TV Reviews

November 1, 2015

“Ash v Evil Dead” S1, Ep. 1, “El Jefe”

NEuXaDTg3g1oxy_1_bWow! Did that just happen?

Was that really the first appearance of Bruce Campbell as Ash Williams, coupled with Sam and Ivan Rami behind the camera, in 23 years? Can a whole generation of horror fans actually have their prayers answered? And, with the hype having reached near “Walking Dead” levels, can the relaunch of this beloved property actually meet expectations?

STARZ has done a smash up job of raising the temperature and Campbell, along with female leads Jill Marie Jones and Lucy Lawless, were on point all summer promoting the show on the convention trail.

All that remained now was the actual show…

We find our aging protagonist suiting and booting it up at his trailer park, Deep Purple blasting in the background, on the prowl for a quick lay at his favorite dive bar. For long timers and newbies, it’s the perfect intro to Ash, the man and the myth. After thirty years, he’s still the same  Superman Loser, a hilarious mix of cockiness, ineptitude and swagger.

But a strange thing happens on the way to Ash’s bathroom bangout with his barfly bottom-feeder of choice. At a most…ahhh…inopportune time, shall we say, the object of Ash’s affection goes complete Deadite on him, causing him to recall a previous mishap with everyone’s favorite tome of evil, the Necronomicon Ex Mortis.

It turns out during another drug-addled sexual encounter, Ash “accidentally” read out some of those amazingly deadly incantations. In a totally Ash-style moment, he realizes that he again has unleashed absolute terror on an unsuspecting world. And he needs to beat feet out of town…

However, the plague of the Deadites is already sweeping the land, as that same night, Police Detective Amanda Fisher (Jones) and her partner have  a deadly encounter with the same honey responsible for Ash’s error. Totally Rami style insanity in the order of the night as Fisher discovers that the world of the Evil Dead sometimes goes crazy. Shell shocked in the aftermath, the detective has what seems to be a chance encounter with a mysterious Lucy Lawless, who seems to know more about the source of the problem than anyone not named Ash has a right to.

Over at the Shop Mart, Ash is unsuccessfully trying to finagle his check from his typically bad- news boss. While he wreaks his usual mayhem at work, we see Ash has a new Broham-In-Crime,  the Eraser-Headed Pablo (Ray Sanchez) and a completely age inappropriate (for Ash) female newbie, Kelly.

Pablo senses something is amiss with Ash, prompting him to, of course, pry about his father figure’s personal life. Ash brushes him off in favor of trying a total “no-shot” pickup chance with Kelly. It seems the former King  of Sugar has lost his touch.

While fumbling around in the stockroom, Ash is attacked by an especially bratty Bratz-style doll. Pablo intervenes to save a harried Ash and finally gets him to spill the flashback beans. As he hears Ash’s tale of woe, he relates a tale told by his appropriately mystical shaman uncle about a hero who would arise to destroy a great evil. This mythical figure, nicknamed “El Jefe” would deliver all humanity by his courage.

Of course, we know our beloved Ash meets the bill for the prophecy. But we also know that he’s spent the last thirty years or so dodging responsibility… So, predictably, Ash refuses this honor and proceeds to take off from work without permission. As he gets outside, however, the stuff is hitting the fan with weird weather, strange lights and other familiar signs. He hasn’t been gone five minutes when Kelly gets a call from her father (played ably by tonight’s director, Sam Rami) concerning her recently dead mother coming through the door. She and Pablo also abandon ship, leaving the pain-in-the-posterior boss to get taken over by a flying Deadite.

They catch up to Ash, despite Kelly’s objections, just in time to get hit by the first wave of Deadite evil. Chaos and bloodletting ensue. And Ash recovers his reason to return to being a badass.

In the end, like Arthur returning from Avalon, we find Ash with chainsaw hand at the ready, prepared to lead, once again declaring all things “groovy. ” A legend is reborn.ash-vs-evil-dead-bruce-campbell-tv-show

For a pilot and a reboot, Ep. 1 has few missteps for either old timers or newcomers. The Rami style is top form with his trademark pacing, jump cuts, blood spatter and POV switches. And the sheer, horror goofiness of the dialogue is spot on. Couple that with one of the greatest physical comedians of the past 30 years selling every sight gag like a human Warner Bros. cartoon and TV magic is in the air.

One of the visible dangers for the series is keeping the momentum up for a whole season. As mentioned before, the expectations are sky-high for this little production. Many of us greybeards came up singing hosannas to Rami and Campbell, eternally stating that all a staid, boring horror landscape needed was a REAL “Evil Dead” movie or show (gender flipped remakes unfairly not included).

So now we got what we’ve been crying for, Ageists. The creeping fear you feel right now is the possibility that this show might side into “Walking Dead” or “American Horror Story” type of mid-season aimlessness. Blasphemy, I know…

Also, the one note stereotype characters of Pablo and Kelly might wear thin in the 21st Century. Yes, I know, it’s a tongue-and-cheek send up of the goofy 70-80’s slasher “sidekick” characters (believe me, I was there for a lot of that). But, 10 more weeks of churro and ladyparts jokes might get stale.

But, why are we looking for trouble? “Ash v Evil Dead” has already got a second season order from STARZ based on the social media buzz… The reviews have been glowing… We have Ash again, people! Let’s just kick back, enjoy ourselves and be back here next week to take a groovy Buick ride to the heart of darkness.


About the Author

Jason Stewart
Jason Malcolm Stewart is a Northern California-based author, journalist and public relations/marketing professional. He holds degrees in Political Science and Comparative Religion, but can have a conversation without starting a small war. When he's not writing or reading, J. Malcolm spends his weekends talking about how to avoid being in a real-life horror movie. add blog



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