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A Canadian Cult Comedy That Mixes Bad Monster Movie Mayhem, Stoner Sensibilities, And Rock 'N Roll Swagger
on February 24, 2012
I tend to reserve my five star ratings for only the programs that I think represent the best of television. So, in many ways, my glowing review of "Todd & The Book of Pure Evil" may seem uncharacteristic. I mean, really, it's hardly like this show serves the same purposes as "Mad Men" or "Masterpiece Theater." But this program, with unabashed eccentricity, does exactly what it intends. And by embracing its lunacy wholeheartedly, the show is an unqualified success. This gonzo comedy/horror mash-up from Canada is an unapologetic homage to bad monster movie mayhem. It embraces its intentional badness in such a refreshing way, though, it is almost impossible to resist (if you're into that kind of thing). Combining cheesy effects, ridiculous situations, and over-the-top characterizations while filtering everything through a stoner mentality, this is a show that screams to be discovered by a wider audience and achieve the cult status that seems inevitable.
The program gets off to a quick start as our titular hero Todd (Alex House) discovers the existence of mystical book that has the power to make your dreams come true. But as its powers raise Todd to Rock Star God status, it appears that an ulterior evil is really at work to destroy the school. Subsequent episodes has Todd with a band of misfits pursue the book through a series of misadventures (usually accompanied by a monster or two). Among Todd's cohorts are the school's popular girl (Maggie Castle, on whom Todd is crushing), Todd's witless and one-armed best friend (Bill Turnbull), and a brainy science geek (Melanie Leishman, who is crushing on Todd). Add an evil guidance counselor (a great Chris Leavins), a nefarious band of hooded villains, an unusually wise trio of stoners, and an underutilized Jason Mewes as the janitor (showing the signs of hard living!) and you've got an enthusiastic ensemble committed to the madness. But the book and the deranged and daffy monsters it creates are the true standouts of every episode.
I was on the fence with "Todd & The Book of Pure Evil" after the premiere episode, but the strange beastie with Todd's head (a humunculus) which rampaged through the second episode completely won me over. From there on out, the plotting gets more intricate but no less ridiculous. The book is tied to the disappearance of Castle's father, so the band of heroes has a personal stake in tracking it down. Ultimately, "Todd & The Book of Pure Evil" may not be for everyone. That's okay, it really isn't meant for everyone. But for those with whom it connects, I think they'll really love it. It takes a far-out premise and it runs with it. Silly, clever, preposterous, gross and FUN--this show works.
This two disc set offers all thirteen episodes from Season One just in time to catch up before the second season launches March 13th on FEARnet. In addition to the shows, the disc has pretty decent extras including commentary for three episodes, bloopers, outtakes, deleted scenes, extended musical numbers, questions with the cast, and the original short film. If it sounds like your type of fun, I encourage you strongly to check it out! KGHarris, 2/12.