blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

What We Do in the Shadows (2019) s03e05 – The Chamber of Judgement

It’s a very situational comedy type of episode, with the cast pairing off again for side adventures before coming together at the end. The main plot is Kayvan Novak and Natasia Demetriou’s first time meting out justice at the Vampiric Council. Right after they decide who gets to sit on the throne. It’s a series of good bits, starting with Kristen Schaal teasing Harvey Guillén, then the throne bickering (the show nods at “Game of Thrones” without ever bringing it up), and then the actual cases before Novak and Demetriou. One of those cases—involving a return guest star (Chris Sandiford)—ends up being the crucial one the rest of the episode tracks. Any others mentioned are just gags.

At the same time, new duo Matt Berry and Mark Proksch are going over to neighbor Anthony Atamanuik’s for a guys’ night. Atamanuik and his human friends want to watch sports; Proksch has brought an Agatha Christie role-playing game. Presumably, it’s going to be a very dull evening. Then Atamanuik reveals he’s got another reason for inviting everyone over, and the subplot charges course. A little bit down the line in the subplot, we get an absolutely hilarious but complete throwaway scene with Berry playing lawyer, just so it can all tie together for the finale.

And then it ends up being something of a bridging episode; its only point is to bring Sandiford into the show as semi-regular.

The episode’s funny. The performances are all good. The script—credited to William Meny—misses quite a few apparent tangents and details. At least two of them seem like they would’ve provided better material than what they’ve got. For example, Atamanuik gets tiresome fast, and there’d be more of a joke to the situation with more thoughtful details. It’s situational comedy without fully realized situations. There are also too many throwaway gags; they run through the jokes this episode. None of them build. It only works because of the cast and Kyle Newacheck’s direction. They’re able to make the one-note jokes funny, time and again. Especially with Sandiford, part of his character is being a one-note joke, and it gets thinner as the episode progresses. The script doesn’t even have a real punchline for it. Just a series of gags and then an epilogue gag.

Also, the episode wastes Proksch, who keeps introducing potentially lively elements, and then the episode goes somewhere else without him. It’s an inglorious use of Proksch for sure. And maybe having seven-ish regulars is too many.

But most of the laughs are good. Most of the jokes land. They’d better too; they’re such easy ones.

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