The verifiability of the concept of a horror/comedy on vampires spills over from Taika Waititi’s clever original into this fresh (~even better) remake with stronger plotting, fantastic new characters, & even more hilarious bloodsucker gags. 8/10.
Plot Synopsis: Based on the feature film of the same name from Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi, “What We Do in the Shadows” is a documentary-style look into the daily (or rather, nightly) lives of four vampires who’ve “lived” together for hundreds of years in Staten Island. After an unexpected visit from their dark lord and leader, the vampires are reminded of what they were initially tasked with upon their arrival in New York City over a century ago — total and complete domination of the New World. But what exactly is the best way to go about achieving said domination? A vérité camera crew follows along as the vampires set out to answer this query.
*Possible spoilers ahead*
Best Episodes: 1. Pilot, 2. City Council, 3. Werewolf Fued, 4. Citizenship, 5. The Trial, 6. Animal Control, 7. Baron’s Night Out, 8. Manhattan Nightclub
A TV Follow-Up To Taika Waititi’s Bold, Fresh Black Comedy The Office x Vampire Mash-Up Mockumentary? Sign Us Up
A modernized mockumentary/black comedy on a previously-serious subject with foundational roots in our society and nightmares: vampires. That was the tall order Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement sold us and a film studio on back in 2014 with their film of the same name “What We Do In The Night,” that went on to become a cult classic and one of the biggest breaths of fresh air in the genre recently. Now, they’re back as executive producers on a new, bigger-budget reimagining/fleshing-out of the premise for TV, and what they’ve captured here is fresh bloodsucking brilliance.
True To The Original’s Tone With Hilarious New Bloodsuckers-In-The-Real-World Gags All Its Own
The series gets right the original’s tonal grating and mix of horror and comedy in an extremely impressive way feeling like a simple stretching-out of the film while getting right everything that made it work in the first place – the commonplace real-life trappings of beings previously-viewed as supernaturally superior makes for a still verifiably-hilarious concept rife with potential for top-notch comedic gags like going grocery shopping, dentist-visiting, and dealing with pesky roommates.
The Plotting Is Actually Much Better Than The Original Film’s
In fact, this FX reimagining might even be better than the original film in my view since it makes a major improvement in a vital aspect: the plotting. The original’s plot was fine in servicing as more of an introduction to the characters getting ready for a dead-extravaganza in the Unholy Masquerade, but the plot and ambition is drastically improved here by having a dark lord come and tell four screwball modernized vampires living in Staten Island they somehow have to take over (or at least, try) to take over the world. This opens up the concept to dramatically more gag-possibilities just ripe with potential like going to city hall and trying to demand them give up Staten Island municipal power, and is a brilliant decision by the showrunners and FX that makes the series feel more grand in importance.
Fantastic New Characters
(& Mark Proksch’s Side-Splitting Energy Vampire)
The series also makes a lot of other smart new additions, while keeping its original authentic feel and craftsmanship. Mark Proksch’s Colin as the energy vampire is absoliutely HILARIOUS and one of the funniest characters I can remember on modern TV sucking the energy and attention out of people through basic conversations playing off the meniality/boredom of normal office 9-5’s. The new characters are great too; they need some getting used to and may lack the instantaneous starpower of Taika and Jemaine in the original, but they’re great too – especially Guillermo as the far-improved familiar and Nandor the (Relent)less, as well as a more diverse cast adding a female that sticks and the Indian/Arab as an ethnicity that rarely, if ever, sees these types of national show spotlights. The comedic writing is just as strong as the original if not better with gags like the LARPing medieval nerds, VFX better and more crisp as a result of the probably-upped budget in things like the better werewolf and bat CGI, and title card the same with impressive homages and easter eggs to the original and vampiric lore/history.
Flaws include sometimes-politicization like with forced Nadja/Jenna feminist pandering and occasional America-cockiness like “who wants anything to do with Canada?” plus a new cast who, while great, isn’t quite as good as the original film’s. However, these are mostly small gripes in what’s otherwise a side-splitting horror/comedy landscape.
A TV Spin-Off/Reboot That’s Just As Good – If Not *Better* Than Taika Waititi’s Original
The verifiability of Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement’s original film and shrewd concept of a modernized black comedy on vampires spills over into this fresh remake that’s perhaps even better than the 2014 film with stronger plotting, good new characters, and more hilarious bloodsucker gags with wider scale. One of the best new comedies on TV.
Official CLC Score: 8/10