WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS
This is a new FX half-hour comedy about vampires.
Wait, wait, you say, didn't I see a movie called What We Do in the Shadows? You are so cool - yes, you did. In 2015, the movie was an immediate cult classic, but the cult was very small because it was made in New Zealand by two New Zealanders, Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi and set in New Zealand's big city, Wellington.
The premise is simple - The Office meets The Office with vampires, except the location isn't an office but a house in Staten Island where three vampires have lived since they arrived with the pilgrims. When their master, who sent them to the New World centuries ago to conquer it for vampires, shows up for a visit, he wants to know if Staten Island is the center of the New World. When informed it is not, he wants to know why the vampires are there and is told, "Because this is where the boat dropped us off."
There is a documentary crew who is filming them all the time and there are all the elements of The Office we have come to know and love, like the characters talking directly to the camera.
There are three "traditional" vampires:
The Felix Unger-like leader of the group is “Nandor The Relentless” (Kayvan Novak), a great warrior and conqueror from the Ottoman Empire who acts as the leader. He complains to the other vampires about the half-drunk crowd that was left in the hall and when asked where the drunks got the booze, he says he doesn't mean drunks, but people who are left half-drunk - he insists that once they start drinking a human, the vampires have to finish him or her before moving on.
“Laszlo” (Matt Berry), the antithesis of Nandor who loves to party and is currently in a long-term relationship (and where vampires are concerned 'long term' is really long) with ..
“Nadja” (Natasia Demetriou): the temptress and seducer.
There is a fourth vampire, an "energy vampire", “Colin Robinson” (Mark Proksch). He walks by day and night, sucking the energy of all whom he meets. Just a few minutes with Colin and every dream of adventure and changing your life just withers away as Colin goes on and on and - you know. When he is done with a human, there is nothing left - not even one drop of life-enhancing blood. It has all been sucked out.
There are, also, 'familiars', that is, helpers who protect the vampires during the day and act as servants and procurers for them. “Guillermo” (Harvey Guillén), is Nandor’s familiar and he expects one day to be rewarded for his service by being made a vampire himself.
As you may have gathered, this is not a show for those seeking the meaning of life's struggle with the dark world. No, this is comedy that harkens back to the era of Sid Caesar and Jackie Gleason, one liners and puns and silly jokes - like when their master, Baron Afanas, pays a visit after several hundred years; he has a decrepit body with no genitalia and Laszlo says he remembers that he had genitalia and Nadja corrects him, 'No, he never had genitalia, that's what made the sex so great.'
These are the kind of jokes you want to remember to tell your friends. That's what separates this kind of humor from the prevailing kind on TV as exemplified by Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm. In the case of the later, you cannot really convey the humor without a lengthy explanation of the story or characters. Those shows are dependent on long-time watchers who will laugh when a secondary character knocks on Jerry's door, he opens it and says, 'Hello, Newman.' Big laugh, but you don't get it unless you have seen all of the previous shows of Seinfeld.
With What We Do in the Shadows (the title reminds some of us of Dark Shadows that cult-TV classic of a bygone time) , just tune in anytime. The humor is not dependent on a thorough knowledge of vampire culture or vampire shows and movies - and there are more than you can count. One night a few weeks ago, I started watching a show on Fox that I thought was about a dangerous virus destroying life on earth when all of a sudden, it turned into a vampire show - The Passage.