A Eulogy For ‘Zoo,’ Television’s Craziest Show

10.24.17 22 Comments

Zoo is dead because it was too beautiful to live. Also, because it got bad ratings. But mostly that first thing. Probably. Just let me have this. I’m grieving.

That the show even lasted three seasons is kind of a miracle. It was insane. I mean truly, profoundly, gloriously insane. What started as a show about animals mutating and trying to overthrow the human race mutated itself into a show about secret siblings with decades-old vendettas shooting planes out of the sky after their original plots were foiled, even though their original plots involved 60-foot-long invisible Peruvian snakes.

And as that happened, the way I consumed it mutated too, from ironically hate-watching it into legitimately enjoying it. Once the show realized what it was and what it was doing, it became so much fun. Anything was possible. Plots were tossed aside the instant they lost value, characters were killed off and then never mentioned again, the laws of science and storytelling were bent and broken. It was freeing, in a way, watching a show that just cackled at anyone who tried to make sense of it. It’s almost perfect that the show ended on a cliffhanger involving a remote-controlled jumbo jet crashing through a barrier for reasons that were only somewhat clear at best. It died as it lived, creating rubble and confusion.

I could go on (and on and on, as anyone who listened to the entire podcast I did on the show with Vox’s Caroline Framke can attest), but there’s really only one way to eulogize a show like Zoo properly, and that is by listing a bunch of the craziest stuff it did.

Below, please find my ten favorite moments. It says a lot about this show that I never even mentioned the Slovenia dog ambush. Because that was also something that happened. What a show.

10. The time a character said the greatest line of dialogue in television history

We start at the beginning, in season one, with the moment I got hooked on the show. Look at those words, just unfurling on the screen piece-by-piece like a beautiful flower revealing its petals.

“I don’t know which was worse… being attacked by lions… or discovering my sister is sleeping with my fiancé.”

Perfect. Also, the answer is definitely “being attacked by lions.”

9. The time a pack of wolves broke a mass murderer out of prison

My favorite part of this was that you’d think, after orchestrating a wolf-led jailbreak to free this guy, he would have become an important character on the show, possibly some sort of big bad who speaks to animals and terrorizes our heroes. Nope. He was killed off a few episodes later and never mentioned again. Zoo was the greatest.

Also, I say this every time I post this GIF, but it’s way funnier if you pretend the button the guard smashes at the end is labeled “WOLVES,” like they had seen this coming when they built the system.

8. The time kamikaze bats killed two Britpop-loving bird scientists in Antarctica

A quick rundown:

  • Two married bird scientists were living in a remote laboratory in Antarctica
  • A swarm of bats flew down to terrorize them, for reasons
  • One of the bats flew face-first into their generator to knock out the power
  • The bats all sat on the solar panel to block the sun from reaching it and supplying power
  • The scientists froze to death in each other’s arms while listening to “Don’t Look Back in Anger” by Oasis on repeat


7. The time a group of peopWHOOAAAA GORILLA

I’m gonna be honest here: I have zero recollection of this moment or why it happened. I suppose I could go back and look it up, but I feel like that kind of defeats the purpose of the show. A gorilla charged through the lobby of a fancy building and started banging on the door of an elevator. Let’s just roll with that.

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