Ranking the Channel Zero Seasons
It is Spooky Season officially, one and all, which means I am coming into my power in ways you can’t even yet imagine (by which I mean, cracking out the stockings with bats on them and eating a lot of stuff with cinnamon in it). And it also means that this blog (and the other one, too!) are going to be stuffed full of so much horror content you won’t know what to do with it, apart from, I guess, read and enjoy it? Anyway. That slightly awkward intro aside, I’d like to chat to you today about one of my favourite horror shows of all time, Channel Zero; I’ve discussed it a little on this blog before (and called it one of the best shows ever, but whatever, really), but that doesn’t mean I’m done, because I truly think it’s a must-see for any fans of the genre out there, and frankly, not enough of you have gotten around to it yet.
So! I am going to rank the seasons of this brilliant horror anthology, and hopefully, tempt a few more of you to give it a try, while also probably sparking some delightful argument with previous fans of the show. Let’s get to it!
4. No-End House
There’s got to be a last place, and No-End House just has to take it for me. I do actually still really like this season, despite what the placement on this list may imply – it’s got a bloody brilliant John Caroll Lynch performance, and some of the most effective scares of Channel Zero’s entire run (that wheezing, gasping mask lives in my nightmares rent-free), but it doesn’t feel like it adds up to as much as the other three seasons do. It lacks a little third-act bite, and seems a bit more focused on atmosphere instead of plot movement. Honestly, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if this was someone else’s favourite season, because it does what it does (the eerie, empty hugeness of the memory gaps in the story’s heart) so well, it’s just not my preference.
3. The Dream Door
Everything from this point on is a straight-up masterpiece, as far as I’m concerned, and The Dream Door is a perfect example of everything this show does so well: brilliant monster design, an unsettling tone with one foot in reality and one foot outside of it, great performances (Steven Robertson kicks particular ass in his turn here), and a deeply human-centric story to ground everything and make it hit hard. It’s the last season of the show, and it real feels like it – Channel Zero is totally in it’s groove here and practically showing off all it’s best features with this profoundly odd and very compelling series.
2. Candle Cove
Candle Cove was the first season of this show I happened to watch, and only then because I’d come across it on some deep-Wiki-dive on online creepypastas – I doubted it would add up to much, and perhaps my surprise at how great it is adds to how highly I rate this season. But, honestly, can you blame me? Nothing spooks like kid’s TV (just ask Inside No. 9), and Candle Cove uses the premise of a mysterious, half-remembered children’s television show to guide it’s characters together to face old demons – and also uses it to scare the shit out of me specifically. I knew this show was special when I practically canon-balled out a window at the first glimpse I got of Jawbone, and it was only uphill (downhill, for my sense of sanity, but you get me) from there. I’m a sucker for a small-town mystery horror, and Candle Cove is that, with teeth. Literally.
- Butcher’s Block
It’s been about three years since I watched this season, and I’m still climbing the walls about how fucking incredible it is. So many horror shows deal with mental illness as a central theme, but this six-episode run tackles it head-on with a shocking, disturbing, and fantastically incisive throughline about a pair of twins dealing with hereditary mental health problems. Every performance is immaculate (including an outstanding turn from the late-great Rutger Hauer, and a career-best from Brandon Scott as the fantastically unexpected and layered Luke) and the inter-character relationships are probably the best the show has ever pulled off; there’s depth and history here, both in the big bad and their legacy and in the way these characters deal with one another. It’s got atmosphere to spare, a little salting of surrealism, and I am pretty much talking myself into watching it again right now. Anyone for a watchalong?
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(header image via Downright Creepy)