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'What We Do in the Shadows' is Enjoyable but Might Not Live Forever
March 27, 2019  | By David Hinckley  | 3 comments
 
 
Vampires can theoretically live forever. That will not be an issue for FX’s new vampire comedy What We Do in the Shadows.

What We Do In The Shadows, the namesake TV version of a 2014 movie, premieres Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET, and its producers may feel more optimistic than viewers about how well it can sustain its bemused premise.

Created by Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi, the same pair who made the movie, WWDITS understands vampire tales and has a droll touch in satirizing them. It’s just hard not to think there may be a limited pool of material on which to draw.

The story revolves around three vampires who emigrated from Europe two centuries ago because Europeans seemed prejudiced against vampires. Go figure.

They landed in Staten Island, where they’ve been holed up since, emerging by night to feed on unsuspecting locals and otherwise just marking time, which they have in abundance.

As this portion of the story begins, they are visited by an important ancestral vampire from Europe, a baron who warns them that they must make more progress toward becoming the absolute rulers of Staten Island. He doesn’t seem to realize this is like expecting Paul Blart, Mall Cop, to take over the FBI.

Nandor (Kayvan Novak) sees himself as the leader of the Staten Island group and is fond of issuing grand pronouncements that are routinely ridiculed by Laszlo (Matt Berry).

Laszlo is having an affair with Nadja (Natasia Demetriou, below). He fancies it a passionate affair. Nadja does not. She just wants a lot of sex and Laszlo is handy.

Nadja explains to us – the audience hears a lot of confessions here – that she never quite got over Gregor, a knight in the old country. They had a wildly romantic affair, she recalls, until Gregor was decapitated, either in battle or during a particularly torrid bedroom session. The details aren’t clear.

Now Nadja thinks she has found Gregor’s reincarnation, a hunky local night watchman named Jeff (Jake McDorman).

“I am seeing another man,” Nadja confesses to us. “But he doesn’t see me. I follow him around.”

Spoiler alert: WWDITS has a fair sprinkling of comedic wordplay along those lines. In this case, however, Nadja is simply reporting the truth. She follows him home and scampers up the side of his building to peer in his window.

Because that sort of joke may be truly funny only the first time, WWDITS also stocks itself with two other characters tasked with making us laugh.

Colin Robinson (Mark Proksch) is the fourth vampire in the house and barely tolerated by the other three because he’s not a vampire either by blood or by drinking blood.

He is, he explains, an energy vampire, who sucks the life out of people by either boring or annoying them to death. He can talk endlessly about the difference between cleaning a car and “detailing” a car. It’s a skill.  

Guillermo (Harvey Guillén) has been Nandor’s assistant for ten years. He calls Nandor “master,” and his dream is to become a vampire himself. Meanwhile, he does chores like sunlight-proofing the house and opening up Nandor’s casket at sunset every day so Nandor can come out and play.

Nandor may be less enchanted with Guillermo than vice versa. “He works hard,” Nandor tells us. “He just isn’t very good.”

Watching WWDITS, it’s hard not to wonder if this show has pulled into the station just a few trains too late. In 2019, the glow from Twilight, Vampire Diaries, and True Blood may have faded a bit.

Potentially more problematic, What We Do in the Shadows doesn’t feel like it has a lot of veins to mine. The characters are amusing and played well enough. It’s just hard to imagine how to keep vampire gags from quickly feeling recycled – even when the vampires regularly talk about their sex lives.  

Or, on the other hand, maybe all those vampire fans will see it as a bloody good time.

 
 
 
 
 
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3 Comments
 
 
Michael
This man should lose his job after this review. If he checked his facts and did his job he would know this show is one of the most watched new TV shows of 2019.
Jul 16, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
John
Are upi sure you watched the series? Did you watch the movie too? Have you not watched other films of the same genre to get all the references you seem to have missed. This is the most cerebral comedy series available today.
Jul 16, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
Alesha
How can you critique something when you clearly weren't even paying attention? Laszlo and Nadja are MARRIED not having an affair. Therefore your opinion on the show is irrelevant.
Jul 16, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
 
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