RESIDENT ALIEN, a new series on the SYFY network, is a throwback to the roots of the channel, back when the network was called the Sci-Fi Channel and it featured science fiction shows like BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, FARSCAPE, and SLIDERS. Given the quality of the pilot, I have hopes that RESIDENT ALIEN can lead a renaissance of similar shows on the network.
Based on a Dark Horse comic, RESIDENT ALIEN tells the story of an alien stranded on earth who has to try to fit in with humans. The narrative arc that drives the story is a murder mystery that he gets drawn into. It’s like HOUSE meets SHERLOCK meets THE GOOD DOCTOR meets MEN IN BLACK … which sounds like a lot, but it results in a very entertaining show. RESIDENT ALIEN is both funny and suspenseful, which is a tough combination to pull off.
Alan Tudyk is perfectly cast as the alien, Harry. Tudyk’s science fiction bona fides are unassailable, having played zany characters in Firefly, Dollhouse, and Doom Patrol. Playing an alien allows Tudyk to dial his performance up to 11, and he manages to create a character that is both off-puttingly bizarre and somehow likeable. Perhaps most interestingly, Harry is kind of bad and good at the same time, which makes him an interesting character.
As with any show set in a small town, we are also provided the requisite supporting cast of quirky townspeople. Corey Reynolds’ Sheriff Thompson is a standout amongst the people Harry works with in the pilot. While Harry’s attempts to fit in drive much of the humor, the townspeople actually deliver many of the biggest laughs.
While the writing and acting drives the show, RESIDENT ALIEN has impressive special effects, especially for a cable show. The brief scenes with Harry’s spaceship are impressively rendered. The alien design evokes the classic alien design with an aquatic slant that evokes the creature in THE SHAPE OF WATER.
I really enjoyed the pilot. The murder mystery is a nice way to bring Harry into contact with the townspeople and I liked how the story slowly teased out the bigger picture question – what is Harry’s mission? It isn’t a pure comedy, but it has plenty of humor derived from its fish out of water premise. The show does have some cursing and adult themes, so some parental discretion is advised.
The first episode of RESIDENT ALIEN is set to premiere on Wednesday January 27th on SYFY at 10pm Eastern/Pacific.
Are you a fan of Alan Tudyk? Are you going to watch this show? Feel free to chat with me on Twitter or leave a comment below!