Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Evil Dead Watch: Ash vs. Evil Dead Season 1, Episode 1

It was with absolutely zero trepidation that I plunked down my subscription for the otherwise seemingly useless Starz channels that I could watch the new TV series, Ash vs. Evil Dead.  I'm not a grade-A screwhead, but I am a fan of the Evil Dead movies, star Bruce Campbell and director Sam Raimi.

We also get Dana DeLorenzo and Ray Santiago as the new generation to ride shotgun with Ash.

It certainly didn't hurt my decision to get onboard that the show would co-star Lucy Lawless, who - spoilers - does not actually appear in the pilot aside from her credit.  So, sorry about that.

What the pilot does have is a remarkable mix of comedy and horror in the Evil Dead 2 tradition, a supporting cast that seems to fit well into the Evil Dead spirit, and a parallel storyline with actress Jill Marie Jones, who looks vaguely familiar because she was briefly on Sleepy Hollow.

I don't really know what you people want to hear.  It's a first episode, and much like Supergirl, it's working itself out as a show, but it's one that will rely perhaps on less of a single tone for the characters.  Because if Bruce Campbell has figured anything out in this life, it's how to be Ash and what will make his fans cheer.  The show is a hard-MA or R rating, and the gore factor is tuned up to Evil Dead 2 levels with improbable amounts of blood in the human body, and Raimi clearly happy to exploit CGI to get more creative exploding heads and whatnot.  While the non-practical FX take a beat to adjust to, of course it makes sense that the show would exploit the potential there.

Ash seems to have accidentally unleashed hell on Earth once again, but rather than doing so in a secluded cabin, he's let it out in suburban Michigan in a way that, frankly, it seems surprising he hasn't done in the previous 30 years since the events of Evil Dead 2 and his return to the world, which we can pin to 1985, meaning his return from Army of Darkness occurred during the correct timeframe.

Anyway, I'm pretty much in the bag for this one, so don't expect a lot of critical viewing of this show.  My biggest fear was it would be neither funny nor scary, and before we ever even get the title up, bother were more than taken care of.

Oh, the show must have drawn in a massive flood of Starz subscribers, because it was renewed before it ever even aired.  So, look forward to two seasons of Evil Dead mayhem.


ncapp said...

I can't say I was surprised because the trailer did a good job of letting me know what to expect, but I'm still bummed that the tone is closer to Army of Darkness than Evil Dead 1 or 2. You mention that the comedy and horror are in the Evil Dead 2 tradition, but Ash doesn't seem like he's in on the joke in Evil Dead 2, unlike Army of Darkness or here. The callbacks to the other movies bugged me for some reason and the CG is CG. It looks like some effects were supposed to be in 3-D, they are so awkward. At least it can be suspenseful and scary when it wants. I got the impression that it was ignoring the events of Army of Darkness, but I could be wrong.

And Lucy Lawless WAS in the episode, but so briefly. She was the woman who was in the other booth at the diner that somehow knew the traumatized cop saw something weird even though she would've had her back to the cop AND would've had to see through the booth back.

The League said...

I think I was looking at IMDB to figure out where I recognized Jill Marie Jones from and totally missed Lawless showing up. Ah, the folly of the modern age.

You know, it's funny... A guy was over at my place on Halloween and Evil Dead 2 was on in the background, and we had very differing opinions of the Evil Dead franchise. He, too, was not as much of a fan of Army of Darkness. I dunno. I saw the movies in reverse order, accidentally seeing Army of Darkness in the theater just because. I think - and maybe I'm over thinking something that's a natural evolution of what those guys are just doing to entertain themselves and get a paycheck - but I always thought Evil Dead 2 was the transformation of Ash into the hero character of Army of Darkness (and I'm not sure yet how they're treating that movie. Dropping the details of time travel may or may not come up, I guess).

The CG is CG. I don't know if there's much to be done about it, but I also expect it's a constraint of the show's budget. It's a pilot, and as hard as I was on the Supergirl pilot, I do try to recognize - this stuff takes a while to find it's footing. I give it a B or B-, I'm hoping for better, but we'll have to see.