The New and Somehow Familiar Resident Alien
The SyFy network’s original material doesn’t even qualify as hit or miss. It’s almost always a miss. The new show Resident Alien is trying to break that mold. Like Battlestar Galactica, Stargate, and The Expanse before it, Resident Alien feels like a SyFy show that could break through the channel’s tepid quality issue. Just a few episodes in and my hopes are high the Resident Alien can deliver the funny sci-fi escape that we richly need during these quarantined days. The show seeks to answer a question I believe is worth asking, “Are we worth saving?”
One aspect of Resident Alien that stands out is it’s familiarity. The writers make no attempt to reinvent the wheel. There is nothing “new” about the story that has revealed itself yet. Alan Tudyk plays an alien, sent to destroy earth, that runs into a delay. He’s required to blend in while he works to complete his mission. Taking over the body of a retired doctor turned recluse, our alien learns to speak and interact with humans while watching Law and Order reruns. Something like the Edgar suit from Men In Black combined with the asian immigrant from Better Off Dead that learned English by watching Howard Cosell.
As he interacts with humans and forms relationships, his focus on the mission weakens. Much like the infamous episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation when Q puts Picard on trial for the crimes of humanity, Tudyk’s alien is unsure if humans deserve to be wiped out. The anti-hero to this story, the force standing in the way of the eradication of all humanity? A teenage boy that can see through Tudyk’s disguise. Unlike The Strain, this teen is funny and endearing even when he gets in our protagonists way.
I do not assume that the show will remain with its pre-owned tropes for long. A useful tool in settling in the viewer quickly, but it feels like there’s more ready to come out. The show is violent at times without warning. I am excited to see how far the show’s writers are willing to go. Already a murder mystery afoot and some light assault by our favorite alien, who knows where we wind up after ten episodes.
Resident Alien wins viewers in its safe comedy and its character development. Each new character introduced fits into a nice category. A tough guy sheriff. An appeasing but weak mayor. A bartender that’s as friendly as she is easy. And a nurse that cares so deeply for each person she treats. Familiarity makes this show easy to dive in. After only two episodes, our nurse has opened up about a troubled family life, abusive relationships, and a struggle to honor her native heritage. I hope the season maintains development of each character with such commitment.
The jury is still out on Resident Alien. It is far too early to render judgement on a show with only 3 episodes. I actually enjoy the fact that it has eased the viewer into the setting and characters. The comedy is funny albeit unoriginal. I can see the show experiencing moments of great violence and great heartache. I look forward to going on this journey to learn if we are worth saving. Honestly, after the past twelve months, I think it’s a fair question to ask and it’s the main reason I’ll see this show to its end.