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Series / Tremors

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This TV series from the Tremors franchise, directly continues on from Tremors 3: Back to Perfection.

A new character, Tyler Reed, buys the Desert Jack Graboid Tour business and finds himself unintentionally partnering up with Burt Gummer, who has semi-officially become a go-to-guy for the government when Graboids are spotted in America. However, it turns out Perfection has some new monsters of its own crawling around, thanks to an abandoned governmental research lab and a mutagenic compound called "Mixmaster".

This series provides examples of:

  • Aborted Arc: In episode 8 "A Little Paranoia Among Friends" we never find out who from town is responsible for sending Burt and Tyler the death threat in their hotel room, or who slashed Burt's tires. After the death threat Tyler speculates that someone really might be trying to cover something up in town, but this turns out to not be the case, and no one in town stands out as more likely a suspect than anyone else for the sabatoge.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: In the first and third films Perfection is flat desert terrain with miles of cacti and other desert plants being the only things for miles in any direction. In the series (seen most obviously at the start of "The Sound of Silence") the town is situated in the base of a green valley, with hills directly around it.
  • Animal Wrongs Group: It's basically a huge Take That! to "eco-kooks" as a whole. Even beyond the fact that Graboids are clearly far, far too dangerous for it to be sane to let them live, "El Blanco", the "protected" graboid... is STERILE. The reason that the residents of Perfection have no trouble coexisting with it is because it will never complete its life cycle and produce shriekers, assblasters, and therefore more graboids, and as a result is capable of becoming full (unlike normal Graboids who hunt until they produce shriekers) simply by feeding off the animals present in the valley. The greens are bleeding their hearts out over a critter that is, in a genetic sense, already dead.
    • An egregious example in "Graboid Rights," as busloads of activists arrive chanting "Save the Worm," despite the fact that the townspeople have been going out of their way to avoid killing it for years now.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: 4-12 may have killed people, but its handler genuinely loved it and, until the plant that kept its aggression under control became impossible to find, it was living peacefully with him. Unlike most monsters, its death is actually played tragically and it's even given a proper burial.
    • Mobsters Max, Kinney and Helmut. provide human examples.
  • BFG: Burt has replaced his lost single-shot .50 BMG LAR Grizzly with an even-more-enormous magazine-fed semiautomatic Barrett M82 .50 BMG anti-materiel rifle. He later takes out a target several miles away with it, which is only a slight exaggeration of what that rifle can really do.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: The TV series can get a bit more brutal than the movies. The deaths caused by the microbe swarm are unpleasant enough, but when you get to people dying via extraordinarily loud sounds you begin to think being eaten by a graboid might be preferable.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Rosalita's rants in Spanish can be pretty funny. Especially when they're trapped by Shriekers, and she's just learned that Burt does indeed have spare ammo...locked inaccessibly away in the safe room after a scientist's stunt of cooking off the first ammo stock to save a group of Shriekers left the door wedged shut.
  • Cassandra Truth: Cecil Carr, Deputy Garcia and the other conspiracy theorists simply won't believe Burt and Tyler's claims that they're dealing with graboids instead of aliens.
  • Closest Thing We Got: In the 13th episode, Burt finds himself separated from his collection of modern firearms as a swarm of shriekers is in the process of attacking a town, and the only weapons available are a wall of civil war era muskets. He considers the situation hopeless until a softball team shows up and offers aid. At this point, Burt gives everyone a quick crash course in how to load and fire the muskets and sets up ranks. Front rank fires, then retreats to the back, middle rank moves forward to aim, while rear-rank reloads. After repeating this about three or four times, the entire swarm is annihilated.
  • Community-Threatening Construction: It continues from the end-point of Tremors 3, in which the residents of Perfection Valley refused to sell their land to be converted to a town and are backed up by the government declaring the area a nature preserve. Many of the episodes revolves around the residents resisting either the government's efforts to drive them out (for the safety of el Blanco, their resident graboid) or Melvin's attempts to buy them out in order to put up a strip mall he calls "Melville" In Episode 1 "Feeding Frenzy" Melvin secretly erects sound-generating devices the stimulate El Blanco's hunger to the point where the graboid becomes very dangerous, and Burt is nearly forced to shoot it. He does this because if El Blanco is killed the valley will no longer have government protection.
  • Continuity Nod: Several, both to the previous films, and, when viewed on DVD self-referencing.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Burt, as usual.
    • Kinney gathering up a harpoon gun, a chainsaw, and some printouts on how to use the harpoon gun before heading after El Blanco.
    • Otto, one of the technicians for the Rescue Team Shriekers project proves that it's smart to have an electric car while dealing with heat-seeking shriekers but it's unclear if he got that car specifically because of them or not.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Kinney (the boss with the harpoon gun mentioned below), and any victim of the plantanimal, the shriekers, the termaggots, or the microbe swarm.
  • Death by Irony: One of the earlier episodes seems built on this trope. The mob man who believed in the Graboid is the one eaten, not his disbelieving buddy. Then, in an effort to retrieve the key, their boss brought a harpoon to spear El Blanco, only for El Blanco to actually end up spearing him with the harpoon, instead.
  • Due to the Dead: 4-12 gets a proper burial, with a makeshift headstone reading "Best pal ever."
  • The End... Or Is It?: The end of the "Planimal" episode shows one last seed pod from the Planimal stuck on someone's jacket. The camera follows it as it gets caught in the breeze and starts drifting around... and then gets quite deliberately crushed under the sole of Burt's boot.
  • Endangered Pest: El Blanco is considered an endangered species. The locals have to put up with his periodic and dangerous passes through town, as his presence is the only reason why Melvin doesn't bulldoze the sleepy community to put up condos.
  • Escaped Animal Rampage: The ass-blaster that was captured alive in the 3rd film escapes from captivity and menaces Perfection again.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: The Vegas gangster trying to kill El Blanco to get back the safe deposit key that was eaten several episodes earlier thought it was utterly cold of Delores to slip a radio onto a man and use him as Graboid bait.
  • Evolutionary Levels: In one episode, the Mixmaster substance has an adverse effect on a freshwater shrimp. Instead of turning it into a grotesque hybrid, it mutates into its giant prehistoric ancestor.
  • Expy: In the third film, Nancy sells a captured ass-blaster to Siegfried and Roy. The TV series changes the buyers' names to those great Vegas stage magicians Sigmund and Ray, presumably Writing Around Trademarks.
  • Extreme Omnivore: Discussed when the Monster of the Week made a wooden fence disappear and the idea that El Blanco ate it is shot down because Graboids don't eat wood, and it's mentioned that these are the same creatures that have been known to happily eat cars. (Granted, fences don't make noise and car engines do.)
  • Fanservice: Rosalita (who was a stripper before moving to Perfection) hid from an Ass-Blaster in the water trough. In the next scene, she walked around in a wet T-shirt, and no bra.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Apparently being forced to relocate to Bixby is this for the residents of Perfection. Twitchell often uses the threat of suburban hell to get his way.
  • Filching Food for Fun: Federal flack Twitchell is always taking food and soft drinks from Jodie's store without paying for them, in one of many ways he threw his weight around.
  • From Bad to Worse: In "Water Hazard," Melvin swipes water from the valley for his latest project. It has Mixmaster in it, leading to the Monster of the Week. Tyler is hired to deal with it quietly, but someone gets killed and Tyler gets arrested. Facing a government quarantine, Melvin leaks fuel into the shrimp's habitat to try to kill it. It turns out, though, the shrimp can breathe air, so it simply leaves the polluted water and gets into a nearby aqueduct.
  • Genre Refugee: Cletus Poffenberger is a Mad Scientist who could have been right at home in a more conventional Creature-Feature like the Anaconda series. However, when Burt brings him in in "Project 4-12", he's is raving about a monster on the loose and our main cast doesn't take him seriously because they think he's talking about El Blanco, Tremors being a series where being attacked by giant Sand Worms are a normal occurrence.
    Nancy: Cletus, you have to understand our situation here. We live with a monster every day. So when you come here talking about another one, quit frankly, it's hard to get our attention.
  • Genre Savvy: Dr. Baines is the only survivor of the rescue team shriekers project to (reluctantly) accept that it's a lost cause, and that instead of trying to stop the subjects, they should step back and let Burt kill them. His coworker Hartung running the second when the collars short circuited also counts, although considering he was the chief of security in charge of try gin to detain such incidents, this wasn’t exactly admirable behavior.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: The hydrophilic bacteria being researched in the lab under Perfection was intended to be used in food-preservation, for places without proper refrigeration, but testing showed the result was too toxic for use, so the project was shelved, then the bacteria was exposed to Mix Master and mutated by crossing with the DNA of a silicon based bacteria from volcanic vents deep at the bottom of the ocean.
  • Government Conspiracy: In "Ghost Dance," we see a couple of self-proclaimed EPA agents try to convince the people of Perfection that the secret lab where Mix-master was brewed doesn't exist and made Twitchell stand down by stating that whatever is in said lab is way above his paygrade, even though he's a GS-13, which is pretty damn high.
  • Heroes Love Dogs: Tyler remarks at one point, "God, I hate a smart animal... unless it's a dog."
  • Hidden Depths: Twitchell frequently expresses annoyance with Perfection residents (especially Burt) and his job, but he won't quit.
    Twitchell: I could, but I chose a wife and kid. And taking care of them is more important to me than some dream job or a sailboat or a house in Big Sur where I can sit around and play my guitar all day.
    Jodi: Wait, you play guitar?
  • Hollywood Acid: One episode features a plant/reptile hybrid that sprays a potent "acid" that skeletonizes a person in mere seconds. In the episode they say it is a much stronger version of the digestive juices of the Pitcher plant.
  • Hope Spot: Two in "Project 4-12." The first is when El Blanco eats the creature, only to spit it back up. Later, Cletus tries to reason with 4-12, and it looks like it's working, but then the creature attacks again.
  • Hypocritical Humor:
    • One episode has the team go out to a town filled solely with UFO-revering conspiracy theorists. Burt finds them all utterly ridiculous, at one point verbally proclaiming they are "all nuts". Then again, they actually accused Burt of being a government cover-up agent, so he kind of had a point.
    • In "Ghost Dance," Tyler and Burt debate what it was they saw in the mine. Tyler says he sees Rosalita's point that it was a ghost, but Burt disagrees completely—saying it was the product of the secret underground biosynthetic lab.
      Burt: For God's sake, be reasonable.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: A mobster who was planning to impale El Blanco with a harpoon gun is instead brutally impaled when El Blanco rears out of the ground and sets off the trigger.
  • Land Mine Goes "Click!": The Planimal was essentially a biological version of a mine field, complete with squelchy noises in place of the usual ominous "click" associated with this trope.
  • Large Ham: Cletus, particularly in "4-12." He is played by Christopher Lloyd, after all.
  • LEGO Genetics: Mixmaster, a compound capable of hybridizing the DNA of any plant and/or animal the government tested.note  Notable in that the guy who created it states that +99% of the monsters would die at birth - it's the rare few that got something useful out of the mess they have to worry about; Invisibat, Giant Shrimp, Termaggots, Plantimal, Microbe Swarm, Project 4-12...
  • Lethally Stupid: Quite a few of the victims didn't just endanger themselves with their idiocy, but everyone around them. For example, in "Night of the Shriekers," the female scientist with a government grant was trying to make shriekers into Search and Rescue animals, which is sufficiently dumb to qualify in itself, considering what's known about them already, but also trained them how to search for "food" underground, and when things inevitably went wrong due to a thunderstorm disabling the electronic Behavior Modification Equipment, and the shriekers went into a feeding and breeding frenzy, rather than cut her losses and let Burt do his duty and clean up her mess, she, taking shelter in his bunker, sets his ammunition on fire, pissing off everybody, including her own security guard, insisting that Burt has to be stopped. Few people shed any tears for her when her idiocy catches up to her and she becomes shrieker chow.
  • Magic Bullets: Lampshaded. Tyler points out that water is really effective at stopping bullets.
  • Monster of the Week: Mixmaster was introduced to aid in this, making the series recapture some of the allure of the movies where people have to learn about and then cope with monsters they know little about. Not every episode deals with a previously unknown creature but many do.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Rosalita is clearly there to provide something for the lady-lovers to look at. The series even tries to justify how attractive she is by saying she used to be a showgirl who became a farmer to get away from creeps. This does not really explain why she rarely wears a bra and is shown wearing stuff like shiny lip gloss while shovelling hay. It's also quite odd that she always wears thin T-shirts, as judging by her chest it's very cold in Perfection. This is taken to its logical extreme in one episode where she dives into a watering trough to avoid being eaten. She actually spends the next few scenes in a soaked white t-shirt. Amazingly, not a single character draws attention to this.
  • Mutagenic Goo: Mix Master, a substance created by scientists for the sole purpose of combining DNA from different animals to create new life.
  • My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels: The pilot episode ends with Tyler unwittingly calling a group of Chinese tourists "a bunch of monkey butts."
  • Obviously Evil: The mobsters from "Hit and Run" and "The Key" are pretty obviously up to no good, and are terrible liars for being professional criminals. The Genre Savvy Rosalita can see through their disguise, but the rest of the cast doesn't see through their act without Rosalita all but beating the concept through their heads with a ball-peen hammer.
  • Picky Eater: In "Blast from the Past" the Ass-Blaster captured from the third movie escapes and the characters try to catch it by baiting a trap with Burt's MREs. Unfortunately it doesn't work because it's spent several years being fed gourmet meals specially cooked for it by top chefs and as a result it's no longer attracted to field rations.
  • Planimal: The Trope Namer. It's a plant/root/thing, but also has a circulation system. Created via Mixmaster.
  • Police Are Useless: Deputy Manny Garcia and Game and Fish Officer Bill McClane are pretty obstructive and unimpressive. Sheriff Boggs from Bixby zigzags this, arresting Tyler after refusing to believe Tyler's explanation of what happened to his men, but later releasing Tyler and, along with his surviving deputy, helping kill the giant shrimp.
  • Properly Paranoid: Whenever Burt is concerned about something, he's usually waved off, despite the fact that he's usually right. Tyler eventually remarks that he finds it scary how often Burt ends up being right.
  • Rag Tag Bunch Of Misfits: The main cast is composed of a paranoid, gun-loving, government conspiracy survivalist, a former race-car driver turned tour-guide, a former stripper turned rancher, two women running a convenience store, a native-american field-hand, a ditzy former scientist, a complete ditz amateur cameraman, and a government agent trying to keep all of the above, and himself, alive, safe, and happy, not helped by the fact that his superiors constantly give him the "mushroom treatment," often trying to gaslight him about the nature of what he's actually dealing with.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Twitchell. As obnoxious as he is, the fact that he even allows the inhabitants to live there is this. Anyone else would have either had El Blanco killed or evacuated the entire area when El Blanco ate its first victim, to say nothing of when they discover Mixmaster has entered the equation.
  • Recruit the Muggles:
    • In "Shriek and Destroy", the townspeople spend most of the episode as potential monster victims Burt and Tyler have to protect. However, once they need more people to fire single shot rifles at the approaching monsters, they are happy to accept the help of the local baseball team, who proceed to make the heroes glad they sought that help.
    • In "Blast from the Past", the students at the survival course Burt is teaching mostly stay out of things throughout the conflict but ultimately help capture the Monster of the Week with their homemade nets.
  • Red Herring: in Graboid Rights, it's easy to suspect Chad of being behind the attempts to poison El Blanco for the sake of giving himself a cause to get famous for, but he's actually innocent, and merely a Jerkass and Opportunistic Bastard.
    • The two hunters who come to retrieve Messerschmidt the Ass-blaster initially seem a bit sinister, but don't have any ulterior motive and cooperate well with the main cast.
  • Remember the New Guy?: Cletus Poffenberger has apparently been living in the valley just outside of the town of Perfection for years and it isn't until the fifth episode does he actually appear, specifically when monsters unrelated to the graboids become a problem for the locals. If Christopher Lloyd was living anywhere around town during the events of the movies, you would have noticed him sooner.
  • Science Is Bad: A complex case. The scientists who live in Perfection are decent, helpful, and intellectually honest. It's the outsiders who are Lethally Stupid, dangerous, and corrupt.
    • In "Night of the Shriekers," the lead scientist is so determined to hold on to her pet project of "Search and Rescue Shriekers" that she actively endangers herself and everyone around her by setting Burt's ammunition on fire while he and Tyler are trying to stop a swarm of Shriekers from burrowing into Burt's bunker, where she is actively taking shelter with Burt, Tyler, Rosalita, and Twitchel, not to mention her own security guards. Tyler even calls her "certifiable" in response to her insane suicidal tendencies.
    • In "Grabboid Rights," the scientist leading Chad's movement to try and force the residents of Perfection out of their homes, by pointing to her "science does not lie" reports of El Blanco's failing health, and blaming the residents for the downturn, is shown to have been actively poisoning El Blanco so that her collected data lines up with her grant-getting thesis. While Chad gets arrested for his part in the scheme, her fate after giving the Perfection residents the recipe for the antidote remains unsaid.
    • Conversely in "Flora or Fauna?" Dr. Matthews and her assistant are nothing but helpful in the quest to eliminate Planimal before it can spread.
    • Similarly, Dr. Debevic in "The Sound of Silence" is competent, listens to local knowledge and does nothing but help deal with the Mixmaster-mutated cicada swarm.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Mixmaster, a virus designed to mix DNA of different species, remained buried in an underground lab for decades until it ended up being released into the valley. Cletus theorizes that the valley's natural barriers will serve as a larger can, though Melvin's actions in "Water Hazard" gives everyone a close call.
  • Self-Deprecation: In one episode, a mobster watching a news report on El Blanco repeatedly mocks the worm as looking fake and poorly Computer Generated.
  • Spit Out a Shoe: In one episode a Graboid eats a woman (played by Vivica A. Fox) alive and spits out her rather expensive looking necklace.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: In one episode they encounter a scientist whose demeanor and views are remarkably similar to Burt's. Burt was absent at the time (due to Michael Gross filming the fourth film). Lampshaded by a few of the characters when the encounter her. She, however, feels that Burt is "a stiff".
  • Swallow the Key: Not done intentionally, but El Blanco the Graboid ate a gangster in an early episode of Tremors: The Series, who happened to have the key to a mob safety-deposit box around his neck at the time. In a later episode, the gangster's surviving associate returns to try to kill El Blanco and retrieve the key, hoping to empty the deposit box of its millions. At the end of this episode, Larry (unaware of the larger story) ends up finding the key and thinks little of it.
  • Take That!: Too many to count, but some of the most prominent examples:
    • Eminent Domain: Where the government can forcefully relocate people "in the public interest." For the town of Perfection, the only way they could legally stop the encroachment of an extremely unethical developer is to live side by side with a giant man-eating worm that only sees them as snacks.
    • The endangered species act: What government official, or group of officials, think it's sane to offer legal protection to a giant worm that likes to eat people?
    • Any politically charged, protest driving "science" where the publicity seekers can only refute opposition by Ad Hominem attacks, property damage, and shouting down the nae-sayers with "but the science does not lie!" when "the science" comes from someone that is entirely unethical, or at best, unproven.
    • Government Bureaucracy: Maybe Twitchell wouldn't be so tough on the people of Perfection if he wasn't always being given grief by his superiors whenever there's a crisis and he gets the "mushroom treatment", at best, or threats at worst, and gets treated like an idiot most of the time because he clearly doesn't like it and can't quit because of his family obligations.
  • Taught by Experience: Much like the movies, the graboids (especially El Blanco), shriekers, and ass blasters are actually scarily intelligent and learn from their mistakes (although Burt theorized that the graboids may have been avoiding him in the second movie due to the signature sound of his vehicle's engine). El Blanco gets conditioned not to attack the tour RV by Burt, shriekers that run face-first into heat-lamps stop their attack and circle around the back of Burt's shelter, and the ass-blaster that escaped captivity after being stolen by a couple of idiots who tried to ransom it quickly gets wise to the schemes to try to catch and cage it and refuses to go after bait on the ground, thus making it necessary to rig a dangerous mid-air capture.
    Burt: "The longer they live, the smarter they get!... TRUST ME, you do NOT want them to wise up!"
  • Too Dumb to Live: Despite living through the original Graboid attack the town of Perfection seems to have forgotten just how deadly they can be and just how close they came to getting eaten. Though this is averted with El Blanco, who is shown to be MUCH easier to deal with and far less dangerous than other Graboids. The fact that Burt has insisted the entire town be rigged with seismic sensors does provide a safety-margin that hadn't existed in the original film.
  • Too Spicy for Yog-Sothoth: El Blanco tries to swallow 4-12 in Episode 5, only to get overwhelmed by the excretions that 4-12 develops causing El Blanco to upchuck 4-12.
    Cletus: 4-12 secretes a chemical, which in layman's terms is a mixture of skunk entrails, panther urine, and cougar excrement. The smell is intended to nauseate the enemy, but I guess El Blanco bit off more than he could chew did he?
  • Undercrank: The scenes in which Tyler Reed drives quickly are this.
  • Wall of Weapons: In the Attack of the Town Festival episode, the heroes have to scrounge weapons from a house in which this trope also applies... with antique black-powder firearms.