Black Summer (TV series)
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Justin Chu Cary
Sal Velez Jr.
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||8 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||20–44 minutes|
|Production company(s)||The Asylum|
|Picture format||4K (16:9 UHDTV in high dynamic range)|
|Audio format||Dolby Digital|
|Original release||April 11, 2019 –|
Black Summer is an American web television series created by Karl Schaefer and John Hyams. The first season, consisting of 8 episodes, was released on Netflix on April 11, 2019. The series is produced by The Asylum, the same production company behind Z Nation, and is written and directed primarily by Hyams, with Abram Cox writing and directing additional episodes. Jaime King stars in the lead role as Rose, a mother who is separated from her daughter during the earliest and most deadly days of a zombie apocalypse. The series garnered moderate approval from critics. Many of the filming locations are in Calgary, Alberta in Canada. In November 2019, Netflix renewed the series for an eight-episode second season.
Six weeks after the start of the zombie apocalypse, when Rose (Jaime King) is separated from her daughter, Anna, she embarks on a harrowing journey, stopping at nothing to find her daughter. Thrust alongside a small group of refugees in North America, she must brave a hostile new world and make brutal decisions during the most deadly summer of a zombie apocalypse.
Cast and characters
- Jaime King as Rose, a mother who is separated from her daughter during the earliest and most deadly days of a zombie apocalypse. (7 episodes)
- Justin Chu Cary as Julius James, a criminal who took the identity of "Spears", the name of the guard he killed. (7 episodes)
- Christine Lee as Ooh "Sun" Kyungsun, a North Korean woman who is looking for her missing mother. (7 episodes)
- Sal Velez Jr. as William Velez, a pole lineman who has a sister and children in Texas. (7 episodes)
- Kelsey Flower as Lance, a young survivor with no family. (7 episodes)
- Erika Hau as Carmen, Manny's girlfriend. (6 episodes)
- Gwynyth Walsh as Barbara Watson, who has survived without her husband and is not sure he is alive. (4 episodes)
- Mustafa Alabssi as Ryan, a deaf survivor. (3 episodes)
- Nyren B. Evelyn as Earl, a mysterious survivor who saves Rose and Spears. (4 episodes)
- Edsson Morales as Manny, Carmen's boyfriend. (4 episodes)
- Aidan Fink as Leader at School
- Kash Hill as The Boy at School
- Stafford Perry as Phil, a social Darwinist travelling with Carmen and Manny. (3 episodes)
- Christian Fraser as Marvin, a man traveling with Carmen, Manny and Phil. (3 episodes)
- Nathaniel Arcand as Governale, a soldier. (3 episodes)
- Tom Carey as Bronk, a soldier. (3 episodes)
- Ty Olsson as Patrick, Rose's husband and Anna's father. (1 episode)
- Zoe Marlett as Anna, Rose and Patrick's daughter. (3 episodes)
- Lonni Olson as Ben, a man who meets Barbara on the road. (1 episode)
|No.||Title||Directed by||Written by||Original release date|
|1||"Human Flow"||John Hyams||Karl Schaefer & John Hyams||April 11, 2019|
|2||"Drive"||John Hyams||John Hyams||April 11, 2019|
|Sun, Barbara, and William attempt to travel to the stadium, but encounter resistance from both the living and the dead. They introduce themselves, but end up being chased by a pick-up truck, which they believe wants their fuel. After the truck attempts to run them off the road, both vehicles crash into a stopped semitrailer, killing Barbara and the pick-up truck driver, both of whom reanimate. The surviving occupants escape their vehicles and flee to an abandoned diner while being chased by the now zombified Barbara and pick-up truck driver. Meanwhile, Rose, Spears, Lance and Ryan continue toward the stadium, witnessing the fates of other survivors along the way.|
|3||"Summer School"||Abram Cox||Abram Cox||April 11, 2019|
|4||"Alone"||Abram Cox||Abram Cox||April 11, 2019|
|5||"Diner"||John Hyams||John Hyams||April 11, 2019|
|6||"Heist"||Abram Cox||Abram Cox||April 11, 2019|
|Two soldiers observe the group arriving at a trap house. Bribing a delinquent guard with Rose, Manny and Carmen let the rest of the group inside. Spears, Sun, and Manny kill the guard watching the armory of the place, the former then leaves for the main building, the latter two make their way in the air duct system. William and Carmen head for the dance floor, where William disables the electricity, and Carmen stabs another guard in the neck to turn him undead. Chaos ensues and many other residents get turned. Manny gets shot and killed by stray bullets and after turning undead chases Sun. Spears saves Sun. The guard Manny and Carmen bribed attempts to rape Rose, but before he can, a beat-up Lance grabs his attention before the power goes out, making the guard go to investigate, only to be devoured by zombies. Rose takes the opportunity to escape in the chaos with Lance, who she rescues as repayment, and eventually manages to get outside and reunite with Earl.|
|7||"The Tunnel"||John Hyams||Daniel Schaefer||April 11, 2019|
|Amidst all the chaos, the group eventually reunite with each other, but just as they are cornered by zombies, the two soldiers from the previous episode kill them and offer to lead them to the stadium. William reveals that he has suffered a leg injury, and is forced to limp. They stop to rest in a hall for the night. During the night, the soldiers lead Spears away through a tunnel, Rose follows and learns of Spears' true identity. After both learning from Spears the soldiers' true motives and knowing the group's need for their weapons, she kills them and decides to spare Spears, who stays. In the morning, they arm themselves and head out. Earl later finds a dog and leaves the group behind.|
|8||"The Stadium"||John Hyams||John Hyams||April 11, 2019|
|The group arrives at outskirts of the stadium with many other survivors. Zombies shortly follow, along with gunfire. Carmen gets clipped in the crossfire and turns undead. In the following mayhem, Rose and William are separated from the group, many others get turned, the gathering is bombed, and survivors try to fight off the attackers. Lance is separated from Sun and Spears and flees from a pack of zombies. The others reunite, but after William is unable to run any further due to his leg injury, he begs Rose to kill him and so she shoots him in the head. Reaching the inside of the empty stadium with Sun and Spears, Rose is reunited with her daughter.|
On July 19, 2018, it was reported that Netflix had given an 8-episode, straight-to-series order for a "spin-off" prequel series to Syfy's Z Nation, titled Black Summer. The series was created by Z Nation co-creator and executive producer Karl Schaefer alongside the flagship series' co-executive producer John Hyams. Schaefer and Hyams also serve as showrunners for the prequel series. On November 20, 2019, the series was renewed for a second season which will consist of 8 episodes.
At the 2018 San Diego Comic-Con, Schaefer noted that "Black Summer is before the apocalypse got weird and was just scary." He said that the horror series is not intended to be the funny version of The Walking Dead that Z Nation is, but would instead be more of an "old-school" take on zombie lore. This was echoed by producer Jodi Binstock, who stated that the series is "not tongue-in-cheek, it's very very serious: it's as if the zombie apocalypse really happened in 2018 and explores what that would be for all of us."
As the series does not feature any of the characters from Z Nation, Binstock later distanced the series from the "spin-off" label, explaining that "Black Summer is referred to in Z Nation as the summer where everything went to hell, so that is where Black Summer picks up." Elaborating, Schaefer described the events of Black Summer as "the low point of the apocalypse" and established it as taking place "about four months into the apocalypse, [...] when 95% of the population dies over the course of the summer." Within that context, Hyams stated that the "essence" of the story is about a mother being separated from her daughter. "The story is: what would a mother do to find her child? And what we learn is that she would do anything." Hyams, who wrote the majority of the series' episodes, also said that the series would explore the idea of an American refugee crisis. Schaefer, Abram Cox, and Daniel Schaefer will also write episodes for the series.
Schaefer stated that the series is not going to be episodic, but will instead be an 8-hour "chunk" to work through. This was confirmed by Binstock, who added that Black Summer would employ "a completely different approach" than Z Nation, "in that it's much more like a chapter in a book. You don't necessarily do the cliffhangers on a commercial break – it's keeping you going so that you've got to binge it."
Alongside the series' order in July 2018, Jaime King was confirmed to star in the lead role. On July 29, King announced via her Instagram account that Justin Chu Cary would portray a character named Spears. On August 7, Kelsey Flower revealed that he had joined the cast as Lance and described his character as "the guy that's terrible at the Apocalypse. You'd think he'd be the first to die." On August 16, Gwynyth Walsh and Christine Lee were reported to have joined the cast in undisclosed roles. On October 13, it was reported that deaf Syrian refugee Mustafa Alabssi had been cast as Ryan, a deaf character. Sal Velez, Jr. will also star in the series as William Velez. Erika Hau will have a recurring role in the series. Upon release of the series' first trailer, it was reported that Aidan Fink and Kash Hill would also star in the series.
Production for the series had officially commenced by July 23, 2018 in and around Calgary, Alberta, Canada, with filming partially taking place at Queen Elizabeth High School, Stampede Park, McMahon Stadium and under the Calgary Tower. The series continued production in the smaller communities of Irricana, Beiseker and Cochrane before returning to Calgary in mid-to-late September. On September 26, it was reported that King had been hospitalized for three days due to injuries sustained while on set, with King simultaneously confirming that production for the series had wrapped. John Hyams directed the majority of the series' episodes. Abram Cox will also serve as a director on the series.
Connection to Z Nation
The connection between Black Summer and its parent series take a similar approach as the relationship between Fear the Walking Dead and The Walking Dead, as there are no plans for any of the characters from Z Nation to appear in the companion prequel series. Z Nation actor DJ Qualls revealed at San Diego Comic-Con that the Syfy series takes place "quite a long time" after the event of Black Summer, making him feel that the cast is "too old" for a crossover to work. However, the two series do share "most to all of [their] writing, directing, and producing staff" as well as a production company, The Asylum.
The first season of the series, consisting of 8 episodes, was released for streaming on Netflix on April 11, 2019. The first trailer for the series was released online on March 19, 2019.
On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the series holds an approval rating of 76% based on 17 reviews, with an average rating of 6/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Black Summer has enough undead carnage and a sinewy pace to please zombie fans, but the series suffers from scant characterization and doesn't add much storytelling meat to the genre's gnawed-on bone." On the positive end of the spectrum, Stephen King praised Black Summer, stating: "Just when you think there's no more scare left in zombies, THIS comes along. Existential hell in the suburbs, stripped to the bone." The New York Times wrote, “If Andrei Tarkovsky and John Carpenter had teamed up to direct a zombie show, it might have looked something like this formally daring Netflix series.”
In April 2019, Black Summer was the most watched show on Netflix in the United Kingdom.
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