Tag Archives: Ash vs. Evil Dead

Ash vs. Evil Dead: “Bait” is a perfect balance of humor, drama, and fake blood

This week, the show picked up right where last week’s episode left off and continued to deliver on the early promise it showed in its first half hour.

“Bait” is the first episode of the show without Sam Raimi at the helm, but I can’t see that it suffers for it. Director Michael J. Bassett retains much of the distinct style Raimi has created for the franchise, but he isn’t afraid to add a few of his own flourishes, either. It has the effect of making the episode feel both reassuringly familiar and refreshingly different. Ash vs. Evil Dead isn’t like anything else on television right now, and it’s shaping up to be something very special.

Anyone who has read my writings on Game of Thrones must know that I have a deep and abiding love for awkward family dinners (this probably also explains my love of Gilmore Girls), and “Bait” delivers a great example of the form. From the moment that Ash and Pablo burst in to “rescue” Kelly, every scene with guest star Mimi Rogers is perfectly handled. The dinner itself was riotously funny as Ash tried to get get Kelly’s mom to admit that she was evil, and the subsequent fight is wonderfully bloody.

I was a little disappointed that Kelly herself didn’t get much to do throughout and was essentially a damsel in distress once her mother was revealed as a deadite, but I actually think there’s a certain sense of realism to this. There’s some very real horror in what Kelly has to go through in this episode, and Dana DeLorenzo does a nice job of balancing drama and humor in order to bring Kelly to life as a character with, I think, the potential to be downright trope-defying. The real test will be how Kelly’s character is handled going forward as we see how she emerges from this crucible.

Kelly being damseled can actually be compared to Pablo’s slightly similar situation earlier in the episode. On the way to Kelly’s house, Ash and Pablo are attacked on the road by their old boss, and it’s quickly clear (and explicitly, verbally called out) that Pablo doesn’t know what to do in spite of Ash’s assurance that getting hit will trigger fighting instincts. Pablo does fight, but ineffectively, and he ultimately has to be rescued by Ash as well, which is what prepares Pablo to be more helpful later on in the episode. There’s a nicely devised symmetry to the character arcs of Pablo and Kelly in this episode that prevents Kelly’s brief damsel moment from being a sexist misstep, although I still contend that she could have been a little more involved in the action.

All that said, “You know they were Jewish, right?” was a perfectly hilarious line, shot with gorgeous irony in the beautiful morning sunshine. What I loved about this scene was that, while it establishes Kelly as a sort of wise-cracking character, it also allows room for her to show real emotion and grieve with dignity. This is something that isn’t often seen in this kind of entertainment, where film-length projects often rush around from action scene to action scene and don’t devote much time to these sorts of character moments.

While Ash and company are having the family dinner from hell, Amanda Fisher is investigating the trailer park attack, which strikes her as similar and perhaps related to her own experience. She is shooed away from the scene by the actual officer in charge, since she’s still not back to work, but before she goes she finds a business card for Books from Beyond. The end of the episode sees her arriving there, while Ash, Pablo, and Kelly are on their way, which sets us up for next week’s show.

I would have liked to see a little more of Amanda Fisher this week, but there just wasn’t time with only a half hour to work with. However, I think the thirty-minute runtime is an asset for the show rather than a detriment. It encourages smart use of the time and prevents overlong scenes of blood and gore. So far, the show has been an agreeable mix of its parts, and the pacing is pleasantly engaging.

All it needs is more Lucy Lawless.

Ash vs. Evil Dead: “El Jefe” greatly exceeded my expectations

Ash vs. Evil Dead is, so far, everything I hoped it would be. My expectations weren’t high for this show, but I have to admit that my hopes were, and Starz has delivered.

My biggest fear about this television adaptation was that, in a time where grit and grimness is highly popular, it would take the material far too seriously. Fortunately, that isn’t the case so far. In fact, in “El Jefe” I think the material was treated with exactly the level of seriousness it deserves.

That said, most of this first episode was devoted to introducing characters. establishing the show’s mythology, and setting up the initial crisis. All of these things are accomplished by the end of these first forty minutes, and the episode is tightly scripted, fast-paced, and hilariously entertaining.

Ash himself is less likable that I remember, although to be fair it’s been probably ten years since I last watched Army of Darkness, which gives a much better picture of Ash’s character than Evil Dead ever did. Still, Bruce Campbell is ridiculously charming, and he makes the most incredibly goofy faces. I could have done without seeing him grossly proposition a girl young enough to be his daughter, although Kelly (Dana DeLorenzo) seems like a character who can hold her own with an old creepy. In any case, that bit of weirdness was basically entirely made up for by getting to see Ash smash a bunch of vases against his own face while fighting an evil doll—and the CG for that scene was perfectly terrible, by the way.

Ash’s sidekicks, Pablo (Ray Santiago) and the aforementioned Kelly, fit into the Evil Dead universe perfectly, and Ray Santiago could give Bruce Campbell a run for his money in the silly faces department. Pablo’s almost blind faith in Ash is endearing, and Kelly so far doesn’t fit neatly into any particular stereotypes. I also like that while Pablo may be smitten with her and Ash might leer at her, the camera treats Kelly with respect; I can’t think of any pervy shots of her, anyway, which helps to reassure me that Kelly doesn’t just exist to be ogled or end up a love interest.

The other major character that got a lot of screen time this week was state police officer Amanda Fisher (Jill Marie Jones), whose first encounter with the evil force Ash has awakened (in a scene that highlights the dangers of mixing drugs and ancient books of magic) ends with her having to shoot her partner’s head off, which earns her a suspension from the force and an internal investigation. Amanda’s introductory scenes are the only ones in this first episode that I think were at all scary, but they also felt very consistent with the tone of the old Evil Dead films, with a similar visual effects style that relies chiefly upon great gouts of fake blood. While Amanda is moping in a diner after her traumatic experience, we get to meet Lucy Lawless’s character, Ruby, the only main character who remains mysterious by the end of this episode.

Overall, this episode greatly exceeded my expectations, and I’m now legitimately excited about this show instead of just in it for the nostalgia factor. The next test for Ash vs. Evil Dead will be whether or not the show continues to hold up without Sam Raimi at the helm for every episode. Next week, someone else takes the reins, and we’ll find out. Hopefully, we’ll also get to see more of Lucy Lawless.

What I will be (and you should be) watching this fall

So, it took me most of a summer of watching light fare to recover from this last season of Game of Thrones, but I think I’m more or less ready for watching and writing about some new television this fall. I won’t be writing about everything I watch, obviously, and there are a couple of things I intend to write about that I don’t know if I’ll be able to stick with–that could end up like my watching and posting about Killjoys did this summer; I still haven’t watched the last two episodes of that show, I was so bored/frustrated with it.

Here’s the plan:

The Mindy Project – Tuesdays on Hulu starting 9/15. I honestly love this show, and I will watch it til the end of time, although I rarely write about it outside of a line or two on Tumblr. The first episode of season four is excellent, and the first three seasons are available to stream on Hulu as well so it’s not too late too catch up if you’re really dedicated.

Doctor Who – Saturdays on BBC America starting 9/19. Doctor Who is another show I just can’t quit. It’s also one that I intend to write about this year, although I haven’t had much positive to say about it during Steven Moffat’s tenure as showrunner. I’m not making any promises about this one, though. Right now, my goal is to have my Doctor Who post up on Monday mornings, but I’m not going to destroy myself over this show the way I do over Game of Thrones. If it gets too insufferable, I will likely switch to just watching it.

Minority Report – Mondays on Fox starting 9/21. Frankly, I’m already bored by this series, but I’ll probably check out the first episode or two just to confirm my suspicion that it makes no sense. I’m pretty sure the whole point of Minority Report was that the whole pre-crime thing is a terrible idea and this show seems to be presupposing that–maybe it isn’t? Okaaaay.

Scream Queens – Tuesdays on Fox starting 9/22. This show is relevant to basically all of my interests. And it has Jamie Lee Curtis. I’m currently planning to write about this one on Wednesdays.

Heroes Reborn – Thursdays on NBC starting 9/24. This show is basically not relevant to anything. No one wanted or asked for it. But it’s a thing that is happening. Since I loved the first season of Heroes as well as anybody, I will be watching this, but I’ll only be writing about it if it’s really good or really comically terrible.

Bob’s Burgers – Sundays on Fox starting 9/27. Love it. Watch it with my family. Will almost never post anything about it except gifs of Tina on Tumblr.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine – Sundays on Fox starting 9/27. Also love, but also won’t write about unless something major happens.

iZombie – Tuesdays on the CW starting 10/6. The first season of this show was a little uneven, and I wasn’t totally thrilled with the way it ended, but I plan to tune in again this year and write about it some more. Depending on how things pan out, I may end up choosing between this and Scream Queens to write about, though. Just, realistically, I’m not sure I have it in me to write about more than one show a day, especially as I’ve got a lot of reading that I want to do over the next few months as well.

Jane the Virgin – Mondays on the CW starting 10/12. I won’t write about this show (mostly because it’s basically perfect), but it’s another one that we watch as a family and I can’t wait.

Supergirl – Mondays on CBS starting 10/26. I kind of dislike most super hero stuff, but this show looks completely charming. I’m currently planning to write about it.

Ash vs. Evil Dead – Saturdays on Starz starting 10/31. This show is definitely what I am doing on Halloween. I’m not sure if I will write about it or not. It depends on how good this show is and how bad this season of Doctor Who is.

Into the Badlands – Sundays on AMC starting 11/15. This show is almost certainly awful, but I’m kind of interested in it anyway. No plans to write about it.

The Man in the High Castle – On Amazon Prime starting 11/20. I haven’t read the Philip K. Dick novel this series is based upon, but the trailer for the show looks promising. I’m hoping to read the book sometime over the next couple of months, and then I might watch the show.

Jessica Jones – On Netflix starting 11/20. Another Marvel show. I’m somewhat looking forward to this one, but I haven’t even finished Daredevil yet, so there’s no telling when I’ll get around to it. I do really like Krysten Ritter, though.

Childhood’s End – On SyFy starting 12/14. I read this book over the summer, and I totally understand why it’s one of the great sci-fi novels. I also totally have no faith in this adaptation of it. It looks legit awful, and I’m a little embarrassed for SyFy about it. I’ll definitely be watching it, though. And I expect that I’ll write some about it, too. I think it’s going to be just that enraging.

The Expanse – On SyFy starting 12/14. I’m somewhat more optimistic about this show, although I haven’t read the source material (and don’t really intend to unless the show is really good). I’ve no idea whether I’ll write about it or not. It depends on whether I have any feelings about it strong enough to be worth sharing.

I’m really disappointed that the new shows that seem intended to capitalize on the popularity of Game of Thrones-esque, gritty, dark medieval European settings (The Bastard Executioner and The Last Kingdom) both look boring as shit. I’m actually a pretty big fan of the gritty medieval stuff, but I have no desire to watch shows that look to be almost entirely devoid of women. Game of Thrones might hate its women, but at least they exist there.

In all honestly, the shows I’m most looking forward to this fall are all returning favorites. The new stuff that’s coming out isn’t that exciting, with a couple of exceptions, and a solid half of it looks actively bad. I figure I’ll try a few new things, though. Worst case scenario, everything is terrible and I end up reading more books instead.