Tuesday, September 2, 2014
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Eli Roth's 'Hemlock Grove' live on Netflix

It's probably not the best news for Eli Roth's "Hemlock Grove" that I didn't hate it -- and not just because "didn't hate it" will never make it as a pullout quote in any ad, as much as I might long to see it there.

Eli Roth's 'Hemlock Grove' live on Netflix

Landon Laboiron and Bill Skarsgard in Netflix´s "Hemlock Grove"
Landon Laboiron and Bill Skarsgard in Netflix's "Hemlock Grove"

It's probably not the best news for Eli Roth's "Hemlock Grove" that I didn't hate it -- and not just because "didn't hate it" will never make it as a pullout quote in any ad, as much as I might long to see it there.

But that I, too much of a wimp to have seen Roth's "Hostel" movies, would have made it through three episodes of his new series for Netflix without looking away once suggests the show's target audience might be a little disappointed.Yes, there's some grisly stuff, including the evisceration of a young girl's corpse, but nothing more disturbing, frankly, than you might have seen on NBC in this week's episode of "Hannibal."

Not that that's not plenty disturbing.

What's a little messy about "Hemlock Grove," a murder mystery whose first 13 episodes became available to Netflix subscribers Friday morning, isn't so much the corpses as the oddly paced story and the sometimes eye-rollingly silly dialogue, which occasionally leaves a more than competent cast looking less so.

Worst affected is Famke Janssen, who plays Olivia Godfrey, who appears to be the most powerful woman in the former Pennsylvania steel town of Hemlock Grove, where almost no one, including Olivia, is exactly who he or she might appear.

Olivia's written so one-dimensionally evil, Janssen never really has a chance.

Bill Skarsgard -- brother of Alexander, of "True Blood" fame -- plays Olivia's son Roman, a slightly bored rich kid who strikes up an odd friendship with the latest stranger to come to town, Peter Rumancek (Landon Liboiron). Lili Taylor has a recurring role as Peter's mother. Dougray Scott plays Roman's uncle, Dr. Norman Godfrey, who has a complicated relationship with, well, just about everyone in the show.

Werewolves aren't even close to the weirdest thing about "Hemlock Grove," whose plot I won't even attempt to outline here. Played out on a week-by-week basis on television, it probably wouldn't keep my attention beyond this point. But I could see how, on a rainy Sunday afternoon, I might hit "play" and just see where it takes me.

But unlike "House of Cards," which I watched in the first 36 hours after it was posted, it's unlikely to pull me in this weekend.

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Ellen Gray Daily News TV Critic
About this blog
As the TV critic for the Philadelphia Daily News, I've always believed my job is less about thumbs -- up or down -- and more about the conversation. Because the more choices we have, the fewer people in our lives know what we're talking about when we say, "Did you see that?" And that's when television really starts to get interesting.

Ellen Gray Daily News TV Critic
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