Lately I’ve been mentally referring to this show as “College Kids in Peril” but I’ve been hooked enough to stay with it. It’s not the best show out there. For one, the writing is not consistently good. At one point, one character actually explains what “up shit’s creek without a paddle” means, and unless they were trying to portray college kids attempting to sound intellectual on reality television, the over-exposition feels trite. That becomes a recurring point, as several times during the series, one character or another will start expounding on some trivial topic, each in turn sounding like the same meta-character acting as a voice piece for the writers.
In the reasons-to-watch column, I was initially going to say that getting as much mileage out of one single 6’ x 6’ set piece was pretty smart, but B-movie horror flick Cube did the same thing, with a similar (if much more gruesome and sinister) “a bunch of rooms situated next to each other” set-up. As a premise for a reality show, having a bunch of contestants separated within small chambers that they’re unable to leave, being mostly unable to talk to each other, seems like a pretty new idea, except Solitary did that for several seasons, and with a lot more goofy tests of endurance.
So I’m not sure what to tell you as to why I enjoy this show, hoping it comes to a satisfying conclusion. The best part is that it takes the time to develop slowly, working on building atmosphere and keeping pace with main character Henry as he figures out what he’s supposed to be doing on the show and the limited information he receives, with fellow players who regularly don’t want to put in the effort themselves. Maybe I like the idea of a television network tossing everything away and banking their future on a single, always-broadcasting reality show that’s only scheduled to run a week. Despite some of the problems in the writing, other parts of the script are solid, and some characters become real and relatable; I want to see them win the game. There are minor puzzle elements woven into the story and visual compositions of shots that you can try to piece together while watching, and you know me and puzzles. And maybe because I just like goofy premises, and admittedly I’d probably be trying to watch the fictional show being portrayed if it were real, based on its ridiculous promises.
If you want to watch The Vault in its near-entirety (one more episode to go), use the playlist that contains the prelude and vignette episodes with supporting characters that become woven into the main storyline later on.