What We Do in the Shadows stepped into the light (so to speak!) this Wednesday night, as FX’s series adaptation of the 2014 indie comedy made its debut. Did you think it was bloody funny?
Based on the mockumentary-style movie starring Jemaine Clement (Flight of the Conchords) and Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok director), who here serve as EPs, Shadows follows a trio of vampires who for centuries have inhabited, if not lorded over, Staten Island. Nandor “the Relentless” (played by Kayvan Novak) had been a “ferocious soldier” in the Ottoman Empire, while Nadja (Natasia Demetriou) long ago turned and then wed Laszlo (Matt Berry), who at the time fancied himself “the most handsome man” in his village… full of lepers. In a tiny subplot, Nadja stalks Jeff (“Jeff?”), whom she believes to be the reincarnation of Gregor, a lover she decapitated in the throes of passion (and then kept on going until her needs were fulfilled).
The house has a fourth roommate, Colin (Mark Proksch), who tends to harsh everyone’s mellow as a beige-loving “energy vampire” who can either bore you to death or enrage you. Expect much more from him in the episodes to come.
Living (in the cellar) among them is Guillermo (Harvey Guillén), Nandor’s eager-beaver human “familiar” who idolizes Interview With a Vampire’s Armand and in the pilot anticipates being turned into a vampire by his master, on the occasion of his 10th anniversary of servitude. Guillermo’s duties occasionally involve rounding up virgins on whom to feast, though as he notes, he’s “not a killer” but someone who “finds people who are easy to kill.”
Setting the pilot and season in motion is Nandor’s reading of a letter they received from Baron Afanas (Star Trek: Discovery‘s Doug Jones, of course), a great immortal who’s due for an imminent visit. That has Laszlo and Nadja a bit on edge as they both had secret, “intense affairs” with the baron that involved “acrobatic stuff.” Nandor readies for the baron by shopping for glitter (to fancy a Twilight vampire) and “creepy” (crepe!) paper, while Guillermo does his best to decorate the Stairmaster-crowded attic as well as lure a pair of local LARPers to serve as a virginal feast.
Once the baron emerges from his coffin, he ironically feeds on Nadja and Laszlo’s own human familiar, much to Guillermo’s chagrin. After getting familiar with the documentary crew, Afanas affirms his plan for Nandor & Co. to wield their vampire might and take over the world. (Alas for the hungry baron, Colin got to the LARPers firstzzzzzz.)
As the episode ends, Guillermo braces for the “something special” he had been expecting from Nandor, by baring his neck. He gets… a glitter portrait of the two of them, to commemorate Guillermo’s “two years” of servitude. Well, that bites!