After a brief hiatus, we’re checking back in with the most recent episodes of MTV’s new comedy/horror series, “Death Valley“. When vampires, zombies, and werewolves wreak havoc in the San Fernando Valley, it’s up to the Undead Task Force to investigate undead malfeasance and dispatch swift justice. The last two weeks have introduced a running storyline and featured the series’ funniest episodes so far. As the cast begins to click, Death Valley has slowly evolved from the episodic, sometimes aimless comedy bits that dominated the first two episodes. This show might actually live up to its potential.
Read on for a detailed discussion of Episodes 3 and 4.
I was out of town last week and neglected to submit a review of Episode 3, (“Blood Vessels”). My apologies to the growing fan base of what has slowly progressed into a consistently funny series. With episodes clocking in at around 21 minutes, it’s difficult to devote thousands of words to each week’s program, but I’m still committed to giving Death Valley the coverage it deserves. Once not so long ago I ignored my instincts to cover something called Scream Queens–a show so godawful it practically begged to be mocked on a weekly basis–a decision I’ll regret for the rest of my life.
I understand that Death Valley still has its detractors, and yes, I’ll admit, it can be very uneven and not always as funny as it wants to be. But the attractive cast has proven that they’re game for anything, and as the comic rhythms have improved over the last two weeks, each episode has been progressively funnier. Take Episode 3, “Blood Vessels”, for example: when zombies trap an ammo-less John John and Rinaldi in a overturned blood-mobile, Stubek and Pierce are only willing to lob boxes of ammo if animal crackers and fruit punch is lobbed in return. What could have been a scene of high-tension zombie claustrophobia straight out of The Walking Dead degenerates into laughs as Stubek and Pierce munch cookies and argue about whether being a varsity high school baseball catcher is more valid than being a JV high school quarterback. Meanwhile, still trapped in the blood-mobile, John John utters those timeless words known to zombie hunters everywhere: “The bat never runs out of ammo.”
Captain Dashell (who’s strangely absent from Episode 4) becomes concerned when his teenage niece is invited to a party that promises “G.B.G.B.”, and he sends Officer Landry undercover to investigate. Although Dashell speculates madly as to the possible meaning of the initials (“Get beers, get banged; green bananas, Gary Busey”), it turns out to stand for “Give Blood, Get Buzzed”, and with a little sparkle from its magic wand, Death Valley introduces some mythology: the black kiss. According to the urban legend Landry hears at the party (and Caity Lotz can spend the whole series in that little black strappy thing, as far as I’m concerned), if you donate blood and then get kissed by a vampire, it gets you high and tastes like Jager. Sleazy vampire Rico shows up to kiss all the female blood donors, and a curious Landry gives in to the seduction. I doubt this will be the last we see of Rico.
In Episode 4, “Two Girls One Cop”, the gang finds themselves “waist-deep in porn” as they investigate a werewolf attack on the set of an adult movie, a set-up that provides some of the series’ funniest moments to date. With the werewolf on the loose, Stubek and Rinaldi search the area for a missing make-up girl so talented she can “make a vagina look like a pair of Swedish baby thumbs.” John John and Pierce decide to hole up on set with the porn stars, taking a particular interest in “the insert guy”, whose role in the adult film perpetually confuses poor Stubek. Even without the always reliable banter of Bryan Callen, the banter during the first 15 minutes of “Two Girls One Cop” depicts Death Valley at its finest and funniest. Yeah, it’s too bad about the wasted subplot that had Landry checking homes for “werewolf compliance” ahead of the full moon, or the somewhat stiff final third, but as I get to know the characters, I’m digging this show more and more each week.
Is anybody still watching? (Cue crickets.)