Cordon – **(*)

Posted: May 21, 2015 in 2014, Drama, Flanders, Horror, Thriller, TV series, XX1/2
Tags: ,

Later this year, the CW will broadcast an American remake of a successful Flemish virus-outbreak show. The trailer was posted online a few days ago and looks promising (see below).

Time to have a look at the original series !

I only recently ‘discovered’ the show (on dvd). I knew it was being made a few years ago, but I somehow missed the whole buzz when it was shown on tv. I never read about it and nobody in my circle of friends or family mentioned it. There are so many local television series nowadays that I can’t keep track of them all. It was a success though (900.000 viewers for an area that only has 6 million inhabitants is good), but it didn’t really win any awards.

But this American remake got me intrigued. If a big network wants to buy the rights to a local tv show, there must be something original about it, right?

It will be interesting to see what elements the American version will keep and what storylines and characters they changed. The really cool thing about this show is that it is set in Antwerp. I mean, virus outbreaks in movies and tv shows happen all over the world but not in Flanders. Ever. So, to have the story take place so close to home makes it extra thrilling. I’m heading there tomorrow, so I’ll be on my guard if I hear someone cough. lol. (the American version is set in Atlanta)

Two staff workers of an institute that examines viruses and epidemics die a quick death after having been exposed to an unknown virus. Thanks to video footage the police can trace the possible origins to an illegal immigrant who came to the centre to get some injections. The government acts quickly and blocks off an entire area around the research centre. It’s quite a large area of some thousand inhabitants. But there’s also a prison, several offices, a shopping district, etc… The cordon sanitaire (a term used to quarantine certain people) will initially last only 48 hours, but that gets prolonged by three days and then a week and then another one…. Both inside and outside the contained area tensions rise.

The story is well written, not because it’s so unique or unpredictable, but because it doesn’t just focus on the virus. It tackles all kinds of issues that might arise should a situation like this happen in real life. The role of the (social) media, the control of the government, the fight for survival, the psychological effects, … The build-up is great. The first two episodes set the story and introduce the many characters, the next episodes are exciting from start to finish.

However, by episode seven it already feels like the finale will not be the highlight of the show. The story becomes a mess, just like the chaos that occurs within the story’s contained area. By the time you start the last episode you’ve already lost interest in knowing how it will end. Maybe the American remake will spread the story over a few seasons. Maybe the cast of the CW version will act better as well. The Flemish version has a few locally famous actors, but they are all underperforming (apart from the underrated Wouter Hendrickx and Tom Dewisepelaere). The rest of the characters are portrayed by newcomers or amateurs. They aren’t necessarily doing a bad job, they just didn’t get enough time to rehearse or redo some takes.

The original series is going to be shown on Channel Four (in the UK), but I don’t think the dvd box will be sold in the US. It has English subtitles though.

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