Saturday, April 6, 2019

Pilot Review: What We Do in the Shadows

What We Do in the Shadows (FX)
Premiered March 27 at 10pm

I heard about this show at South by Southwest a few weeks ago and was confused since I initially thought it was a movie, which I knew had been released back in 2014 with Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi. Though I’m a big fan of Clement, I’m hardly vampire-obsessed, and so I had never seen it, and didn’t have too much interest in this. There are so many mockumentaries out there these days, and some elements just feel overdone. I do like that the ancient vampire who emerged from the coffin acknowledged the camera crew and seemed to briefly relish his audience, but otherwise this was a pretty standard interview-format show, with the obvious twist that these characters are talking about their vampire-related lives. I recognized Kayvan Novak, who plays Nandor, from his recent role in “The Day Shall Come” and his more memorable part years ago in “Four Lions,” and I was also very surprised to see Beanie Feldstein, who starred in “Booksmart,” as one of the virgins all too eager to be a part of the LARPing. Some lines were indeed memorable, like “I’m pillaging everyone, you included,” and the best joke was probably about people being half-drunk in the basement and needing to implement a policy of finishing a whole victim before moving on to the next one. The concept of the energy vampire who drains people just by talking to them was also funny. There’s not enough here that makes me feel I need to return to experience any more of it, but I did enjoy it much more than I thought I would!

How will it work as a series? Guillermo is desperate to be turned into a vampire by his master but that seems fated not to happen, while Nadja is certain that this random human is her reincarnated lover who can inject some excitement into her life. These recurring plotlines, along with Nandor’s desire to be official about how they do things, should help augment an otherwise normal narrative made more unique by the universe in which these vampires exist.
How long will it last? I’m really not sure how many more vampire shows the TV world needs now, but the reviews seem to be on the positive end, as were the ratings. FX is all for edgy programming that appeals to a wide range of viewers, and so I suspect that a strong start for this show will translate to a bright (if sun-free) future for this show. A renewal should be around the corner.

Pilot grade: B

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