Based in Botswana, and on a novel by international best-selling author, James Patterson, Zoo is a new summer show from CBS, which premieres tonight to an anxious audience. Jackson Oz is an American zoologist portrayed by James Wolk, an actor who is most famous for his work on Mad Men. The premise of the show is violent animals striking back at mankind due to anger for having been subjugated to their dominion for thousands of years. The trailer depicts a theory that animal behavior is changing significantly and that they are able to communicate with each other from far distances.
The first season of the show is expected to bring 13 hours of excitement and fun. The mystery of the wild animals spreads across six continents and is likely to instill fear in viewers. Similarly to Jurassic World – the movie with the biggest box office weekend to date – the storyline follows hysteria in the population and a need to restore order that has been altered by animal creatures.
The advocacy group, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), has come out against the show’s premise, saying that it exploits wild animals. They claim that this premise is especially insensitive when laws all across America are being sought for the protection of wild animals, such as banning wild animal ownership and ending the use of wild animals at circuses and amusement parks. Additionally, PETA is speaking out about the practice of CBS not using Computer Generated Imagery (CGI), but rather real animals. PETA has protested the use of real animals for the filming of the show. As a retort, the Zoo‘s co-executive producer, Scott Rosenberg, said that the goal of the main characters is to heal the animals, not necessarily save the world. Rosenberg also said that the intention of the show is in no way to vilify animals.
For the anxious audience awaiting Zoo, which premieres tonight, it is interesting to know that Jeff Pinkner, executive producer of the show, references the premise of the show as similar to The Birds by Alfred Hitchcock, only on a much larger scale. However, the roots of the show derive from the strange behavior of real animals, such as the jumping fish in Michigan, and the odd behavior of alligators in Florida. Although executive producer Cathy Konrad originally sought to make this project into a movie, it was produced as a television show because there was so much great material possible. Fans of the book should expect the series to be a little different but, according to Patterson, “the series is going to be better than the book.”
Like all shows, this one too must prove its value in viewership and advertising dollars, yet writers of the show have already created headlines for five seasons of Zoo, and have articulated that the series will end in a different place than the book. The show was shot in New Orleans with no standing sets. Because the story line moves to locations around the world, the simulation of other locations was challenging but allegedly, extremely convincing. Members of the cast include Nonso Anozie from The Grey and Cinderella, Nora Arnezender from Safe House, Billy Burke from the Twilight series, and Kristen Connolly from The Cabin in the Woods.
Critics, such as Linda Holmes of NPR and Gail Pennington of the Saint Louis Post-Dispatch, among others, expect the show to be ridiculously cheesy with a hint of fun. Meanwhile, Zoo premieres tonight to a curious audience, and the CBS network is anxious for good viewership numbers.
By Olivia Uribe-Mutal
Edited By Jennifer Pfalz
Time–James Wolk: Zoo Is TV’s Answer to Jurassic Park
NPR–‘Zoo’: Welcome, Crazypants Television of Summer!
Variety–PETA Protesting Use of Real Animals in CBS’ ‘Zoo’
Collider–13 Things to Know About Zoo
Image Courtesy of Wenzday01’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License