Amazon's original new series, Panic, an adaptation of a popular YA novel of the same name by Lauren Oliver, premiered recently…and I struggle with wanting to continue if another season arrives. The potential I saw in this series going into it was fairly good. It had a unique sense of tension filling the storyline, an opposing energy alongside the themes in stories like The Hunger Games. With the concept of small-town high school seniors looking to find a feasible way of leaving their small town after graduation, we still have many small cliché moments with it as well. From the relationship Heather has with her mother, a woman stuck inside a life of a downward spiral of her hometown, to the white trash douchebag character archetype found in Ray, concepts of small-town Americana aren't something shows seem to care to carry audiences away from after a year of hardship and economic turmoil.
I wasn't intrigued right away, led in initially by the promising description of a "thrilling" series, and felt myself drifting away in my thoughts and towards my phone. The acting, especially on part of Olivia Welch, who plays the previously mentioned Heather character, was fairly decent and in serious moments of anger or rage towards her own predicaments became something worth watching. The series could have moved at a better pace than it did. I would have loved to have seen more involved in the background for the main teens we follow throughout. Exposition didn't have to take what felt like a lifetime, not every piece of information needed to be withheld like a government secret. It's not bad to give the audience some crumbs of info once in a while to keep the interest going.
When you get around to around the third episode it slightly picks up, at least in terms of maintaining attention spans. While the idea of pacing out episodes similar to chapters in a book can be fun for some shows, it felt annoying to do so with Panic. Just because it's an adaptation doesn't mean you should treat it in such an isolated way…the story could do so much more and it's frustrating to see such creative opportunity go to waste in areas. There's far too much invested in a reality of danger that doesn't invite anything beyond, such as supernatural or mysterious based on the characters and their surroundings. It becomes a weird combination between the Saw franchise, The Hunger Games, and The Real World. And it feels as if the rich people from the "Purge" films got bored and attempted to woo poor college students with money so they could watch them play a messy version of American Ninja Warrior & Fear Factor.
Watching conventionally attractive twenty-somethings play graduated high school seniors felt overused and didn't help me get invested right away as it could have. I'm always down for a good thriller and the stories that come from YA novels can be some great ones, and that was what I expected from Panic. It shouldn't matter if I have read the book or not, as a viewer, it should feel inclusive towards those who haven't experienced the written word. What was on the line for these individuals became more and more evident as episodes chugged along. Well-paced scenes alongside an uneven story progression made an intriguing concept simply and unfairly made boring. While this series wasn't a complete miss, it almost became that way if it weren't for the acting, some fantastic shots, and an editing team that evidently tried their best with what they were given. In the end, Panic was enjoyable and a series watchable in passing the time but not as a staple going forward for the Amazon platform.
Britt's Rating: 6.5/10
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