Who knew a plague could be so addictive?
The CW has an odd/endearing habit of debuting some of its best shows (“The 100,” “iZombie”) late in the TV season. This year’s entry is “Containment,” and while it’s hardly Shakespeare, just try taking your eyes off it.
This is essentially a disaster soap opera. A dangerous virus shows up at a hospital in the middle of Atlanta, the sort of thing that makes people bleed from their eyes and drop dead within 48 hours. No one knows what it is or how to treat it and it may be the result of a bio-terrorist attack. At first the hospital is quarantined, then the entire surrounding neighborhood is fenced, trapping some 4,000 people.
Two cop friends are at the center of this — to the extent there is a center. One is Lex (David Gyasi), a major on the police force, the other is Jake (Chris Wood); Jake ends up inside the cordoned area, Lex is on the outside. Lex’s girlfriend, Jana (Christina Marie Moses), is also trapped in the quarantine zone.
Other players include a pregnant teenage girl (Hannah Mangan Lawrence) inside, and her boyfriend (Demetrius Bridges) outside; Katie (Kristen Gutoskie), a teacher who was on a hospital field trip with a gaggle of students, including her son (Zachary Unger), when the quarantine came down; and an infectious disease doctor (George Young) who’s at the hospital trying to find a cure.
Against the backdrop of dying bloody people staggering around — there’s more than a hint of “The Walking Dead” here — the series manages to blend in murder, romance, crazed meth heads, looters, conspiracy and bureaucratic bungling as it flashes back and forth between those inside and outside the cordon.
This being a CW show, most of the stars are somewhat young and attractive, and amazingly deft at avoiding infection. Curiously, almost no one speaks with a Southern accent.
But then the where of “Containment” isn’t near as important as the what, and the creepy sense that this could happen anywhere is what drives the show. This is a disaster movie writ large for TV and the simple fact is, it works despite some none-too-subtle turns. You can’t help being enthralled by a story you wouldn’t want to be a part of.
Tom Long is a longtime culture critic.
9 p.m. Tuesday