There are certain winning combinations that are irresistible; peaches and cream, tortilla chips and salsa, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead and a series that opens with a song that recaps the show thus far. Of course there is the added twist of exploding heads to sweeten this deal and BrainDead gives us all three.
This latest King project is funny, it is after all a comedy horror series, and yet it manages to leave the viewer feeling a bit of dread. It may be based on “The Puppet Masters” but that underlying uneasiness so evident in” The Invasion of the Body Snatchers” is also present.
The music is comically busy, an ode to the delivery system perhaps, it does make one think if ants scurrying along. Here is an example of the genius behind the series. Having the alien parasite being delivered by ants is disturbing.
(Anyone who has experienced a home invasion by these little creatures knows how indestructible and insidious they are. Ants occupy any space by overwhelming the area with sheer, and seemingly, never ending numbers.)
When threatened the insects are aggressive, just as the politicians are in BrainDead after they have been infected with the parasite. While most TV critics are waxing lyrical about the political slant and how clever the Kings are in making veiled statements about Washington, it is all about the parasites and the ants.
In fact, in episode two of BrainDead, the little “Cancer Girl” (Annie) tells Laurel (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) that the Washington of today is no different than it was in Lincoln’s time. (Out of the mouths of children eh?) The writers suggest that ” politics is politics” regardless of the time period and that may be a “deep” as the Kings go in that direction.
Thus far the parasite bearing ants are not just targeting politicians. These industrious alien creatures are targeting everybody. A chess player in the park, the doctor and any person they come in contact with. It is the proximity to the country’s capital that makes these denizens of Capital Hill an easy target.
(There is a political nod and wink to singing parodist Mark Russell with the “opening recap song.”)
Politicians are what the show focusses on as it is topical and an election year. While this is the tag of the show, it is the parasites and the slowly emerging awareness of a few players that makes the series. We have no doubt that Laurel will be the main instigator in trying to stop this invasion.
We can also be pretty sure that her brother the senator (and now former Whip), played by Danny Pino will eventually fall after almost winning against the ants. (It is also equally apparent that Gareth Ritter, played by Aaron Tveit, will become Laurel’s ally and it may be quite possible that the chess master will join ranks as well.)
One word of complaint. The heads that are exploding are doing so in a fairly mild fashion. There are no bone fragments and very little blood, relatively speaking, and they are not overly “explosive.” Did no one watch Scanners? Fair enough this is comedy horror for network television, versus HBO, FOX, et al, but come on guys and gals let’s gore it up a bit.
BrainDead is good television. It has a great cast (Winstead alone could carry this show and is possibly the only women alive who could convince this writer to take a copy of Watchtower…) and it has a script that is pithy, funny and topical. It also has those darlings of the TV critic world; Michelle and Robert King as show creators.
CBS airs the series on Mondays. Tune in and see what you think. Is this a flat out satire about Washington and the state of the country? Or is it all about the ants…