REVIEWED: SEASON 1 (ALL EPISODES) | WHERE TO WATCH: BBC IPLAYER, APPLE, GOOGLE PLAY, PRIME VIDEO, CHILI
Back in 2014, we fell from our seats laughing at Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement’s vampire mockumentary What We Do in the Shadows, a movie that rightfully set Waititi on course to be the superstar director of Thor movies he is today. Repeated rumours of a sequel have come to nothing, but we finally have a follow-up TV series. The first season aired on FX in the States and is now available in the UK via the BBC.
Like the film, the series follows house-sharing vampires, though it’s a new group, with the action moved from New Zealand to Staten Island. With Clement leading the writing team and both he and Waititi directing episodes, it’s got the same irreverent spark that characterised the film, with humour derived from the wide chasm between how the vampires see themselves – Dracula-esque conquerors of the New World – and the mundane realities of their everyday existence.
We’re introduced into this household through Harvey Guillén’s Guillermo, the human servant of 757-year-old Nandor the Relentless. There’s not much actually relentless about Nandor; Kayvan Novak captures that contradiction brilliantly in how the proudly cape-swirling Nandor too often reveals himself as a pathetic figure lost in modern society.
But the standout performances are from the ubiquitous Matt Berry and rising star Natasia Demetriou as the horny, petulant Laszlo and his sarcastic, long-suffering wife Nadja. Berry’s uniquely dramatic delivery of colourful lines never fails to elicit a laugh, and one of the best recurring jokes is how he shouts “Bat!” every time he turns into one. Nadja is the perfect foil for Laszlo’s pomposity, but also shines when she gets to lead her own storylines. And we haven’t yet mentioned Colin Robinson, the daywalking ‘energy vampire’ who lives in the basement; he drains humans not by drinking their blood but by boring them – we’ve all met an energy vampire or two in our times.
Plot threads over the course of the ten episodes include attempts to entertain the Nosferatu-esque Baron, Nadja’s training of a newly converted vampire, and Guillermo’s desperation to impress his master enough to become a vampire himself, but it’s refreshingly not overburdened by arc plot and each episode stands on its own as a solid half hour of entertainment. While the laugh rate isn’t as consistently high as the movie, it’s one of the funniest shows of the year so far. Particular highlights include a feud with werewolves that results in the destruction of Laszlo’s vulva-shaped topiary, a disastrous attempt to organise the Bi-annual Vampire Orgy, and a trial conducted by the Vampire Council, giving us an impressive range of cameos.
The season gets better as it goes along and ends on a cliffhanger that leaves us wanting more. Thankfully, a second season has been confirmed, and we can’t wait to get back in the shadows.