Ash vs Evil Dead – Season One Overview
Love it or loath it Fede Alvarez’s Evil Dead was, until now, the closest we would get to a follow up to Army of Darkness. For some it was a mere retread, others a brutal ‘re-imagining’. For me it was ‘ok’ but then I sat through the credits and was treated to a post credits stinger of Bruce Campbell in shadow, turning to the camera and uttering ‘Groovy’. Smiling, I asked myself, “What was this, a set up for a sequel/cross-over, something just to keep the fans happy?” I didn’t care as finally, even in a tiny way, I saw Ash on the big screen. All I had to do was wait. Two years later I, and fans of the film series worldwide, were finally given what we always wanted….Ash vs Evil Dead.
Ash vs Evil Dead was commissioned for 10 half hour long episodes which catch up with Ash 30 years after the events of Evil Dead and Evil Dead II. Unfortunately, Universal Studios retain the rights to Army of Darkness and the events therein can’t be referenced. However, the Ashley J Williams we meet in 2015 is the same smart arse, cocky idiot we last saw battling the medieval dead.
I will try and avoid any major spoilers as, at the moment of typing, the show is only available to UK fans via Virgin Media On Demand.
Ash is still a store boy and his life, well, it’s pretty shit. His only friend at work is Pablo (Ray Santiago) and his only release from the boredom of that life is to get shitfaced and have sex with strangers in the local bar. In a brief flashback scene we realise that Ash, still holding on to the Necronomicon, got stoned and, on trying to impress a young lady, read out from the book, once again his stupidity ruining any chance of the human races survival. Ash’s first instinct is to run and keep running. Feeling he is owed some sort of peace and quiet, he doesn’t care about the plight of his fellow man, or girl in the case of colleague Kelly (Dana DeLorenzo).
Kelly receives a message from her father concerning the return of Kelly’s apparent dead mother and needs Ash’s help. Throw in Police Detective Fisher (Jill Marie Jones) who killed her possessed partner, now hunting Ash thinking he was responsible, and the mysterious Ruby (Lucy Lawless) who is also looking for Ash and you’ve got yourself a great cast of characters whose lives all revolve around the guy with the killer chin. Only when forced to don the chainsaw hand and his mighty boomstick, in what is a wonderfully glorious and over the top moment, does Ash accept his fate and decide to finish what was started in the cabin all those years ago.
I knew I would love the show. All the right ingredients were there. Bruce Campbell looks like he has never been away, he lives and breathes Ash and had me laughing out loud within the first five minutes. Written by Tom Speazley and Sam & Ivan Raimi, the pilot is clever and funny. You immediately care about the supporting characters and want to see more of them, especially their attitudes towards and interactions with Ash himself. Sam Raimi directs the pilot and all the flair and originality he showcased in his earlier work is here for all to see. I felt that not an episode was wasted and brought something new to the universe Raimi and co created.
Each following director adds their own style to the show but never feels out of place with the world. Standout episodes for me are “Brujo” which sees Ash go on a trip courtesy of a Shaman, “Fire in the Hole” where the team are stuck on a hillbilly compound and face Lem, a fire obsessed deadite and the final three episodes “Ashes to Ashes”, “Bound in Flesh” and “The Dark One”. The final three episodes blew me away, returning Ash to a very familiar setting with very familiar characters and plenty of call backs to the original movies.
There are many surprises to be had along the way and, initially, I wondered whether 30 minutes were enough per episode. The episode length doesn’t really affect the show as each episode follows on directly from the one before. One episode however cuts half way through a fight to be picked up later who I thought was an odd editing choice but if you are thinking on binge watching this season then you won’t mind.
New demons are introduced, realised through wonderful practical effects and really helps to open up the threat level. One thing to note is the gore factor. If you are a gore hound then you’re in for a treat as blood, bone and body parts are shoved in your face. Each episode, as I recall, comes complete with a unique kill. The show is so familiar because of the universe it inhabits but so original in its execution.
Season Two was commissioned before the first episode was aired and I can’t bloody wait. Ash vs Evil dead is the sequel the fans deserved and it has been well worth the wait. Bruce Campbell has earned his icon status and long may we all hail to the king.