Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Caught Up in "Zoo"

(This blog was originally posted on September 8, 2016)

Photo by Rick Hustead

In 2015, James Patterson’s best-selling novel, Zoo, was brought to life as a prime-time television series courtesy of CBS. I had read and (mostly) enjoyed the novel. I was skeptical about how it would fare on television; specifically, would the producers and writer stay true to the original premise of the book whereby animals around the world started attacking and killing all the humans. In the book (spoiler alert), the animals’ pheromones trigger the assaults; the TV series featured a chemical in various pet foods that was to blame for this aberrant behavior. Both story-lines have an animals-finally-take-their-revenge theme. Sometimes it even feels good (Schadenfreude) to see/read how the “bad guys” get their comeuppance in the jaws of an African lion or a carriage horse runs away with the CEO of said pet-food company on board with his date. But, of course, a lot of innocent lives are lost in all this mayhem and the question remains: Can our hero/heroes save the day and the world by finding a cure for whatever is afflicting Earth’s fauna?
In my opinion, the television version of Zoojumped the shark” early this season as more and more outrageous (or, are they?) plot twists and characters that never existed in the book started showing up. To summarize: CBS’s version has animal/human hybrids (think werewolf-like creatures) with super-human strength—apparently this creature is the next stage of evolution of the bizarre virus/chemical that has infected the animals on our humble planet. Even the animals are afraid of these human-animal hybrids.) Then we find out that a genetic mutation is what actually has caused the behavior and monstrous transformations—and another character intentionally infected his son and wife with something that seems to have triggered this response. Or is it a cure? Meanwhile, a pride of saber-toothed cats still exists on a remote island whose blood would (theoretically) yield a cure to suppress this gene. But, can our intrepid heroes just get hold of that sample in time to save the world and evade that pack of hyena/wolf/ambiguous-scaly lizard-hybrids that are also stalking them. There are many more subplots going on and some of them are too complicated to explain in this blog. I started watching the series out of skeptical curiosity last year and was thoroughly fed up by the season finale on Tuesday night.
Eventually, very little of what went on in the series made sense; yet it made perfect sense in the context of being an entertaining yet slightly nonsensical, pseudo-scientific program. And no matter how hard I tried to resist getting “involved” with all that silliness, somehow, the more outrageous the plot became, the more interested (and hooked) I got, too. Fortunately, my training and experience as a hypnotherapist enabled me to see right through all of the hypnotic modalities the script-writers employed to engage viewers, which I also allowed myself to fall for. Here is my list of all the gimmicks that made Zoo such an addictive show for me:
·         All of the cast are attractive, which makes their incredible plight somehow “believable” and even credible in the context of this program. Also, their backstories and personalities are interesting enough to engage viewers and inspire a variety of emotions about their plight so that we can become emotionally invested in what happens to them.
·         The characters are all (conveniently) some kind of expert in his or her professional field and can talk their way into any government meeting/conference, laboratory or black-tie fete whenever needed. They use plenty of scientific terms and language that sounds legitimate enough to viewers that the theoretical models even make temporary sense. Indeed, all that technical jargon just rolls out of their mouths like they were placing an order at McDonald’s.
·         They even dress “appropriately” for their roles. One of the biologist/animal experts is always wearing a long oilskin coat, the government agent flashes relevant credentials whenever needed and, the Army Ranger totes a semi-automatic rifle or pistol everywhere she goes. The intrepid reporter who uncovered the animal-food conspiracy typically has some kind of computer or electronic device on her so she can hack into any kind of web-site or security system. Finally, the group of malevolent military personnel and scientists intent on taking over the world are all clad in uniforms that boast an impressive number of stripes and insignia, or white lab coats to intimidate and suggest authority.
·         There is always plenty of action—conflicts between the humans—or animal attacks/threats of animal attacks to keep viewers engaged with the story and wondering what will happen next to provide a significant sensory overload. Whether lovers are quarreling, the military is plotting world-wide domination, sons are negotiating with long-lost, absentee fathers or hostages are fending off attacks by ravenous polar bears, something is always going on.

Zoo featured all of the ingredients that make a fun hour or two of escape from reality. I, for one, actually hope it comes back next season so I can find out what really happened to poor Dr. Morgan…

Sara R. Fogan, C.Ht. is a certified hypnotherapist based in Southern California. She graduated with honors from the Hypnosis Motivation Institute in 2005. For more information about Calminsense Hypnotherapy® and to set up an appointment, please visit http://www.calminsensehypnotherapy.com/.
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