Sunday, September 11, 2016

TV Show Review: BrainDead (Season 1)

Like outrageous conspiracy theories, I'm a bit skeptical of television shows on basic cable, but BrainDead reverses all of my preconceived notions. This over-the-top, campy sci-fi TV show hits the spot with a great mixture of comedy, creepy alien invasion, and all too familiar partisan political backdrop that touches plenty of hot topics of the current election. I was hooked from the start of the second episode as the singing recap by Jonathan Coulton who hilariously recounts the previous episode's events. This show is brilliant, funny, and highly entertaining, more people should be watching it and I hope it is renewed for many seasons to come.

When an alien ship crashes down in Russia, alien ants pour out and begin to infect researchers and eventually political leaders. The ants inspire their hosts to take extremely partisan positions to the political leanings they already had, which is the source of an inordinate amount of gridlock in Congress, sounds familiar. The invading ants push out a half of the brain that enjoys sex and alcohol leaving the human drinking vegetable juice and listening to the song "You Might Think" by The Cars. 

Meanwhile, the story focuses on Laurel Healy (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) a documentarian who comes to Washington D.C. to work for her promiscuous brother Senator Luke Healy (Danny Pino). Laurel stumbles upon the conspiracy when a researcher's head explodes and then several more heads explode including a pundit's on live television. The coverups continue but a paranoid conspiracy theorist and Gustav Triplett (Johnny Ray Gill) joins Laurel to uncover the insidious plot of these health nut aliens. With the help of Dr. Rochelle Daudier (Nikki M. James), they realize these aliens have infiltrated the highest leaders of the Senate, the FBI, and CIA.

The Republican Senator Red Wheatus (Tony Shalhoub) is infested by the queen ant and his partisanship grows increasingly outrageous as he uses his persuasive tactics to further the aliens cause. His aide Gareth Ritter (Aaron Tveit) has a contentious romantic relationship with Laurel and is torn between his romance and his job for the wild Republican.  The conspiracy almost falls to the wayside as political dealings, backstabbing, double dealing, and whatever other terms can be used to describe the strange nature of our current system creates tension all the while serving the aliens' grander scheme. 

Who knew the best way to discuss this highly controversial election and the ongoing roadblocks to progress and safety in this country would be a campy science fiction tale but this reassures me of the importance of great genre fiction. This Ridley Scott produced show has a guaranteed spot at the top of my list at the end of the year, it ridicules both sides and touches nearly every recent political headline. The acting is brilliant with humorous performances from Johnny Ray Gill and Tony Shalhoub especially. There looks like there could be an option for another season though the show wrapped up nicely if it was a bit too quickly. 

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