Bloody TV: What We Do in the Shadows comes to the small screen

by Fiona Rae / 26 March, 2019
What We Do in the Shadows, Thursday.

What We Do in the Shadows, Thursday.

RelatedArticlesModule - What We Do in the Shadows tv series fx

A popular TV genre gets a reboot, thanks to the comic genius of Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi.

Just when it seemed that Twilight had ruined the vampire genre forever, comedy geniuses Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi flew in and resurrected it – and their 2014 movie was so chock-full of ideas, it lives on in the form of a TV series.

What We Do in the Shadows (SoHo2, Sky 210, Thursday, 7.30pm) is again overseen by Clement and Waititi, but this time, with the backing of US network FX, it is set on New York’s Staten Island and features a different set of vampires.

Even though Clement, Waititi and Jonathan Brugh stamped their mark on the movie, it doesn’t seem wrong to have new characters – after all, if there are a vampires (and werewolves) in Wellington, why wouldn’t there be creatures of the night elsewhere?

Clement says the idea arose while they were making the movie: “A Housewives of … series, where you could go to different places and do different groups of vampires.”

The characters of Nandor (Kayvan Novak) and Laszlo (Matt Berry) have similarities to Waititi and Clement’s Viago and Vladislav, but sharing the lead is Natasia Demetriou as Nadja. Plus, an entirely new undead sucker has been created for the series: “energy vampire” Colin (Mark Proksch), who drains people’s energy just by talking to them. Everyone knows one.

There’s also Nandor’s put-upon familiar Guillermo (Harvey Guillén) and a cameo by the amazing Doug Jones, who was the amphibious creature in The Shape of Water (and, for the nerds, Saru in Star Trek: Discovery).

As with the movie, the 10-part TV series takes the form of an observational documentary, in which a crew follows the vampires and their associates as they negotiate their living arrangements and intersect with modern life.

It’s the same juxtaposition of the horrifying and the mundane: please don’t leave half-drunk people in the basement, Nandor asks his flatmates. Drain them fully before moving on to a new victim.

There’s plenty of vampire-movie influences and references, and Clement and Waititi say the Metallica documentary Some Kind of Monster is in the mix. Scaling down the movie for TV has not been a problem.

Says Clement: “People think of television as smaller scale, but it’s actually larger, because you have to have so many different stories. I love that.”

There is also the tantalising prospect of character crossovers. Who knows? Maybe officers Minogue and O’Leary will turn up on Staten Island. “It’s possible.”

This article was first published in the March 23, 2019 issue of the New Zealand Listener.

Latest

Medical specialist and writer Eileen Merriman's prescription for success
104920 2019-04-25 00:00:00Z Profiles

Medical specialist and writer Eileen Merriman's pr…

by Clare de Lore

Eileen Merriman doesn’t have to dig too deep to find the angst, humour and drama for her award-winning novels.

Read more
We still remember them: The best in new Anzac Day reading
105020 2019-04-25 00:00:00Z Books

We still remember them: The best in new Anzac Day…

by Russell Baillie

The tide of great New Zealand books on the world wars shows no sign of going out. Russell Baillie reviews four new Anzac books.

Read more
Fine lines: New Anzac books and graphic novels for kids
105028 2019-04-25 00:00:00Z Books

Fine lines: New Anzac books and graphic novels for…

by Ann Packer

A telegraph “boy”, heroic animals and even shell-shock make for engaging reads for children.

Read more
Keeping up appearances: The challenging job of restoring NZ's lighthouses
104978 2019-04-25 00:00:00Z Life in NZ

Keeping up appearances: The challenging job of res…

by Fiona Terry

Ensuring lighthouses stay “shipshape” isn’t a job for the faint-hearted.

Read more
The former major reuniting service medals with their rightful owners
105015 2019-04-25 00:00:00Z Life in NZ

The former major reuniting service medals with the…

by Fiona Terry

Service medals are being reunited with their rightful owners thanks to former major Ian Martyn and his determined research.

Read more
PM announces 'Christchurch Call' to end use of social media for terrorism
104952 2019-04-24 00:00:00Z Politics

PM announces 'Christchurch Call' to end use of soc…

by Noted

A meeting aims to see world leaders and CEOs of tech companies agree to a pledge called the ‘Christchurch Call’.

Read more
Red Joan: Judi Dench almost saves Soviet spy story from tedium
104942 2019-04-24 00:00:00Z Movies

Red Joan: Judi Dench almost saves Soviet spy story…

by James Robins

The fictionalised account of a British woman who spied for the Soviet Union is stiflingly quaint.

Read more
What to watch on TV this Anzac Day
104749 2019-04-24 00:00:00Z Television

What to watch on TV this Anzac Day

by Fiona Rae

Māori TV once again devotes the day to Anzac programming, including a live broadcast from Gallipoli.

Read more