The Purge TV Show
Sept 4th - Nov 6th 2018 - 10 episodes
Oct 15th - Dec 17th 2019 10 episodes
Warning: Very mild spoilers.
Okay, so I quite like the majority of The Purge movies because the old school sci-fi concept is sound and they manage to do something a little different with each one. In terms of turning this film series of sci-fi thrillers into a TV show goes... I was not optimistic. Not all but, most TV adaptations of successful movies are generally soaped up, pale shades of their source material but, I figured I’d maybe give the first episode of The Purge TV show a go just in case.
Well, I was so surprised by this. Not only are both series absolutely brilliant and just as scary as the movies, they also manage to do something slightly different from each other and I really loved this show. Both seasons are connected only by the concept of The Purge and Dermot Mulroney pops up in both as a DJ presenter, pumping up his listeners to go out into the streets to purge. And the main cast of characters on each season is completely different from the other, with no other connects and with very different storylines.
The first season does more or less what you think it will do and it mostly takes place on a purge night (both seasons are set somewhere between the second and third movie). This one sets up a few major character strands...
So most of the first episode is set within a few hours before the Annual Purge. We have Jessica Garza as Penelope. She has sent her ex-marine brother a note, basically saying good bye as she is part of a religious cult who drive around on purge night in a bus, giving themselves to purgers as a sacrifice (and, of course, you know her mindset on that issue is going to change once she is in the thick of it and discovers the corruption and real motive behind the cult). Then we have her brother Miguel, played by Gabriel Chavarria, who is it on the streets trying to track down his sister before she gets killed.
We next have a young couple played by Hannah Emily Anderson and Colin Woodell, who are invited to a purge party by the National Founding Fathers (the NFF, a political power who created and implement the annual purge) and they accept because they need to get money for their company from the man running the party. They once had an awkward sexual threesome with a girl played by Lili Simmons, who they think is in another country but she’s not, she’s at the party... and she’s the daughter of the man they are depending on for financing.
And then there’s a young, ambitious office worker played by Amanda Warren, who is working with her colleagues in a locked down office building on purge night but who has arranged a ‘hit by proxy’ on her boss (played by William Baldwin). Something she now regrets and wants to prevent.
Finally, there’s a guy called Joe, played by Lee Tergesen. He is fully kitted out for purge night and is going around rescuing various people on his special list and taking them to safety... including, it turns out, all of the characters I’ve mentioned so far. However, as you might expect, he has a slightly more sinister motivation for his actions and, by the final couple of episodes, it turns out he’s an even bigger threat than some of the horrendous, violent individuals the other come into contact with throughout the night.
So, yeah, the next nine episodes of series one are basically playing out like a Purge movie except there’s more time to explore various concepts like a ‘kill carnival’, a raid on a ‘purge party’ and a sexualised trap for women etc. The cinematography and lighting is all great and, yeah, it feels dangerous. My only real problem with the first season was the constant flashbacks to the sexual threesome because, bizarrely, everyone is naked but you don’t actually see anybody’s sexual organs. It just looks unnatural and wrong and I wish they had just alluded to it instead of pretending to show it because, yeah, this is how not to do a sex scene in a TV show or movie. The violence is pretty gruesome though, it has to be said, possibly more so than the movies, if you're into that element of it.
As you would expect, some of these characters survive the purge, others don’t and, after a brief wind up so that you can see what any survivors are doing in the wake of the purge followed by a quick lead in showing what two of them are up to for the next purge, the show ends. And its brilliant but, rather than continuing with these surviving characters, the second show does something different again.
Okay, so three quarters of the first episode of season two takes place over the last two hours of purge night, where the main characters are initially set up...
There’s Esme, played by Paola Nuñez. She is part of a government group who monitors the purge from an office of screens to ensure nothing illegal (well, more illegal) takes place and nothing goes against the accepted rules. However, she sees something amiss which ultimately leads to finding information that the NFF are basically killing people ‘off-purge’ because of certain psychological findings about the national holiday and she ends up as America’s most wanted fugitive for her trouble. With all her surveillance equipment and her paranoia, it starts off in similar territory to Francis Ford Coppola’s film The Conversation before, turning into something far more worrying.
Then we have Joel Allen who is out on purge when he doesn’t want to be, is left behind by his college room mate and almost gets killed. However, killing his assailant leads to an addiction to violence and he becomes an off-purge serial killer for the rest of the series.
We have Marcus, played by Derek Luke and his wife. Someone has put a ‘purge bounty’ out on Marcus but, will he find out who and somehow be able to get it removed before the next annual purge?
And finally we have Ryan, played by Max Martini. He and his ex-cop colleagues are bank robbers (they don’t want to kill but want to legally steal as much money as they can each purge). Something goes wrong in the first episode for them, which leads to an elabourate plan that takes the next year to finesse, ostensibly to get the haul of their lives but, there are other complications too.
And it’s another humdinger of a show. Unlike the first season, where all the character strands converge for the final two episodes, this one has the different strands often rubbing together and crossing paths but never quite all at the same time... although the aftermath of a tragic event where my two favourite characters are killed in the last episode certainly joins up a lot of them and their surrounding co-stars.
The real difference of the second season, though, is that most of the episodes take place in the year between two purges. So after the climax of one purge, it’s not actually until right at the end of episode seven that the next one commences, leaving the last two installments to play out like a standard purge movie but with all the background of the characters developed before hand. And, once again, it shows us different aspects of the purge and what people do when they’re not purging, such as elaborate purge themed game booths where you can virtually kill people or hiring animals to slaughter to vent your violent tendencies between the annual holidays.
Another nice thing about the second season is that each starts off with a pre-credits scene which has nothing to do with the main story and shows us a different aspect of The Purge. For the first one, for example, the lady who provides the regular voice-over ‘yearly introductory warning’ to the event is seen auditioning for the voice role and questioning her lines. Another one in the last episode, set just before the first purge, has a nice little cameo from Ethan Hawke, reprising the ill fated character he played in the first movie. And generally, most of these intro sequences come off like the satirical scenes in the first Robocop movie (the original, not the stupid remake) and give the show a little more of a dark edge, shot through with some very cynical humour.
And, yeah, that’s me done with The Purge TV show. I wish this show hadn’t been cancelled because it’s just as good as the movies (and in the case of the first and fourth movies, this show is way better). This is something which really does go hand in hand with the film series and, to boot, has the time to explore some of the concepts it brings to the table in a little more detail than the films are able to do. This one had me gripped from the start and, certainly, if you like the movies then I would recommend you take a look at the series too.