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The Terror

The Terror (2018) is the best TV series I’ve watched in a while. Starring Jared Harris, Ciarán Hinds, Tobias Menzies, and Inuk Greenlandic actress Nive Nielsen, it is a fictionalized ten-episode account of Captain Sir John Franklin’s doomed expedition (launched in 1845) to find the Northwest Passage. Based on Dan Simmons’ novel of the same name, the series is rooted in realism and absorbs a number of discoveries and theories by search expeditions sent to locate the men and their ships, the HMS Erebus and HMS Terror. These include cans of food which caused lead poisoning, reports from Eskimos who encountered crew members and burial sites, and signs of cannibalism. Oh, but wait, there’s an Eskimo death god, too, and it has taken form as an enormous indomitable polar bear to wreak havoc and suck out souls. So while the show comes across as an accurate period piece and appears to capture the reality for these 129 men trying to survive years in the Arctic, a splash of horror (“the creature” Tuunbaq) has been added because, hey, who can say for sure none of them were actually killed by a monster? The balance between (lots of) realism and (some) fantasy works brilliantly and feels fresh. Excellent writing and acting, and the sets to my non-expert eye were convincing, and looked a bit like Westeros north of Castle Black. Will definitely check out the second season (The Terror: Infamy) coming in August and set in a Japanese internment camp in California, filmed in BC.


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