Bluray Review – ASH VS. EVIL DEAD: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON
When news of an EVIL DEAD TV shows hit the internet, for the most part, fans were pretty excited. While the Fede Alvarez-helmed 2013 remake of the fan favorite Sam Raimi film had its share of the over the top blood and guts that made the original films so entertaining, it lacked the series’ wise-cracking protagonist, Ash, played with cocky charm by Bruce Campbell. Fans wanting to see more of Campbell in action instead of a new approach was heard loud and clear, and suddenly ASH VS. EVIL DEAD was born. Again, while fans were excited and anxious, the best of the film series was when it wasn’t held back, with gallons and gallons of blood and carnage flying all across the screen (and all over Campbell), so how would a TV show be up to that challenge? Would it be a watered down version of the character and horror/action we’ve all loved for decades? Thankfully, the answer to that one was a big, resounding NO, and ASH VS. DEAD delivered on all fronts, giving fans their blood, gore, Ash and well…EVIL DEAD once again, just with an expanded mythology that opens the series up and allows it go in new and interesting directions.
Season one opens with Ash living somewhat of a loner life in an RV, doing his best to pull the sympathy out of half drunken women at a local bar with his fake hand and silly charm. While it does the trick and gets Ash some action, things wouldn’t make sense if Ash hadn’t screwed something up, so he’s reminded of recently getting high with a woman back in his RV and in his stoned stupor, trying to impress the woman by reading from the Book of the Dead (something that’s obviously not done much good for Ash in the past). Knowing that he inadvertently probably unleashed the Evil Dead, Ash decides to leave town, but not before grabbing his last check from his job: another clerk job not very different than the S-Mart job he had in the original series. It’s there, where we meet two characters who play major parts in this TV continuation: the young and idealistic Pablo (Ray Santiago, SUBURBAN GOTHIC) and Kelly (Dana DeLorenzo), a new girl who butts heads with Ash, but has Pablo’s interests. Ash’s boss refuses to give him the check until his shift is over, so reluctantly, Ash does his best to make it through he shift. It’s right there, when we know we’re in good hands again, with the playful humor of the film series coming into the TV series and a little doll comes to life, terrorizes Ash and ends up being destroyed by a shocked Pablo. Pablo joins Ash on his quest and when the evil targets Kelly’s family, we’re given a trio of ass-kickers, which might not sound like a new approach fans would want, but works very well for the show. Pablo and Kelly’s characters compliment each other well, with one being awkward and willing to help and the other being a badass who isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty destroying deadites left and right.
Also adding to the show’s mythology is the inclusion of Amanda Fisher, a police officer (Jill Marie Jones) who was forced to kill her partner when he was possessed by the evil and Ruby (Lucy Lawless, XENA: PRINCESS WARRIOR, SPARTACUS), a mysterious character whose mission is the stop Ash and who offers Amanda her help in stopping our trio. The series’ episodes play well together, giving its viewers fun and exciting (and often SCARY) situations, all while playing into a great season arc, one which begins small and ends up back where Ash’s life was changed decades before (the cabin). It’s fun to follow Ash, (always the reluctant hero), now with false teeth, a tad bit overweight and not as quick on his feet as he once was, and the duo of Pablo and Kelly, who both add a lot to the show. Jones’ Amanda Fisher character is tormented by what she had to go through, so she’s very much a woman on a mission throughout the first half of the show, and every encounter she has with Ash is fresh, exciting and pretty intense. It’s fun to be able to follow these various new characters and the show’s writers and producers do a hell of a job making you care about every single one, allowing the overall arc of the show to really hit hard as it winds down.
We’re given something akin to a weekly baddie with each episode, but with deadites AND Amanda/Ruby following and trying to stop Ash, the show’s potential is huge, something that is taken advantage of right from the beginning. You would imagine the scope being a bit smaller, due to it being a TV show, but ASH VS. EVIL DEAD goes all out, giving us adventures, possessions, heads getting stabbed, sawed and chopped left and right, making you wonder just how much blood each actor had to go through while filming this first season. We’re taken to survivalist groups, restaurants and even book stores, all grounds in which our protagonists assume they’re safe, but eventually end up being put through the hell that only Sam Raimi and Co. could imagine putting Campbell through.
By the end of the season, and with what revelations we’re given (some people are quite than we expect, some live/die and some end up kicking enough ass to rival Ash), it’s exciting to follow the journey and though Ash might think he’s heading the right direction at the end of the season (some pretty humorous but DEFINITELY Ash-like turn of events), it leaves the series open for the upcoming second season, without leavings viewers wondering what just happened (ala- the most recent season of The Walking Dead). It’s apparent that we’re in good hands with the team behind this new series of blood soaked adventures, and this exciting first season is a good place to start.
Season one gives you commentaries on each episode, all of which provide you with insight into the fun (and horror) and having to act within the world of ASH VS. EVIL DEAD. Also included are a trio of EPK-like short docs, all showing where the production team were coming from, how they handled each episode and a pretty entertaining “How to Kill A Deadite” short EPK, acting as a highlight reel of some of the season’s best moments.
How to Kill a Deadite Clip 1: Deadites
How to Kill a Deadite Clip 2: Tools Of The Trade