Monday, October 10, 2016

TV REVIEW: ASH VS. THE EVIL DEAD (SEASON TWO, EPISODES ONE & TWO)

TV REVIEW

ASH VS. THE EVIL DEAD

SEASON TWO, EPISODES ONE & TWO ("HOME" & "THE MORGUE")
One of the reasons why I got into loving movies was my Dad. There are several films that my Dad and I connect on, and they are films I hope to connect on the same path when I have children some day. Hopefully. One of the movies that my Dad introduced me to was "Army of Darkness." That was my big introduction to Ashley "Ash" Williams, played by Bruce Campbell. This was the movie that led me on the path to "The Evil Dead" film series, even though I would not realize that "Army of Darkness" was connected to that series until much later. "Army of Darkness" was a rowdy, rowdy motion picture, one I still love to dive into today. I put Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell on my watch list. I was even lucky enough to meet Bruce Campbell two years ago at Chicago Comic-Con and I proudly have a signed blu-ray of "Army of Darkness" by the man himself.

So when it was announced Bruce was finally returning to this story as Ash, I could not have been happier. I watched and loved the first season of "Ash vs. The Evil Dead," a show that picks up thirty years after the "Evil Dead" films (although its still unclear if "Army of Darkness" is canon), and works as a massive sequel to those films. I thought about reviewing the series last year and I am kicking myself right now that I didn't. But I had "Minority Report," "Fargo," and "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." on the docket last year, as well as all the movies I cram into a year, and it just fell by the wayside. Not this year though. I plan to remain front and center for this series, and I have plenty to say of the show so far.

Just a quick recap of season one: Thirty years after the events of the "Evil Dead" films, Ash works at a local "Value Shop" mart as none other than a stock boy. His life is going absolutely nowhere; Ash is living in a trailer, he has random, nightly, sexy, hookups, and he loves to drink at bars. He even tells stories about how he lost his arm. Things seem at least normal, until of course, Ash accidentally reads an incantation of the Book of the Dead (again), which awakens The Kandarian Demon again. This brings Ash back into the fight against the evil dead again. He is aided by Pablo Bolivar; a co-worker of Ash's who becomes his trusty sidekick. A character brought to expert life by Ray Santiago. Ash is also aided by Kelly Maxwell (Dana DeLorenzo), a moody girl who gets pulled into the crusade with Ash and Ray. The trio is often visited by Ruby Knowby (Lucy Lawless), a mysterious woman who claims to want to hunt down evil. But it later turns out that she is the author of the Book of the Dead, and has walked the Earth for a millennia. At the end of first season, Ash strikes deal with Ruby to allow her to unleash evil as long as she can control it, otherwise she will kill her friends. The enemies reach this unexpected truce.

As season two picks up, Ash is back to his partying ways. We find him in a bar, impressing millennials with his boom stick. Things get bad though, when the Deadits appear once again. (Evil demon-like monsters and popular villains in "Evil Dead" lore). Ash easily kills them then takes Kelly and Ray to go see Ruby. Apparently, she is not keeping her side of the bargain. Ruby explains that the Book of the Dead is missing, and that her evil minions are no longer listening to her. She enlists Ash and his allies to bring the Book of the Dead back to her. Which kicks off a brand new season of bloody mayhem and wicked laughter!

What made the first season of "Ash vs. The Evil Dead" so delightful was that it was a sincere revival of something cherished from our past, without rubbing the nostalgia in our face. There are very few callbacks to the old movies, this is not just a nostalgic artifact rally. This is a true continuation of the story, a brand new adventure with Ash Williams. Within the firs two episodes of the second season, "Ash vs. The Evil Dead" continues that tradition. These first two episodes prove that they don't need to rely on lip service to the past to remain interesting. They just keep the tradition of the "Evil Dead" movies. Keep writing great one-liners for Bruce. Keep up with this wild ride of story. There is still plenty of blood to be spilt. And apparently, still plenty to laugh at. In "The Morgue" episode, Ash tries to unravel the Book of the Dead hidden in a dead body. Which of course, turns out to be possessed. The fight that ensues is both gory and gorgeous and will keep you laughing until you hurt. Even as Ash goes up someone's ass, literally up a dead body's ass. 

There are some subplots for this season that I think will have potential. Ray was literally spat on by an evil entity in the first episode. Now he's having horrible dreams and terrible visions. Ruby senses this, and is trying to help him. Its a shaky alliance, but what do the nightmares and visions mean? What purpose do they serve? I hope it leads to something amazing, which I am sure it will. Lee Majors is also turning up as Ash's father. Its a typical estranged relationship we see in lots of movies and TV shows. But there is a zing of inspiration and hilarity to their relationship and it seems Lee Majors will play a key role in this second season. I welcome it, he's had some really good material in these first two episodes and I hope they expand on this.

By the way, several Xeninites out there may want Lucy Lawless back for a "Warrior Princess" revival, but I don't. I love her here, LOVE HER. She can't go anywhere else!

Two episodes in, and things are groovy for Ash and his friends. I hope to continue loving this series. "Ash vs. The Evil Dead" is on Sunday nights on Starz. You can bet I will keep up with it this season! If you've been a fan of  all things "Evil Dead," you should too.

    

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