Thursday, September 30, 2010

First Chapters of Todd and the Book of Pure Evil Not Bad

Warning: Spoilers
(spoilage factor: about the same as a stuffed armadillo violated by a homunculus)

Imagine if Bill and Ted and their friends were inadvertently thrown into the role of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and her gang, and if the writing style had a hefty dose of vulgarity that would do a View Askew production proud. That'd give you an approximation of the new TV series Todd and the Book of Pure Evil.

With the first two half-hour episodes airing tonight on Space, the show seems to be a reboot of a 2003 Canadian-made short film of the same name. Not having seen the original (I only stumbled across it on IMDB while looking for a write-up on the modern take), I can't comment on whether this was a good idea or not, or how faithful the new version is to its predecessor.

In and of itself though, the 2010 take on TATBOPE isn't bad. Sure, there were times when I had to ask myself if it was too juvenile, but then, when has that ever stopped me from watching something before? Besides, while it's not a constant riot, there are enough laughs and well-written lines, and an honest enough portrayal of highschool social interactions (barring the demonic incidents, of course) and the hopes, insecurities, betrayals, stupidies, and yes, angst, of teenagers, to make it worth watching. In fact, with the show in its infancy, I'll give episode 2 credit for having one of the best lines of dialogue I've seen on TV all year:

"Science doesn't love you. Science doesn't even like you."

Starring Alex House in the title role, the show's first episode introduces us to Todd, a metalhead who's at the bottom of the highschool pecking order, dreaming of becoming a rockstar and getting heartthrob Jenny to like him by winning the school's battle of the bands. Problem is, his band, Barbarian Apocalypse (comprised only of Todd on guitar and his chubby, one-armed buddy Curtis on drums), can't even make it past the try-outs. Goaded by a trio of mysterious stoner metalheads in the school parking lot to keep on trying, Todd stumbles upon The Book of Pure Evil (apparently known to all true metalheads) and reads a spell to make him a killer musician. Problem is, while it makes him unnaturally talented, anytime he plays, the music has disastrous results for those who listen. Meanwhile, a group of cultists is trying to obtain the book for their own nefarious designs. Todd's dream girl Jenny comes to his aid, revealing that her father disappeared while investigating rumours of the book. Curtis joins the fight, along with Hannah (Melanie Leishman), a geeky girl with a not-so-secret crush on Todd. The problem is, everytime the group tries to destroy the book, it somehow survives and disappears or is stolen and re-hidden. A little reminiscent of Reaper, each episode involves some new misuse of the spells within and the gang's efforts to battle the forces of darkness and recover the book.

Each episode also features a cameo by Jason Mewes (mouthy drug-dealer "Jay" in the View Askewniverse) as the somewhat helpful, wisdom-dispensing school janitor Jimmy. Playing the role without any over-the-top antics, Mewes reminded me a bit of the janitor in The Breakfast Club, except there's always something just a little quirky about his advice.

I'm not sure if Todd and the Book of Pure Evil will be consistently entertaining enough to make it into a permanent spot on my viewing roster, but at first glance it's certainly good enough to continue watching on a trial basis.

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