned the corner from a slow uninteresting start to a show that should not be missed. Jennette McCurdy has grown into her character, Jesse Carere has made Adam believable and the rest of the cast are rocking their roles out of the park. Between should be re-named Unmissable.

Between: End of the Rope (recap and review)

Publicity poster for Between
Between, the Netflix Canadian answer to The Tribe has finally gotten past its slow and illogical beginnings in End of the Rope. Taking until episode five to get things moving may not have been the best game plan in the world, but at long last the show has picked up pace and gotten interesting with a few twists thrown in for good measure. The show tried to invigorate its plot and action last week when Ronnie attempted to rape Wiley while under the influence of booze and Oxy.

It looks like the new mother’s decision to stay with the Creeker’s for a break was not the best of all ideas. The only member of the ostracized family who thinks clearly is the sister, apparently, as later Pat decides that holding Wiley and, the newly named baby, Jason hostage in order to get antibiotics for Annie is the way to go. Ronnie is going through withdrawal on top of suffering from a major headache after sis smacked him with the business end of shovel in mid “Wiley attack.”

Gord is called to town after Vince, one of Chuck’s hockey team “cops,” gets very ill; vomiting, running a fever and unable to move. The “country doc” says the boy has a burst appendix and Chuck says he will fly him over the fence for treatment. Gord warns against this action saying that authorities outside the fence will shoot the plane down. Kevin, another hockey cop, says his grandpa taught him a little about flying and he will take Vince.

Later the lads stand and watch as the plane makes its hesitant takeoff and within seconds of becoming airborne the aircraft is shot down with a rocket. Chuck and Gord have a fight after this and the boy in charge orders Gord to stay of it. Amanda discovers Jack missing and goes to find him. She finds Harrison’s (the diabetic boy who stole the car in last week’s show) sister with the dog.

Adam searches Art Carey’s house and finds that the man had access to the Pretty Lake prison and has a key card to room 14. He goes to investigate. Once inside the prison, the woman prison guard locks him in and confronts Adam with a shotgun. He runs and she shoots at the boy chasing him through the facility.

Ronnie, who earlier flushed all the Oxy down the toilet, starts to lose it because Jason will not stop screaming. Amanda sees Jack run off and goes chasing after him. Wiley and Pat go back to get some antibiotics and bump into Melissa at the drugstore. After some harsh words they get the drugs and are driving back to the Creeker home. While discussing Ronnie, the Amanda runs in front of the vehicle and is run down. She dies and Pat tells Wiley they have to get out of there.

Hannah, the Mennonite girl who went to school with Gord, treats his wounds after his fight with Chuck and moves in with him and his sister. Earlier she took some oil for the milk cows to treat their mastitis and when a bearded mennonite shows up, Gord thinks he want the liniment back, but it turns out that Hannah is married and he wants her back.

Ronnie goes after the baby and his sister with a knife and comes close to killing himself. Adam almost dies and is saved by the last person he expects to see behind the fence. Things in Pretty Lake have “gone South” with the force of an avalanche. Three, or more, dead and it looks like their problems are far from over. Jennette McCurdy is picking up as Wiley and the rest of the cast are getting into their characters and becoming that little bit more believable. Well done Between, you have upped the game and made the show more enjoyable because of it. Keep it up.

Between: Love Hurts (Recap/Review)

Publicity logo for Between
The latest episode of Between, number four actually, was titled Love Hurts, it could have been called Lonely at the Top, as Chuck learns to his chagrin by the end of the show. The segment this week was all about making bad decisions or making friends with the wrong people. Wiley, learns that hooking up with Ronnie was a very bad idea when their “hunting trip” turns into an attack and almost being raped.

The new mother gasps out that the whole town “knows you’re not right in the head and raping a girl is the only way you’ll get one.” When he starts to punch the girl in the face, his sister comes up and knocks him out with a shovel. Ronnie learns the hard way that his version of “wooing” a girl is not the right one.

Before Wiley’s close call, two young lads steal a car from Chuck’s dad’s car lot for a joy ride. The instigator, a little beanie wearing case of attitude, wrecks the car and Chuck’s cops have to chase the two down. As punishment the mouthy lad, who was the one who stole the car, is strapped to the town flagpole in the freezing cold. When his friend calls Chuck back because the beanie-boy is shivering, the rich kid gets a face full of spit from the recalcitrant little thief.

Adam has not given up on investigating the death of Chuck’s sister Lana. He finds evidence that points to Ronnie’s big brother, Pat. He then learns from his only suspect that not only was Chuck’s sister supplying Ronnie with drugs to sell, but she was in the middle of killing herself when Pat tried to stop her.

Chuck, who has leaned that Pat might have been responsible tries to corner him in the bowling alley, guns blazing. Adam stops the rich kid and hands him Lana’s suicide note.

Ms. Sullivan, who dreams about her birthday and the death of her fiancee spends the actual day away from the school. She helps Wiley’s sister, who is the only one running the town creche and in the process upsets the devoutly Christian girl by letting the kids play in, and mess up, the church. Later she goes to the bar with Adam to split a pitcher of beer.

The little car thief almost dies from insulin shock while being tied up and Chuck feels bad. On top of learning that his sister killed herself, he does feel pretty isolated as the self-proclaimed leader of law and order in Pretty Lake. Mark makes a deal to run the bar with Chuck’s former girlfriend and he insists that they should serve beer to little kids.

When Chuck shows up, Mark lies saying it was her idea. As the “legal” customers who are left sit in the dark candle lit bar, the electricity comes back on. At the same time the lights come back, Mark is captured by the female prison officer and Ms. Summers dies, blood running from her mouth.

These two events open up possibilities. Viewers now have to wonder just what the prison guard’s role is in the deaths of Pretty Lake’s grown ups as she enlists Mark’s help and tells him that freedom is his only by acting as her eyes and ears. The second incident, the teacher’s death, seems like it could be linked to the power coming back on.

Between as a series seems to be as doomed as the older denizens of Pretty Lake. In Love Hurts, it is not just the over 22 year-old residents who are dying, but those who can act. So far the show has specialized in casting kids who would have trouble channeling their way out of a paper bag.

Jennette McCurdy is most likely counting herself lucky that the show does not really revolve around her too much. Despite the twists and turns of the plot, the show is not overly convincing in either plot or acting. This one can be considered a miss, not even passible as children’s telly.

Between Episode 3: Here There be Tygers

Between Tumblr page headerThe third episode of Between, titled Crossing Lines, could just as easily been called Here There be Tygers. Since the Stephen King short story has to do with school children and fear of the unknown, also a tiger, and the opening sequence of this week’s show features a “man” eating tiger. Of course the brilliant shot of the youngster’s blood stained shoe was never beaten in the rest of the episode or the series for that matter, but the feline predator does make an appearance later on in this show.

This week has Chuck gunning for Ronnie, literally, since he believes that Lana was murdered by the drug pusher of Pretty Lake. It also has a contrite, at first, Wiley thanking Adam for saving her life. This feeling of gratitude does not last long and changes to anger when, saving her life once again, Adam inadvertently blows up the girl’s money.

The kids of the quarantined town have learned that burning the bodies got them nothing but video coverage on the news. The Prime Minister shows the footage and then reveals that there is something in the air at Pretty Lake so, despite the promise made last week, the fence will stay up. Not long after this announcement the power goes out.

Meanwhile Ronnie asks Stacey, who is having an affair with him, to tell her boyfriend Chuck that he did not kill Lana as he was with her when it happened. She refuses at first and then relents. The two head to town and the second they see Chuck, and his armed goons, she hits Ronnie and lies to Chuck.

Back at the farm, Frannie has been left to milk and feed the cattle on her own. Gord leaves to stop Chuck from killing Ronnie. In a stand-off at the Creeker’s residence, the power is cut and Chuck’s boys all begin firing. Gord is hit and ends up staying in town overnight. The tiger finds its way to the farm and Frannie. She has a life and death confrontation with the animal and emerges the winner.

Adam and Wiley decide to cut the fence and escape now that the power is off. Finding a section with no guards, he makes an opening and they crawl through. Spotting a sign that warns of a minefield, the two stop. She wants to chance it and Adam throws Wiley’s backpack into the field. The instant the bag hits the ground it explodes in a shower of damaged money.

By the end of the episode, Adam and Wiley have gone their separate ways and Chuck has jettisoned his cheating, lying girlfriend. Amanda fesses up to setting the supermarket on fire and Mark finally shows up, driving a beer truck and declaring that he is Santa Claus.

Since Ronnie has been cleared of Lana’s murder, it will surely be only a matter of time before accusatory fingers begin pointing Merk’s way. Wiley has decided to grab the baby and leave her older sister to look after the other children. In a way, the title of Crossing Lines is quite apt. Everyone, it seems, spent the entire episode crossing those boundaries that should be left alone. Although the tiger allegory is also omnipresent in show as well.

It should be mentioned that the best bits of the show were the ones with the tiger in. Especially the battle between the animal and Frances.

There really has not been a whole lot of improvement overall and the show may never make it to a second season. None of the characters are that likable so far and as pointed out before the story has not been set up very well. Still, this is one of those shows that fits the bill if there is absolutely nothing else on the telly.

5 June 2015

Michael Knox-Smith