The new series, based on Dan Simmons’s historical horror novel, blew onto AMC last week, and continues Monday. The Terror presents a fictionalized dramatization of the Franklin Expedition’s final months, and includes an element not found in any history book….

Titles: “Go For Broke” and “Gore”

Directed by Edward Berger

Written by David Kajganich, Andres Fischer-Centeno, Josh Parkinson, and Vinnie Wilhelm
From the novel by Dan Simmons

Cast
Jared Harris as Francis Crozier
Tobias Menzies as James Fitzjames
Ciarán Hinds as John Franklin
Paul Ready as Henry Goodsir
Adam Nagaitis as Cornelius Hickey
Greta Scacchi as Lady Jane Franklin
Ian Hart as Thomas Blanky
Tom Weston-Jones as Lt. Graham Gore
Sebastian Armesto as Charles Des Voeux
Edward Ashley as William Gibson
Ronan Raftery as Lt. John Irving
Charles Edwards as Dr. McDonald
John Lynch as John Bridgens
Richard Riddell as Sgt. David Bryant
Christos Lawton as Lt. George Hodgson
Alistair Petrie as Dr. Stanley
Jack Colgrave Hirst as Thomas Hartnell
Nive Nielsen as Lady Silence
Kevin Guthrie as Henry Peglar
Sian Brooke as Sophia Cracroft
Mike Kelly as John Gregory
Anthony Flanagan as John Morfin
Owen Good as Charles Best
Matthew McNulty as Little
Apayata Kotierk as Shaman

Premise

In 1845, Franklin led a new expedition to the Arctic in order to find the Northwest Passage to the Pacific. The crews of both ships, the Erebus and the Terror, were never seen again. Parks Canada and the Arctic Research Foundation only found the ships in this century.

The Terror imagines what might have happened.

High Point

The script and acting demonstrate the horrifying dangers these men face without resorting to overacting or excess. Even the monster’s brief appearance doesn’t feel out of place. The actors with understated power realize, increasingly, the dangerous arrogance that led them up against nature at its harshest.

They will not win this conflict. The question is, how will they die?

Low Point

The first two episodes move as slowly as ships in arctic ice.

The Scores

Originality: 2/6 The series adapts an existing novel in which some explorers encounter an unknown horror near the poles. Simmons modified the familiar genre premise by placing his polar terror in the context of an otherwise realistically-rendered account of actual history.
Effects: 6/6 I can only imagine the amount of CGI and effects used to turn studios and locations in Europe into the arctic. I could not, with any certainty, identify how much might be real.

Story: 5/6

Acting: 6/6 AMC loves strong acting, and this show lives up to the standard. The cast includes alumni of both Game of Thrones and Mad Men. And, though the principal character have obvious distinguishing traits, it will take time to really understand these people– before they die a cold and lonely death.

Emotional Response: 5/6 Given how much these people endure, I’m not certain this story needs a literal monster.

Production: 6/6

Overall: 5/6 No, we still don’t have the replacement for Game of Thrones, but The Terror contains much to recommend it.

In total, The Terror‘s first two episodes receive 35/42