SYFY’s RESIDENT ALIEN is a throwback to when the network was called Sci Fi and regularly aired science fiction originals. Alan Tudyk plays the ‘resident alien’ an alien who crashed landed on Earth and was forced to take a human form (named Harry) to try to blend in. Along the way, he meets a quirky group of townsfolk who presumably will show him the true meaning of humanity. Along with the fish out of water setup, the first episode established a murder mystery – someone has killed the town doctor, which serves as the impetus for the alien to enter the town.
This episode gives us a longer, humorous look at Harry’s adjustment as the replacement town doctor. This quirky role seems tailor made for Tudyk, whose bedside manner reminds me of Doctor House, but without the medical brilliance. This focus on the medical clinic also allows us to meet more townspeople, including one who seems poised to step into a bigger role moving forward.
Episode two pays lip service to the murder mystery, but devotes most of its time to Harry’s rivalry with the mayor’s kid, who happens to be the only person in town who can see Harry’s alien form. This serves as a reminder that Harry isn’t really ‘a good guy’ and serves as the source of more of the excellently dark comedy that made the first episode so enjoyable. While I’m guessing Harry will, with the help of the townspeople, learn the true meaning of humanity, I’ve seen enough to know that this show can subvert expectations and go a different direction.
While the plot is fun and the supporting actors provide strong performances, some of the best moments come from Tudyk’s physical comedy through his portrayal of an alien trying to learn to be human. Usually I don’t like voiceover explanations because I feel they are the easy way out, but in this case, Harry’s internal monologue is hilarious and fits in well with the fact that he has no one to talk to.
The show has a sci-fi premise in that the main character is an alien, at its heart it is a fish out of water story that balances drama, mystery, and dark comedy perfectly. Beyond the concept, this show doesn’t rely oh hard science so it quite accessible to non-hardcore science fiction fans. I obviously recommend starting with the pilot, but the intro does an adequate job of catching you up if you missed it. There are some curse words, so parents should take that into account.
The second episode of RESIDENT ALIEN is now available via SYFY’s On-Demand service. Check back soon for my thoughts on episode 3 which premieres today.
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