Welcome to Patience, Colorado. It has great views, friendly people and an alien that just happened to crash his spaceship on the outskirts of town and has been hiding there ever since. To make matters more complicated, he's been sucked into a murder investigation and is now the town doctor. That doesn't sound complicated at all, right? That's just the beginning of Resident Alien, the Syfy adaptation of the Dark Horse Comics story from Peter Hogan and Steve Parkhouse. The series premieres tonight on Syfy, but I thought I would give you a few spoiler free thoughts on the show before that.
The show is led brilliantly by Alan Tudyk, who plays Dr. Harry Vanderspeigle, an alien who is currently stranded on Earth after a mission that went horribly wrong. After trying to lay low, he's met by the local Sheriff (played by Corey Reynolds) and dragged into a murder investigation. A few short steps later, and he ends up becoming the town doctor. Before I get too ahead of myself here, let me share my overall impressions of the first episode.
First off, they fit an astonishing amount of content and character building into one episode. Sure most of it is about Harry, and his narration throughout the episode is hilarious. We also get plenty of backstory on the strong and intriguing Asta (played by Sara Tomko). The dynamic between the two is built very quickly and their chemistry with each passing scene really drew me in. Throw in the town bartender D'Arcy (played by Alice Wetterlund) and you get a nice mix of the drama and comedy. Listen to Tomko and Wetterlund talk about the first impression that Asta and D'Arcy had of Harry in this clip from my interview with the two of them:
We learn very quickly that there is much more to Asta that her rough exterior and quick wit. Sure watching things play out with Harry is fun in this first episode, but Asta's story has a lot of drama and really leads to an unconventional connection between the two. It is also the beginning of what will be a clear internal struggle for Harry and his ultimate mission. At first I was surprised that we learned so much, so quickly in this episode about Asta. As it turns out, it was a pretty smart move by the writers to really get the ball rolling on the big picture of the series and the question of humanity from the outside looking in.
Speaking of rough, they don't get much rougher than Sheriff Mike himself. In a way he is your typical "takes his job too seriously" small town cop, and his radar is up about pretty much everything. Sure, in this case, he's totally right and he just doesn't know it. This is a guy that clashes with almost everyone. Even Mayor Ben, who might just be one of the nicest and non-confrontational guys in the world. In my interview with Reynolds and Fiehler, I asked them about the differences between the two. Here's what they had to say:
There's something else very interesting about Mayor Ben, and that's his son Max. You'll find out that Max has a big moment in this first episode, and it looks like something that is not going to be resolved any time soon. I can't spoil it for you, but I will say that it could create yet another fun and interesting character dynamic.
The beauty part of Resident Alien is that it's equal parts predictable alien on Earth show and unique perspective. Sure there are some fish out of water moments, and times where Harry really does look like the town weirdo. There are also plenty of times where the richness of these characters really comes through, and there are some really relatable human moments. It's also a show that is funny without trying too hard. I'm not just talking about "alien doesn't know what (insert expression here) means" kind of funny. It's the sharp edge of Sheriff Mike, it's the naive nature of Mayor Ben, it's D'Arcy being just as unfiltered as Harry is and we love them all for it. You have to go into this series expecting certain moments, because it's still about an alien and how could you not? At the same time, there is real depth to the supporting cast. I'll also refer back to the bigger picture of the series, and this is straight from the synopsis provided by Syfy: "Are human beings worth saving?"
I'll let you be the judge, but I will tell you this much, Resident Alien is definitely well worth your time. Watch it every Wednesday, beginning January 27th, at 10pm ET on Syfy. My full interviews with the members of the cast will be coming up on Episode 352 of the podcast. Make sure you listen for some great teases for the rest of the season!
Photo Credit: James Dittinger/SYFY