The sci-fi murder mystery doctor dramedy Earth needs now.
Resident Alien is a 2021 sci-fi mystery comedy series created by Chris Sheridan. It has one season now streaming on Hulu and SyFy, but has been renewed for a second season. It is based on the 2012-2018 comic book series, Resident Alien. The show stars Alan Tudyk and Sara Tomko.
"Everyone has to die eventually. What matters is the choices you make while you're alive." -Harry the Alien
After crash-landing on planet Earth, an alien takes on the form of the new town doctor, Harry Vanderspeigle. While searching for his device that will destroy the entire planet, Harry eases into the comfy little town of Patience, Colorado. Along the way, he makes friends with the nurse, Asta Twelvetrees, the bartender, D'Arcy Bloom, and the mayor, Ben Hawthorne. As Harry continues to look for his device, he begins to embrace his own humanity.
The best thing about this show is easily Alan Tudyk. Alan Tudyk is the actor that plays the alien, and he gives one of the most hilarious and abnormal performances I've ever seen in a TV show. He does such a good job of acting like an alien that has no idea how to be a human. Everything is so strange; his facial expressions, the way he walks, laughs, and talks. I cannot imagine anyone else playing the alien, because he is so funny.
I also love the character of the alien as well. He is written very well. His intelligence combined with his naivety is hysterical. The show uses a lot of voiceover to show the alien's thinking, which can be really funny. They do this thing a lot where there will be a voiceover to show what the alien is thinking, but then he will say something to another person on screen that will totally contradict what he just thought. It's these kind of well-played situations that make this show very funny.
I also like the central mystery of the show. This series combines a lot of genres. There's comedy, drama, mystery, thrills, science fiction, action, and more. But it is at it's best when it's a comedy and when it's a mystery. The mystery takes a backseat for most of the show, but when you get to the final reveal near the end of the show, I found it really obvious. And then they showed the opening scene of the finale, and I was shocked. There was a nicely placed twist that legitimately threw me off. I will talk a bit about this in the negative, but the twist itself was a very good way to cap off this storyline for the season.
I think the ensemble characters are really good. They are all memorable and have their own character traits that make them pop. At first, I didn't like Asta. But she grew on me a bit. Her storyline had some nice emotions thrown into it. D'Arcy was funny. She acts as the drunken, fallen star that could've done something great. I'm interested to see where they out her in season two. The cops are pretty funny. The sheriff is an absolute idiot, and he was really funny. But I think my favorite supporting character was Max.
Max is the kid that can see that Harry is an alien. That was a really great idea that is executed to perfection. In the first few episodes, I found the scenes with him to be the funniest. They threw Max into the show to add some tension, and it works incredibly well. He is a great concept executed even better. I also love his final moment in the season, and I'm interested to see where that goes in the second season.
I love how they make you understand the alien world just enough. You don't really know that much about where Harry comes from, but they show you enough of his ship and his abilities to make you understand. That's great world-building. Whether it's talking about the different powers his device has or talking to an octopus in the restaurant, it's always entertaining when you find out something new about Harry's world.
Lastly, the show does a good job of keeping you guessing throughout individual episodes. There's a few episodes that start with a very random scene that seems to have nothing to do with the episode itself. Then they revisit the scene in the final moments of the episode by revealing a new character or having some unknown connection to the first scene. When that happens (and I think it happens three times) it provides a nice "Ohhhhhh!" moment.
The big problem with the show is that there is too much going on. There are sooooooooo many plot lines. There are ten or eleven main characters. Each individual character has their own plot line. And some have more than one. Here's a list of the storylines:
Harry and his device
Asta and Jay
Max seeing Harry is an alien
Kate and Ben's relationship
Sheriff Mike being mean to Deputy Liv
The army tracking down Harry
Harry the alien trying to hide real Harry's body
Sahar and Max trying to prove that Harry is an alien
That is eleven plotlines. None of them are like episode-long storylines. Some of them are finished off halfway throughout the season, but most of them are season-long plots. There are ten episodes in the season. You cannot have eleven season-long plotlines in a ten-episode season. This show is stuffed to the brim with storylines. Some of them have satisfying payoffs, but a lot of them are left with wide, gaping holes.
For example, I hated the plot about Harry's wife. She just appears halfway through the salons to divorce him, but stays around for some reason. She never figures out that Harry is an alien and then she eventually leaves. There is no payoff. They just threw it in there to have another plot line, even though they didn't need it.
Other stuff, like Kate and Ben (the mayor), just wasn't interesting. They aren't given enough time to develop because the show has to rush to develop these other plots. This creates an unbalanced show that feels very messy.
The show is also very uneven. Even though the supporting cast is great, Harry is so much more fun to be with than all of them. Every time it cuts away to a different character that isn't the alien, you immediately miss his screen presence and want to go back to him. There are episodes where he will be missing for 15-20 minutes because they have to resolve so many plot lines, and it can get boring, because you just want to go back to the alien.
Finally, I think that the show doesn't do a good job of showing the implications that things should have on the town. Harry tells Kate and Ben that he misdiagnosed their son, and nothing happens to him. When they reveal who really killed Sam, nothing actually happens. People are killed by the government and they don't get caught or face any consequences. This is something that can be resolved in season two, but it should be resolved in this season.
Before I give you my final score, I have about 130 posts on this site. I've reviewed sci-fi and comedy movies and TV shows: The Terminator, The Star Wars prequels, The Good Place, and more. If you want more Sweet N' Sour content, follow me on Instagram and TikTok @sweetnsourreviews. Please consider subscribing to the blog as well.
Resident Alien is a frustrating experience, because it can be so uneven at times, but it is really fun when the show is focusing on the mystery and the hilarious comedy with the alien.
I will go Savory on this one. Age range is 10+.
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Created by Chris Sheridan
Rated TV-14 for moderate violence, language, disturbing themes and images, thematic elements
Episode runtime: 45 minutes
Alan Tudyk as Harry Vanderspeigel
Sara Tomko as Asta Twelvetrees
Alice Wetterlund as D'Arcy Bloom
Corey Reynolds as Sheriff Mike Thompson
Judah Prehn as Max Hawthorne
Levi Fiehler as Mayor Ben Hawthorne
Meredith Garretson as Kate Hawthorne
Elizabeth Bowen as Deputy Liv Baker
Mandell Maughan as Lisa Casper
Alex Barima as Lieutenant David Logan
Kaylayla Raine as Jay
Gary Farmer as Dan Twelvetrees
Jenna Lamia as Judy Cooper
Gracelyn Awad Rinke as Sahar
Linda Hamilton as General McCallister