At its peak, SyFy’s ‘Resident Alien’ reminded me of ‘Northern Exposure’, one of my all-time favorite drama films, with its folk-like charm. The writing isn’t quite up to scratch – it relies too heavily on simple character beats rather than nuanced storytelling – but it’s a reliable, lovable show at a time when people could use some comfort and ease.
And there is enough talent and potential in it to make something much richer and deeper in the future. It’s based on a concept that makes a little bit of everything possible, from science fiction to murder mysteries to fish-out-of-the-water humor, and looks like it’s going to be a much-needed success for SyFy, a throwback to other basic cable dramas that served as comfort food for millions.
Resident Alien ”is built on the Peter Hogan and Steve Parkhouse comic book of the same name, which was published by Dark Horse Comics in early 2012 (and is still active). Alan Tudyk plays an alien tourist on a mission that crashes into a small mountain town in Colorado and is forced to take the place of a reclusive doctor on the outskirts of town, Harry Vanderspeigle.
When the town’s real doctor is murdered, Harry is taken out of the hills and taught how to be a person, while also investigating the crime with the help of the late doctor’s nurse, Asta (Sara Tomko), and the town sheriff (Corey Reynolds). .
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to be a weekly mystery show in which a clumsy alien disguised as a man, played by Alan Tudyk, has to solve crimes, and let me just say I’ll watch that show every week. Surprisingly, the first few episodes don’t really make use of this skill, as they often drag their characters along in ways that sound more primetime soapy than necessary.
Even ‘Northern Exposure’ had more self-contained stories bundled into separate episodes than ‘Resident Alien’, which essentially tells an ongoing story of Harry’s efforts to blend into ordinary human society in the first few episodes.
He grapples with basic human values such as handshakes and decorum, while also looking for something he misplaced during the crash landing and struggles with the fact that a child in town can see his true alien form. There’s a more urgent version of all of this, both in individual episodes and as a whole.
Despite its confusing structure, “Resident Alien” is a fun series to watch, thanks in part to the talented cast. Tudyk captures the idiosyncrasy of an alien who must learn not only to deal with human behavior, but also the feelings and connections that accompany it, things that are not particularly important to his species.
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Tudyk captures the character’s uncomfortable obsession with his predicament without going too far, essentially learning how to behave like a human by watching cable TV.