Crazyhead: Buffy Done Misfits Style (Review)

promotional image for Crazyhead

Brought to you by the same man who created the brilliantly off-kilter “super heroes” doing community service series; Misfits – Howard Overman, Crazyhead  is kind of like a British Buffy with attitude living in Bristol.  She is also part of a double act consisting of two 20-somethings who have a special skill.

Amy has been plagued with visions and hallucinations. She has been on medication to control these annoyances and had just come off her meds.

She soon learns she can see demons. On a night out when she goes outside for a cigarette Amy sees her first one.  When the demon, who is in a human body, realizes Amy can see him, it chases her. Amy steps into a pothole in the car park surface, trips and is knocked out.

Raquel, another 20 something girl, arrives with a retractable baton and beats the demon soundly. The thing runs off and Raquel takes Amy to hospital. There she meets Callum Waverly, the hospital psychiatrist.

Amy’s savour explains that they can both see demons and defeat them. She tells the injured girl that they should team together to take on these demonic creatures.

Afterward, a demon tries to kill Amy at her workplace; a bowling alley, and she escapes the building. The demon goes after her and runs right in front of Suzanne’s car. Amy’s roomie and best mate hits the creature and it dies.

The thing possesses Suzanne and Amy calls Raquel to help.

Fans of Misfits will recognize the style and delivery that Overman brings to the table. (Misfits was a summer replacement programme for the wildly popular Skins on E4 in the UK.)

This new demon hunting series has already been compared to Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  While this is almost inevitable, what with one of the two heroines being a blonde attractive young woman, it is a bit off the mark.

Although to be fair, the presence of an  Angel-type demon protagonist, who has history with Raquel,  does make the comparison even more likely. However, the demon hunters here are destined to work as a team.  Amy and Raquel will, it seems, eventually double-team the creatures with the help of Sawyer.

This is more Misfits meets Shadowhunters.  The demons in this verse are violent and when they die they jump to another body. Some have magical powers and their leader is a professional man named Callum. (Played by the splendid Tony Curran from Defiance.)

Crazyhead is earthier and grittier than Buffy and it lacks the pop culture references that Joss Whedon thrived on in the American series. The other big difference is that this show takes place in the UK.

The language is coarser (There is a lot of “effing and blinding,” aka swearing, going on here.  If the use of the “F” word offends you stay away.) and the action does not include any martial arts type fighting.

Choreographic fight sequences are short, sharp and rely on brutish endeavors, there is no wire work here, except for that flying baseball bat. Overman’s demonic warriors are street-thugs versus Bruce Lee wannabes.

Both young women are more “lower class” with Raquel being hilariously un-pc. She actually gives Amy a nipple pinch to “seal the deal” and this puts the wind up the “new girl.”

This is comedy horror delivered more along the lines of Overman’s Britain and less like Simon Pegg’s Spaced or Shaun of the Dead England. In another world Raquel would fit right in with the community service gang in Misfits.

In essence, Crazyhead is rude, crude and socially unacceptable. It is also funny as hell and worth the time spent watching it. Like Misfits the jokes are not overly sophisticated but they earn a lot of chuckles and belly laughs.

(On a sidenote: For those who have never seen the superlative E4 series Misfits, stop right now and head over to Hulu. The entire series is on offer and well worth the binge. While the series went downhill a bit after Robert Sheehan left, it is brilliant telly.)

Crazyhead is not Buffy the Vampire Slayer and it is not really Misfits either. It is, however, a slight blend of both; delivered with a dry, and what some Americans will find coarse, British wit.

Cara Theobold and Susan Wokoma have a brilliant chemistry together and may well be the best new double act on television. These actresses knock it out of the park.

Head over to Netflix right now and start watching this six episode treat from across the pond. You will be glad you did.

Cast:

Killjoys: Canadian Export Fun

Poster for Killjoys
SyFy is offering quite a number of fair to quality new programs this year and Canadian export Killjoys is a fun little series featuring some storylines that may not reek of originality but the cast make it work. Starring Aaron Ashmore (Warehouse 13, The Shrine), twin brother of Shawn (The Following, X-Men: Days of Future Past) as John, partner/employee of Dutch who are a couple of “bounty hunters” who work for the RAC.

Dutch, played by Hannah John-Kamen (Misfits, Dark Souls I & II), is a strong female character who has been trained by her father (Rob Stewart) as some sort of assassin from childhood. John’s brother, a decorated war hero with a kill order against him is rescued by the pair in the first episode. D’Avin, played by Luke Macfarlene, becomes a reluctant “unofficial” member of the bounty hunter’s team and in the second episode is actively helping on Dutch and John’s latest warrant.

The bounty hunter leader is surprised by her father’s re-entry into her life, Daddy dear is there to enlist her skills as an assassin and he drops off a red box. The receptacle is a reminder of her childhood and holds a weapon and a target that she has one week to eliminate.

During the latest warrant, D’Avin and Dutch bond as they try to complete the job and get off a warlike planet separated by crime lord areas and scavengers who steal anything, including things nailed down. The writing is not too shabby; episode two uses a Shaun of the Dead line, “Stop pointing that gun at my mother!”

Killjoys may not have a huge budget, but really how much is needed for a show set in a world that is dystopian at best with a lot of buildings in ruinous decay and Spartan decor for official offices and/or buildings. There are not a lot of gunfights so far and the FX are pretty impressive but nothing to write home about.

In this instance it is the actors, as mentioned before, that make this series work. Ashmore, an excellent actor by anyone’s standards, could interact admirably with a lamp. Given that his two costars are also capable performers the chemistry moves the plot forward with ease.

It is hard to pick on a program with a positive female character who is intelligent, can kick major bad guy arse and show just a bit of vulnerability. There may be a let down as the show progresses, after all this is only episode two and SyFy does have a reputation…

Before the end credits on episode two roll, there is a pretty decent shoot out and some mild hand to hand combat, performed by Ashmore, or his stuntman. The team now seem to be pretty comfortable with the two brother’s working for Dutch, after she makes the offer and those red boxes from Daddy look to be a future plot thread that will not go away.

Pretty entertaining fare, although nothing to induce too much in the way of thinking. Just a fun combination of good actors and action that does not, thus far, bore the viewer. Another SyFy offering that airs on Fridays.