First look UK TV review: Resident Alien
Ivan Radford | On 18, Feb 2021
New episodes of Resident Alien arrive on Sky One on Thursdays.
They seek him here, they seek him there, and he appears when least expected. He changes his form with apparent ease, and his disguise is always perfected. A robot, a doctor, a TV boss, he can even fly a spaceship. A pirate who dodges, perhaps a knight’s squire, it’s the wonder that is Alan Tudyk – and Resident Alien is a rare chance for him to take a leading screen role.
The sci-fi comedy sees him play Captain Hah Re, an alien who is on a mission wipe out the entire human race. But things go awry when he crash-lands just outside a small town in Colorado – and so, after an encounter with the local doctor, he takes on his identity to fit in undetected. The result is a classic killer-alien-hiding-out-in-a-remote-town tale, one that lets Alan Tudyk play nasty as well as nice. The fact that he’s called “Dr Harry Vanderspeigle” is a bonus.
The show, based on a comic book of the same name by Peter Hogan and Steve Parkhouse, is created by Chris Sheridan (Family Guy), who has a real knack for balancing the darkness and the silliness. Within minutes, we’ve seen the actual Harry die, and then seen Imposter Harry called out to investigate another dead body – the main town physician. And so he’s recruited to be the substitute GP for the town, a position that’s as alarming as it is amusingly inappropriate.
Tudyk clearly relishes the chance to embrace all of those tones at once, and his malleable, chameleonic timing shines here, as he moves from dangerous to daft often with the same sentence. Singing the music from Law & Order to himself as he examines a corpse, he’s as disarmingly funny as he is creepy, and even his sparky bond with colleague Asta Twelvetrees (a likeably sarcastic Sara Tomko) is strangely endearing – right down to the point at which she chuckles at his disrespectful behaviour at a funeral.
And yet there is a moral conflict that brews, too, as Hah Re seems to take on a growing human side as a result of his molecular transformation, from enjoying alcohol to flirting with bar owner D’arcy Morin (Alice Wetterlund). He may not understand why it’s wrong to get out his phone during gynaecological inspections to Google what to do, but he does begin to suspect this his mission to eviscerate all humankind may not be the kindest thing to do.
The series follows Tudyk’s lead and swerves accordingly through its simple yet engaging plot, pausing for moments of genuine curiosity but also so that Hah Re can threaten Max (Judah Prehn), the young son of the town mayor (Levi Fiehler), who is the only people can see through his disguise and realise he’s an alien. Cynthia Ann Summers’ costume design and the excellent make-up team bring just the right level of cheesiness to Hah Re’s reptilian face, letting Tudyk let loose with snarling line deliveries at a moment’s notice. The result is easygoing entertainment with just enough bite to keep you hooked – and hopefully to give Tudyk more chances to sink his teeth into more star roles.
Resident Alien is available on Sky One until 1st May 2021. Don’t have Sky? You can also stream it live and on-demand legally on NOW TV, for £9.99 a month, with no contract and a 7-day free trial.