We don’t need entertainment, but we sure crave it.
It’s so easy to be disappointed these days, but Resident Alien Season 1 Episode 1 hits the sweet spot.
Alan Tudyk is firing on all cylinders as the earth-bound alien on a mission to destroy humanity, and he’s surrounded by an amazing cast that matches him beat for beat.
Fish-out-of-water stories are fantastic. They’re an entertainment staple. It’s charming watching outsiders fit into our earthly monotony. It works on an earthly level, too, with foreigners acclimating to new locations, but it’s never as good as the alien experience.
Harry Vanderspeigle is on a mission to destroy humanity. Whether it comes with planetary destruction too is something for another day because we’re only just getting to know the guy.
Harry dropped hints about his disdain from the moment he began speaking to the audience.
Spring. The birds are singing, the flowers are blooming, the sun warms the earth. Somewhere; not here. It’s 30 degrees out, it snowed nine feet last winter, and four frozen sodas just exploded in my truck. Welcome to Patience, Colorado.
Like anyone who finds themselves struggling against desolation and frigid temperatures, Harry could barely contain his desire to be somewhere, anywhere else than Patience, Colorado.
He thought hiding out in the woods, tranquilly learning how to be an earthling by watching Law & Order repeats would consume his time until he gathered his wits and bits to destroy us. But Patience, Colorado, had other plans for Harry.
Although Harry is lured into town because the town doctor was murdered, that mystery is probably the least interesting thing about Resident Alien.
It offers an opportunity for Harry to get outside of his comfort zone and engage with earthlings, but even after watching seven episodes (yay me!!), I still don’t care who killed the town doc or why.
Nope. It’s the townspeople and all things related to Harry that sets this series on fire. Tudyk is one of the funniest actors around. He can take even the most mundane and use it to his advantage.
[searching his phone] Douche. Bag. A small syringe for douching the “vageena.” Images. [shakes his head] WHAT THE HELL?? [searching again] Taint. [tosses the phone across the cab in shock]
On Resident Alien, his Harry varies from goofy (Kung Kung!) to dry (Hey, please don’t tell me you’re leaving. OK. I won’t.) without skipping a beat.
Harry can get drunk and dance, surprising even himself with how fun humans can be, or he can stalk a nine-year-old and try to murder him in his bed. It doesn’t matter what he’s doing. He’s entertaining as hell to watch, thanks to Tudyk’s versatility.
Although nothing about Harry is genuine, he doesn’t bother to lie about it beyond the whole alien-in-hiding thing. His truthfulness, while brusque, takes everyone by surprise.
Harry: This. Is. Awesome!
Asta: What? What’s awesome?
Harry: A good mystery. Figuring out what happened. Like Law & Order. Kung kung! That was fun.
Harry: Yeah. I know who killed him.
Harry: He did. The angle of the wounds. The way the blood is on his hand. He murdered himself.
Sheriff: And why the hell would he do that?
Harry: I don’t know. I wasn’t here. [walks away]
Sheriff: Aight, look. That’s one creepy son of a bitch, right? That ain’t just me, right? Ya’ll see that, right?
Sheriff Mike knows something is off about this guy. You know he’ll be trying to figure it out until he has answers. Asta accepts Harry, quirkiness and all.
Being a square-shooter works in his favor with her. Losing her father figure and close ally, Doctor Sam, does, as well. But it’s Harry’s no-nonsense viewpoint that really sucks her in.
As nonsensical as he is overall, he gives it to her straight, whether it’s what she wants to hear or not. Given her relationship with her ex, it’s easy to understand why she wants it all upfront and doesn’t need any messages dripping in sugar-free syrup.
Everyone else in town falls somewhere in between Sheriff Mike and Asta. Asta’s bestie wouldn’t mind a roll in the hay with Harry, and Mayor Ben sees him kind of like a savior.
That’s despite the fact his son, Max, is in the midst of a living nightmare with a real bogeyman literally under his bed, not to mention acting as his freakin’ physician.
If you read my interview with executive producer and showrunner Chris Sheridan, you know that Harry and Max’s situation continues.
Since Harry has the human emotions of a nine-year-old himself, he and Max will be each other’s greatest foils. It’s a lot of fun, as it allows Tudyk to be downright despicable, a side he’s hiding from the rest of town.
You probably get the gist of it by now. I am in love with Resident Alien. I’ve watched the premiere several times, and I laugh every time. I also find something new to love, which is why there are so many Resident Alien quotes for the premiere.
And it’s not just Tudyk who’s winning my admiration. The Closer was one of the first shows I covered for TV Fanatic in 2010, so Corey Reynolds has always been on my radar in this biz. But his comedic timing is everything!
The Closer had comedic moments, but what he accomplishes here paints him in an entirely new light for me.
Sheriff Mike and Deputy Liv balance each other. Mike’s cynicism is matched well with Liv’s sweet demeanor. They’re different, but they work well together, and hell, when push comes to shove, they even beatbox to pass the time during a stakeout.
That quirk of Mike’s is Reynolds’ brainchild, and once Sheridan learned about it, he quickly wrote it into the script. All of that behind-the-scenes love translates on screen.
The premiere doesn’t have much of Ben’s wife, Kate, but they’ll feature more prominently as the show continues. Everyone gets their due course to shine.
Chatting with Alice Wetterlund (D’arcy) was a thrill since I can watch her 2019 Amazon comedy special anytime I need a pick-me-up.
Her vibe with Sara Tomko (Asta) and Tudyk is apparent in the bar scenes. It’s one of the few times when Harry’s understanding of the human condition fails miserably.
Whiskey. Headache. Nausea. Severe dehydration. Alcohol must not affect humans the way it does us. If it did, they obviously would never drink it.
He has the best time letting loose, but his first hangover leaves him believing that humanity tolerates alcohol in a way that aliens can’t. Nope, we’re just that stupid, Harry, that experiencing it once teaches us absolutely nothing!
I’m dying to know what you thought of Resident Alien. Some reviews out there fault the show for not knowing what it wants to be, but that’s the fun of this one.
And although the title was inspired by someone with a green card, from my knowledge, it’s not a statement, sweeping or general, on the state of immigration. It’s just a cute reference.
Does that make it any less entertaining? Nope. I’d argue it does the opposite.
If there is a message, it’s that any exploration of the human condition is worthwhile. We all experience it and view it differently. That’s not a ding against humanity, but the core of what makes it so valuable.
So, let’s hear what you think about it. Did you have as much fun with the premiere as I did? Would you fancy a trip to Patience, Colorado?
Do you think Harry will grow closer to humanity so that destroying it won’t seem as delightful?
Leave your comments below, making sure to reveal if you’ll be watching more, returning here after every episode for Alien chatter!
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She’s a member of the Critic’s Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.