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Good Afternoon

'Zoo' review: Hokey, but good for laughs


WHEN | WHERE Premieres Tuesday at 9 p.m. on CBS/2

WHAT IT'S ABOUT The lions of the world are acting cranky. So are the house cats. So are a lot of other animals. What's going on? No one knows for certain, but ace reporter Jamie Campbell (Kristen Connolly) blames the zoos for buying tainted animal feed. Meanwhile, in Africa, expert safari guide Jackson Oz (James Wolk) is out on the savanna with his colleague and pal Abraham Kenyatta (Nonso Anozie) when both are attacked by (you guessed it) lions! Will Abraham be saved? Will Jamie learn the truth from cool unorthodox vet, Mitch Morgan (Billie Burke)? The show is based on the 2012 best-seller of the same name by Michael Ledwidge and James Patterson.

MY SAY All that's missing here is a tornado -- preferably one that passes over a zoo, vacuums up the caged residents, then deposits them on the humans below.

At least CBS would have had a better title to hang this on. That's right: "Zoonado." (Ba dum).

In fact, along with every other summer thriller dating back to "Jaws," "Zoo" is a redo of "The Birds" -- Alfred Hitchcock's gloriously loopy nightmare about a vengeful avian invasion force. Substitute a few lions and house cats for seagulls and you have . . . well, you have a few hilarious visual gags and dialogue to match. One example: While driving ravishingly beautiful French tourist Chloe (Nora Arnezeder) away from the scene where both were attacked, she tells him her life story about her ex-fiance who was cheating on her back in Paris. "I'm sorry to hear about that," said Jackson. "That must have been a shock."

No, Jackson. That rampaging crowd of lions that chased you across the savanna and maybe ate your best friend? THAT was a shock. Also, sad.

Sure, it's summer and the viewing is easy -- and "Zoo" is about as easy as it gets. There is some fun here, or potentially some fun. As long as no lions were hurt or psychologically damaged during and after production -- the latter still a distinct possibility when they read the reviews -- then I'm willing to go along for the ride.

If only for the laughs.


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