Mild SPOILERS within…
Do you feel Fall TV slowly coming in? Besides all the shows I’ll be covering for here starting with Arrow this week (and yes, Legends of Tomorrow next week), there’s plenty of returning and new shows I won’t have time to cover. So to do a little lip service on that front, I’ll be briefly talking about two shows that premiered on Sunday that you might want to put on your radar.
First up, we got the returning horror-comedy fest that is Ash vs. Evil Dead, coming back after Ash (Bruce Campbell) decided to head off to Jacksonville and leave fighting Deadites behind. That lasts for about five minutes in the season premiere before some Deadites sent by frenemy Ruby (Lucy Lawless) force Ash, Pablo, and Kelly to head to Ash’s hometown to find out what is going on. The thing is Ash is not so much the hometown hero as he is the hometown pariah, thanks to what happened back in the cabin all those years ago (you know, the dismembering friends and all). Pablo is still dealing with that creepy experience with the Book of the Dead, while Kelly is still all in for laying waste to Deadites. And Ruby herself needs help to deal with those demon kids she created in last season’s finale, now rapidly grown up and just as creepy.
The season premiere wastes little time getting to the gore and slapstick that made the first season so fun, quickly dealing with Ash’s Jacksonville stuff in glorious blood drenched fashion before we even get to the main title. I mean, this might be the bloodiest episode of the series so far, where everyone is covered in gunk at least twice. Although its hard to see where this season will go, its already set up some possibilities for trouble with its current cast, and new people like Ash’s dad (the Six Million Dollar Man himself, Lee Majors), who shows Ash didn’t fall far from the family tree of sleaze. But most importantly, its a fun half hour of gory, cheesy humor that I’m glad is back.
On the other end, we get the more cerebral and thought provoking sci-fi drama, Westworld, based on the 70’s movie made by Michael Crichton. I was already interested in seeing this because of the talent behind it (Jonathan Nolan, Lisa Joy, and J.J. Abrams) are responsible for one of my favorite prime-time genre shows, Person of Interest, and to be honest, Westworld doesn’t disappoint. What is surprising and useful for the show’s longevity is that we don’t have focus on the tourists like the movie, but also on the machines themselves. We get a glimpse of that in the pilot with Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood), who we see re-enact the start of the day on a constant loop, and when we see how the ends of those days go down, it makes those “new days” all the more tragic. And then there’s her relationship with Teddy (James Mardsen), whose identity gets revealed in a shocking scene of violence, and reframes a lot of what we think is going on.
What we focus on is how the tourists are allowed to indulge in their darkest and most monstrous impulses, like the mysterious Man In Black (Ed Harris), like they have been allowed to roam in a realistic version of the Red Dead Redemption videogame. And while the mysteries of Westworld (like that weird map and where that warehouse of broken robots is) are interesting, its the underline themes of the pilot that make this worth a watch. We get the discussions on the robots from their developers (played by Anthony Hopkins and Jeffrey Wright), and see how their advancement and software upgrades are making their creations more human, and unfortunately, unpredictable. There’s a lot to unravel in the first episode that has nothing to do with plot, and its that kind of exploration of artificial intelligence and what defines humanity that echoes stuff like the Battlestar Galactica remake and Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse. With HBO’s ease with more mature handling of stuff like this, and certainly a budget to match, Westworld is science-fiction television worth watching.
Don’t be surprised if I report on these shows after they run their season finales. And also, expect a little write-up on some returning DC shows I won’t be covering for NerdLush this season (like The Flash and Supergirl) very soon. But until then, if you’ve seen one or both shows, let’s chat about it below.