May 31, 2016

SHOWBUZZDAILY Season Premiere Review: “Scream”


SCREAM:  Monday 11PM on MTV

New showrunners (Michael Gans and Richard Register) or not, Season 2 of MTV’s series version of the Wes Craven/Kevin Williamson movie franchise SCREAM faces the same structural challenge as the first:  slasher movie stories were never meant to be told over 10 hours.  The rollercoaster ride sensation of the movies is impossible to sustain–there are just too many episodes and too few series regulars to kill–so the show has to concentrate on characters and plot, which are not traditionally the strong points of the genre.  The result in Season 1 was both gimmicky and routine, asking us to care about the romance between Final Girl Emma (Willa Fitzgerald) and Kieran (Amadeus Serafini), for example, or between Brooke (Carlson Young) and Jake (Tom Maden), while also counting the number of red herrings it could place on the head of its pin.

Gans and Register, who wrote the Season 2 premiere (directed by Brian Dannelly) have tried to change things around a bit.  They meta’d-up the trope of the killer’s opening phone call, turning that into a scene from a movie at the local Lakewood multiplex, and held the episode’s actual murder (of Jake; sorry, Brooke) until the last few minutes.  There’s also a bit of carryover interest from the final twist of Season 1, which revealed that Audrey (Bex Taylor-Klaus) was actually working with the main killer Piper.  It appears as though that will be a main plot impetus of Season 2, as someone who is presumably a new killer starts stalking Audrey via text and creepy phone calls to taunt her with knowledge of her crimes.  Eventually we might even find out what Audrey did and why, beyond quick cuts to a letter she wrote Piper saying “We are both outcasts.”

But none of that erased the dreariness of the surrounding plot, which will apparently feature yet more backstory about Emma’s family history (something to do with a pig farm), or the repetition of Noah’s (John Karna) invocation of every identifiable horror convention and cliche.  The machinery grinds loudly as the premiere introduced new characters/suspects in students Zoe (Kiana Lede) and Gustavo (Santiago Segura), the latter the son of new sheriff Acosta (Anthony Ruivivar), along with seemingly sympathetic psychology teacher Karen Lang (Austin Highsmith).

The solution to Scream‘s problems, of course, would be to draw its characters and story with genuine originality and distinctiveness–as, say, Banshee did with its pulp premise–but that would be a different show.  Despite its creative shuffle, MTV has decided to stick with the one it had, even though the first season underperformed badly after a flood of hype.  This time, the network is trying it out at 11PM on Mondays, so that it can have Teen Mom, one of MTV’s few remaining hits, as a lead-in.  That might work to an extent, but creatively, Scream is still nothing to shout about.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."