FX, Sundays, 10 p.m.
Three episodes in, The Strain’s biggest problem is that it’s yet to become infectious. What made Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan’s book trilogy—about parasitic vampires with mouth stingers akin to Alien’s Xenomorphs—so addictive were the engaging characters slaying vampires amid personal tragedy. Good, popcorn fun. The novels have a large ensemble cast and it’s taking The Strain quite some time to introduce them all—let alone give them due time—and the story is unraveling perhaps too slowly. For those who’ve read the books, it’s clear things are ramping up, but those coming to the series fresh may find the pace discouraging. There’s hope, however, in the form of creepy visuals, imaginative scares and a great cast—Kevin Durand is intimidating and hilarious as the heart-of-gold exterminator Vasiliy Fet, and Jack Kesy’s less-than-glamorous rock star Gabriel Bolivar is straight off the page. They’re still largely teasing the monster’s reveal, and the chilling images—a young girl’s face partially submerged in milky white water with a thin trickle of blood drawing toward her lips—are so frighteningly reminiscent of the book that I’m hopeful that, given time, FX will deliver enough angst-ridden vamp slaying by screwed-up characters that even Buffy will take note.