Our frustration with so-called “elevated horror” and television tripe like American Horror Story made us really tentative toward even giving this series a try. Luckily, we overcame our fears of it being pablum and discovered something truly unsettling.
The beauty of Channel Zero is that each season is short — six episodes with the same cast — and only shares thematic elements with one another. So far, the three seasons have explored the dangers of clinging too strongly to the past and whether your blood kin or adopted network of friends makes for the healthier family unit. Oh yeah — they also share the simple fact that the world as we know it is not the reality that actually exists.
The first season, Candle Cove, is based on a creepypasta written by Kris Straub. The title refers to a TV series that could only be seen by certain children while others would only see static. The more the series was watched, the more it began intruding into the real world. As the children grew up, they wondered if they were the only ones who knew about Candle Cove, like the episode that just consisted of the main characters screaming in fear.
Within the show, famous child psychologist Mike Painter (Paul Schneider, Parks and Recreation) has been having intense nightmares about the show, which may have only lasted for two months, but ended in the abduction and murder of several of his brother and several of their friends. Now that he’s returned to Iron Hill, the show has started attempting to return. And oh yeah — there’s a creature called the Tooth Child that is a sentient being made completely of he teeth that have been sacrificed by possessed children.
That’s what I meant when I said that this is an unsettling show. It’s surreal at turns, but it’s not afraid to be ominous and doom-laden with little to no escape valve. Even the cute puppets of the show become brutal when the Jawbone the pirate crosses over into the real world. And as the children of the town become more malevolent, Mike’s sanity — already frayed a psychotic break — slips and the children he grew up with begin to suspect that he’s behind the madness that has returned to their town.
That said — I’ve heard talk that people think the performances weren’t great for the first season. I disagree — it never took me out of the show. And I absolutely adored the art direction, as the show within a show reminds me of the Krofft shows of my youth.
I don’t want to reveal much more. This is too delicious to spoil. The reveal of the true killer — and true evil — of the story surprised me. We’ve been on board for Channel Zero for every season now, buying the box sets and watching them in a day or less. Now, Shudder has picked up the entire series, playing one season each month for the next few months. It’s exciting that a bigger audience can now see this show and I’m excited to discuss each season! Feel free to treat the comments below as a spoiler-laden zone where we can freely talk about this awesome show!