Wednesday, March 27, 2019

REVIEW: 'What We Do in the Shadows' - Nandor, Laszlo, Nadja and Guillermo Prepare for the Baron's Arrival in 'Pilot'

FX's What We Do in the Shadows - Episode 1.01 "Pilot"

The vampires try to plan a lavish blood feast in honor of a visit by their ancient master from the Old Country.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the series premiere of FX's What We Do in the Shadows.

"Pilot" was written by Jemaine Clement and directed by Taika Waititi

This show has a unique balance it needs to pull off. It has to remain amusing and entertaining to those who are familiar with the original 2014 feature film from Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi. But it also has to be accessible to those who have never seen the film before. Those newcomers have to understand the specific tone the series is going for. This show features a world with vampires trapped in absolutely mundane and simple situations. It highlights the bond amongst three of them as they happen to be roommates who should be taking over the world but haven't made much progress. They have been in America for over 200 years. And yet, they are still in Staten Island. This is where they were dropped off. It's the only place they felt like exploring because the New World is so big. Of course, the Old Country was big as well. But now, all of the hope for the future of vampires may rest on creating a new stronghold in America. Nandor, Laszlo and Nadja get a visit from the Baron who presents as a different immortal creature altogether. They are informed that this is something that must be done. And yet, the show is just as interested in the details of preparing for the Baron's arrival as the vampires scramble at the last minute. That is very amusing because it creates a strong understanding of these characters for the audience. Nandor is the vampire who needs things to be done a specific way while also trying to present as the cool guy. He has a familiar in Guillermo who loyally serves him because he wants to become a vampire one day. Of course, that day keeps getting delayed because Nandor has no real understanding of everything that Guillermo does or how long he has served him. Instead, he is much more content with creating a piece of art with glitter to celebrate their anniversary together. Time may pass differently for immortal creatures but it's still devastating to see Guillermo get so disappointed in this way. He is the put upon servant of this household who is so loyal to the vampires no matter what even though he is also living under the staircase. It's his job to hunt down the prey that they will feast on as well. Now, that could be the development that could really pull the audience out of this world. These are characters who are fundamentally killing innocent people. Laszlo and Nadja take one guy simply because he was rude to them on the street and they were hungry. They have no consideration when his blood is then drenched all over his girlfriend. And yet, that's the point of all of this as well. It's so absurd while going for those big laughs. It's a twisted sense of humor that works for anyone who is on the same wavelength as what the creative team is doing. So yes, it's a big deal to talk about the narrative in which vampires could be taking over the world. But it's also just so delightful to see the interactions amongst the roommates. Laszlo and Nadja have long had a sexual bond between them. She is the one who turned him in the first place. However, they are both pansexual and enjoy the conquests that they have had over their long lives. Some stay in their memories longer than others. But they are also just as content being together and chasing after each other in a rage. That too is interesting to watch. Plus, there's the fourth vampire in Colin who is a completely different breed of vampire - which may be even more common. He sucks energy out of people instead of blood. That's such a neat twist on the familiar formula for these creatures. It also remains relatable because so many people have that one roommate they can't stand and wish to ignore. Everyone here may be unable to do so with Colin though because he sucks the fun out of so much. But that's also the point. It's a unique balance of tone and pacing. And yet, it works here incredibly well.