The premise of ABC Studio’s recent offering The Crossing is simple. Several hundred people wash up on an isolated Oregon beach near a town called Port Canaan. Most are dead but some have survived. The notion of an assumed shipwreck quickly evaporates as no evidence of any lost ships or aircraft can be found. And, the survivors are all yielding a disturbing account of their origins. They all insist they’ve travelled from 180 years in the future – a time when the earth is controlled by a more evolved race of human.
If, like me, you’ve always associated Steve Zahn with generally comedic roles – The Crossing will help change that for you. Zahn has done his fair share of serious roles over the years, but as Jude Ellis (Port Canaan’s sheriff), he seems to operate with a more defined sense of character. His natural quirk is certainly still present but, where in other dramatic performances it may have detracted from the character’s believability, here it only adds to the necessary mystery that hangs around every person in Port Canaan.
And it’s that quality to each of the characters that pulls you in with this show. In that way, creators Dan Dworkin and Jay Beattie have achieved something truly difficult. When you’re working in a space that has been explored so many times before, it’s notoriously difficult to strike a great balance between weird and interesting.
The Crossing achieves this by not allowing itself to be too cool. Unlike über popular sci fi shows such as Stranger Things, the tone here remains sober and the plot pulses along without relent. There’s little to no comic relief, which makes viewing an intense but also strangely satisfying experience. There’s little to no styling – cool blue and green tones underwrite most if not all scenes.
This show is ALL about character and story in a textbook example of the ‘no-one can be trusted’ storyline. Every other scene makes you question everything you’ve learned about characters up to that point. Natalie Martinez and Simone Kessell are wonderfully furtive in their respective roles as Reece (a crossed over survivor with a breakaway plot line) and Rebecca (the DHS agent running the investigation into the survivors). At least through the first two episodes anyway.
I for one am totally sucked in and can’t wait to see where the rest of season one goes.
The Crossing airs on Foxtel’s Showcase on June 25th with a premiere double episode at 10pm.