‘Ash vs. Evil Dead’ Season 1, Episode 1: ‘El Jefe’
The king is back baby. First things first, what a treat it is to see Bruce Campbell back in the role he was born to play.
This new series continues in the tradition of Evil Dead 2 and Army of Darkness (although since AoD is owned by a different distributor references to that flick are not allowed in this show) rather than the original Evil Dead and its gory remake from a few years back. This is straight up self-deprecating schlock—which may turn off some people, myself not included.
Time has not been kind to our hero. The first time we see Ash here he is squeezing his beer belly into a custom made corset so he can stroll down to the local bar (where he winds up in the bathroom with a middle aged floozy) with something resembling the slim physique he had thirty years ago. Most days he wears a wooden prosthetic hand instead of his trade mark chainsaw and boomstick. Also, he’s kind of a screw-up.
In this first episode it is Ash himself, who, stoned and trying to impress a girl he hopes to sleep with, once again opens the Book of the Dead and reads from its passages to unleash the powers of evil. Personally I think it is a smart choice to establish the Ash character as a bit of comic relief early on, as it gives him a lot of room to grow back into his old shoes, and makes it a much more satisfying moment when he finally does strap on the old battle gear.
Other than Ash, the supporting cast in this new show include Ray Santiago as ‘Pablo’ who works with Ash at a local retail store and has apparently heard a few stories here and there as he tries to get involved in the undead warfare anyway he can. We also meet Dana Delorenzo as Kelly Maxwell, a new hire at said retail store who gets pulled into the mix as well. Ash tries to bed her early on as well and nearly loses his other hand for his efforts.
Jill Marie Jones plays Amanda Fisher, a cop who stumbles into a house infected with deadites, who has the first official battle scene with the undead in this episode. Lucy Lawless also pops up, and is said to have a big role later on, which has got me fairly stoked. So far, she’s just background fodder though.
Sam Raimi directed this debut episode and there’s mucho callbacks to the original trilogy, including that famous super-fast tracking shot and the endearing low-rent (but very very fun) special effects. The tone of this show is just self-deprecating jock humor, and so far, it is working on all cylinders. This episode didn’t blow me away, but I was grinning through most of it.
If it can manage to just stay entertaining even without Raimi’s hand at the helm of every episode, this will find a permanent spot on my Saturday night rotation.