The Swarm (Der Schwarm)
The creatures of the oceans become aggressive and begin coordinated attacks on humans.
Spoiler Level: Moderate
The Swarm (Der Schwarm), is a German/European Alliance co-production based on a novel of the same name by Frank Schätzing. The first episode starts off with a Peruvian fisherman being attacked by a swarm of fish while trying to free his net stuck on some rocks. From there the story jumps around the globe, focusing on Charlie Wagner (Leonie Benesch), a marine biology student working on her PHD stationed at an outpost in Scotland and Leon Anawak (Joshua Odjick) a whale researcher in Canada investigating the strange and aggressive behavior patterns of the whales migrating off the coast. The episode ends much like it began, with what seemingly appears to be a coordinated attack on a whale watching excursion ship by humpbacks and orca’s working in tandem. The majority of the episode is mainly getting to know all the characters and their relationships.
The production budget for the series is estimated at 40 million euros (approx. $42,000,000.00), which makes it the most expensive German TV production of all time. The series was produced in English but has an international cast and all of them well chosen. There wasn’t a weak performance in the lot. The characters are all flawed but interesting although, with the amount of jumping around in the first episode, it was difficult to connect with any of them. The story is intriguing and the plot fascinating with what appears to be a good mystery at its core. The series has great production value, with some beautiful cinematography, and the music was good and added tension, although there were times it disproportionately added tension without any explanation of what we were supposed to be tense about.
The one problem that seemed to plague the pilot is that there is too much going on without enough of an explanation of what really is happening. In reading the synopsis of the series, it appears that there is a central intelligence behind the strange behaviors, but this isn’t even hinted at in the pilot. The episode is just a bunch of unrelated events of sea life becoming aggressive without even an inkling of why. This made it very hard to both connect with the story and to hook the audience. A story of animals suddenly turning violent isn’t as interesting and could be a deterrent for some audience members, but a plot where a centralized hive mind is causing animals to lash out is much more appealing. The inclusion of a single scene alluding to this would have tied all the individual scenes together.
Overall, the episode was very well produced and acted and there is a bit of excitement in the beginning and the end, and the strange behaviors of the sea life does make for an intriguing mystery for the characters to unravel, but it was missing a cohesive element that could have tied it all together a bit better than it did.
The release date of 3/17/23 is for the US release on Prime Video. The series has already completed its run on various European networks.
I am conflicted about this series. I personally don't like to see animals as the bad guys, but this show has a lot going for it, with interesting characters and a good plot. The pilot episode, I don't think does enough to tie everything together and to hook the audience, but I am intrigued to see how this all plays out.
The Swarm: Rough Seas
- Writing - 9/109/10
- Storyline - 8/108/10
- Acting - 10/1010/10
- Music - 9/109/10
- Production - 9/109/10