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EXPANDING YOUR MIND

by Benjamin Carr

Monsters take all shapes and sizes on television, but an influx of traditional scary creatures have invaded screens recently. And though there is a mix of bloodsuckers and the bewitched, the most frightening characters are altogether human.

THE PASSAGE
(Fox)

This saga, based upon Justin Cronin's series of novels, stars Mark-Paul Gosselaar as a government operative charged with delivering an orphan named Amy to an experimental medical facility for devious experiments. As the world faces a pandemic, the facility is charged with creating a cure out of recently discovered vampire blood and wants to test it out on Amy, yet the vampires they've already created as test subjects are beyond control. Amy narrates at the beginning of the series, "This is the way the world ends."

Young actress Saniyya Sidney has an excellent presence and is full of energy and spunk. Mark-Paul Gosselaar does solid work and their banter provides the series that is heavy and dark with heart.

The rest of the series is a mix of PG-13 horror and exposition, for the novels that the series is based upon span 90 years of a vampire apocalypse. But, given time, this show should come together and provide a thrilling ride.

A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES
(Sundance Now)

This British miniseries available on demand is based upon the books by Deborah Harkness. It concerns a romance between a reluctant witch named Diana and Matthew and a repentant vampire who are facing with a threat to life as they know it.

When Diana, a historian visiting Oxford, discovers a long-hidden manuscript that holds the key to the origin of vampires, she finds herself the target of all sorts of supernatural creatures who want to destroy witches and vampires forever. In a Twilight-level twist, the vampire Matthew finds himself both drawn to crave her and compelled to protect her.

Though Teresa Palmer and Matthew Goode are terrific actors generally, they have very little chemistry as the romantic leads in this series. It contains very little spark and tension in its opening hours. The endeavor, filled with monsters and magic, is painfully dull.

YOU (Netflix)

Quite the opposite of a humdrum romance, YOU - which originally aired on Lifetime but now is a Netflix exclusive - is a compelling, terrifying, highly bingeworthy series about Joe, a bookstore manager and emotionally messed-up stalker who becomes obsessed with a young writer named Beck after one brief, flirty conversation.

Penn Badgley, the star of Gossip Girl, is absolutely terrific and terrifying as Joe, who turns into a creep from the start. The viewers know almost immediately that Joe is unhinged, so the fun of YOU comes from seeing just how scary and murderous he is going to become over Beck, who remains blissfully unaware of all the danger she's in.

An added joy to this show is its supporting cast, which surrounds poor Beck with all sorts of sketchy people - who makes Joe seem almost normal and decent by comparison. The cast of other creeps includes Shay Mitchell and John Stamos.

YOU is an excellent way to spend time. It's a must-see.

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