Resident Alien (2021) s01e01

“Resident Alien: The TV Show” is not Resident Alien: The Comic Book. And it turns out, that arrangement works just fine.

When I first heard about the TV show, I was interested but more excited comic creators Peter Hogan and Steve Parkhouse would get to finish the comic, which has been low-selling, absolutely sublime, and wholesome in the best way. So I spent the pilot waiting for the show to reach that sublime and wholesome. It doesn’t. And it doesn’t try.

Instead, the show leverages lead Alan Tudyk’s constantly weird and funny performance as an alien pretending to be human who finds himself all of a sudden required to pretend to be human amongst the natives with nothing but a steady diet of “Law & Order” reruns to inform him.

The episode opens sheriff Corey Reynolds and deputy Elizabeth Bowen heading out to Tudyk’s cabin—the show takes place in Small-town Colorado, Canada—to ask Tudyk to consult on a murder. See, the town doctor has been murdered and the only other doctor in town is Tudyk. Only Tudyk’s been an alien for four months and no knows because previously he was just a seasonal resident.

Even before Tudyk really gets to show his stuff—and it’s when he plays off Sara Tomko, which is one of the comic’s core relationships and it’s beautifully realized onscreen—but even before Tudyk does anything… “Resident Alien: The Show” is worth it for Corey Reynolds. His comic timing is phenomenal, playing this absurd macho small-town sheriff who all of a sudden drops into these outlandish comedic rants and Reynolds sells every second of it. He gets to be the first consistent “Alien” laugh riot, with Tudyk only reaching those levels in the second half. And Tudyk’s got a lot more drama, whereas Reynolds just gets to be hilarious every time he’s on.

Most of Tudyk’s drama involves Tomko. She’s his erstwhile sidekick (more she was the murdered doctor’s assistant and doesn’t trust Tudyk so wants to keep an eye on him) and the pilot’s arc has them gradually bonding, though both with some reservations. Tomko’s good; “Resident Alien” requires a lot of its moving pieces to be unqualified successes and Tomko’s one of them. Tudyk and the writing (from Chris Sheridan) are the other two. Everything else is gravy, including Reynolds. So very impressed with the Tomko stuff.

Other apparently regular cast members include Levi Fiehler as the inexperienced, baby-faced mayor (which takes a while to get going but works) and Alice Wetterlund as the town bartender who’s pals with Tomko and potentially sweet on Tudyk.

There’s also Fiehler’s son, Jason Maybaum, who can see through Tudyk’s human disguise at the alien visage beneath, which provides a lot of comedy and, well, alien terror.

“Resident Alien” is not the comic adaptation I was expecting (and partially dreading). It’s ribald instead of sublime, sincere instead of wholesome; still an absolute delight.

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