Remember The Evil Dead? That cheesy, B horror film with Bruce Campbell? Remember Campbell’s character, Ash, that wise-cracking anti-hero with a chainsaw for a right hand? Well, he’s back with a new television show: Ash vs Evil Dead.
Let’s talk about that.
It’s been thirty years since the original Evil Dead, and Campbell shows it. Campbell was in his physical prime back then: lean, wiry, and not a bit of fat anywhere on his body. Now, the first thing TV Ash does is putting the screws on a leather corset for the latest one-night stand. But then again, everything about Ash is meant to comb over the fact that he’s not young anymore. The movie Ash was a definite bad-ass…back in 1981. Thirty years later, he’s a fat, middle-aged man who relies on booze and pity to get a bathroom-quickie. Sometimes it’s best for the stud to retire, and the fact that Ash can’t see he’s not that guy anymore leaves the audience wincing.
As interesting (to a point) as the new Ash is though, his new partners leave something to be desired. Ray Santiago’s Pablo is the typical stock sidekick character who worships Ash. Pablo’s as good as the role allows him to be, but the character’s validity is stunted with his Cosmo Kramer-styled haircut. Like everything else in the series, the haircut is supposed to pay homage to the past, much like the entire television series is one to the original films (and just as the Evil Dead movies paid that very same homage to the Super 8 films of the early 1960s). Pablo’s job is to be Ash’s conscience, which is difficult given the character is flippant and self-centered to begin with.
Dana DeLorenzo’s Kelly is the eye candy. A young, beautiful woman with a chip on her shoulder and doesn’t take shit from anyone? If any of that sounds familiar, it’s because she’s also a stock character. Kelly is the latest model of the “damaged loner” type found so frequently in modern-day television for today’s moodier, “edgy” audience. Unfortunately, the “tough chick” attitude can only go so far without becoming a cliché. Only time will tell if Kelly will grow out of the confrontational eye candy.
Then there’s Lucy Lawless herself. She made her debut in the Raimi universe (semi-shared universe of Evil Dead producer Sam Raimi’s works) with Xena: Warrior Princess, and that role was definitely something to remember. She’s had incredible chemistry with Bruce Campbell during the course of Xena, making for some great buddy-buddy moments. But Evil Dead posits them on opposing sides. This will be breaking new ground for the two longtime actors, and given that Evil Dead is cheesy to begin with, their new dynamic may fall flat under all the one-liners and exaggerated tomfoolery.
The Evil Dead franchise was a horror-comedy that lived and died on Ash being a cold jackass who only looks out for himself. The producers are trying to pigeon-hole Ash back into the stock character he’s always been, but thirty years has damaged Ash more than the suspension of disbelief can excuse. Campbell isn’t the Ash he was, and trying to be that guy again just doesn’t cut it.
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