With Thrills and Chills, Swamp Thing Is DC Universe's Best Drama Series Yet

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Swamp Thing is a big swing for DC Universe, the relatively new streaming service which is already home to live-action hits such as Titans and Doom Patrol. 

The latest series has been a highly-anticipated horror drama from the streamer, but when reports emerged that production was getting halted after production on 10 of the 13 episodes, concerns about the finished product started to emerge. 

Beware the Swamp

Those concerns are swiftly put to rest after screening the first two episodes on which the characters are put through the wringer.

There's a lot to love about a series that delivers genuinely shocking twists with a solid script, first-rate acting, and an atmospheric look that would leave many summer blockbusters looking terrible in comparison.  

Related: Swamp Thing Production Ending Early

The cinematic look definitely elevates Swamp Thing above most other TV shows releasing this summer. 

Crystal Reed lights up the screen as Abby Arcane, a CDC doctor who returns home to investigate the life-threatening epidemic plaguing her hometown of Houma, Louisiana.

Abby Arkane Faces the Swamp

Abby's drive to save the town comes from her longing to make up for the sins of the past. Not everyone is happy with Abby's return because of her haunting past. It may sound cliché, but the way it is handled on-screen is surprisingly fresh. 

Virginia Madsen plays Maria Sunderland, the mother of Abby's childhood friend. Maria is struggling to come to terms with the death of her daughter. 

Maria is willing to go to any lengths necessary to feel close to her child again, and that might put her on a collision course with her husband. 

Maria is one of Abby's biggest adversaries. She wants Abby to leave town and never return. 

Abby Ventures into the Swamp

There's a history between them, but what's fascinating about their limited scenes together in the initial episodes is that they don't need to speak to say a lot. 

The body language from Reed and Madsen says it all. There's a lot of pain there, and that's also a testament to the phenomenal acting on display from both actresses.

Related: Swamp Thing Trailer: DC Universe Turns to Horror

Maria is so consumed by darkness after everything that she's been through that it seems inevitable someone (probably Abby), will help her see that there's more to life than letting the darkness overcome her.

All roads seemingly lead to the swamp, and it's a solid setting for a show that is all about using darkness as ammunition to scare the living daylights out of viewers. 

The swamp itself is essentially a character of its own, and that's before we even get to the superhero living beyond the waters. 

The Truth is Out There

Yes, this is DC Universe, so of course there's a hero. I want you to go into this and be surprised by all of the twists, so I'm going to hold fire on chatting about the hero until I post the episodic reviews. 

Alec Holland is one of few people who understand what Abby is trying to achieve during her time back home. 

He's also a sketchy man with a watchful eye on everything that's going down ... even if he's not supposed to be looking into it. 

It makes sense then that these two characters are drawn to each other. Abby is so desperate to move on from the past that Alec appears as her beacon of hope.

When everyone in town knows your secrets, it's good to have someone who knows nothing about you. That's why their scenes together work so well. 

Searching for the Truth

But Alec lives right above the mysterious swamp, meaning that he witnesses the odd things that happen on a daily basis, further fueling his suspicions. 

It's difficult to convincingly make two people understand one another on a personal level after a handful of scenes, but the series opener, which was penned by creators Mark Verheiden and Gary Dauberman, does that with ease. 

Related: Titans Season 1 Episode 1 Review: Titans

Verheiden has worked on drama series for much of his career, while Dauberman is most well-known for writing the Annabelle movies, The Nun, and even  has a co-writing credit on the 2017 adaptation of It. 

The two are a match made in TV heaven. It's difficult to make horrors (TV or Movies) believable, but these two writers are masters of their craft, and the result is a striking series that sets up storylines and horrors that could go on for several years. 

Ian Ziering and Crystal Reed on Swamp Thing

The look of the series is dark and moody. It's fair to assume that a show shrouded in darkness would leave viewers needing a break between sittings, but that couldn't be further from the case. 

The action plays out at such a breakneck pace that the episodes feel like they are over mere moments after they begin. 

Titans and Doom Patrol have had their time to shine and convince audiences that DC Universe is the go-to destination for big-budget dramas that feature some of the comic book world's most beloved characters. 

In an unprecedented feat, Swamp Thing actually towers above both of those live-action series with more intriguing characters and a focused central mystery. 

Swamp Thing debuts on DC Universe Friday, May 31. Return to TV Fanatic every Friday for episodic reviews. 

For now, have a look at the Swamp Thing trailer below. 

Review

Editor Rating: 5.0 / 5.0
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Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.

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