Turning a concept as old as “My Favorite Martian” into something fresh and funny isn’t easy, but “Resident Alien” somehow manages that, fueled by its dark, offbeat tone and Alan Tudyk’s otherworldly skill playing the title character as a stranger in his own skin. Regular twists also help, in a serialized dramedy that turns the Dark Horse comic into a wonderfully addictive series.
The only small warning book is that although the size of the comedy is possible – Tudyk’s awkwardness falls between “Starman” and the aliens who are in the film “Galaxy Quest” – the sometimes-raunchy material isn’t for young kids, who otherwise would probably love it. Older ones, by contrast, might identify with this strange visitor’s unfamiliar bodily sensations, which approximate a belated brush with puberty.
Tudyk’s “Harry” came to Earth for a secret purpose, but his ship crashed, and he lost his precious possessions. He is hiding near the town of Patience, Colorado, as he seeks a tool that will allow him to achieve his goal – E.T who can not go home, and one who is evidently annoyed at the whole situation.
Further complicating matters, Harry has inadvertently inhabited the body of a doctor and is sought out by local authorities to help examine a body after what appears to be a rare murder.
This mystery compels Harry to engage with the people, something he has greatly avoided for months while teaching himself to talk by watching “Law & Order” reruns. Of course, the cop show doesn’t really help with his awful, explosive laugh, or little things like how to eat a hot dog and his first brush with alcohol.
How The Story Progresses?
Once in town, other headaches emerge, the most vexing being a local kid (Judah Prehn) who — in something of a fluke — can actually see Harry in his alien guise where other humans can’t. The alien’s first thought, naturally, is to kill him, although letting everyone think the boy’s nuts — including his parents — might get the job done just as well.
Perhaps even more unpleasant, Harry actually begins to feel in love with some of the townspeople, especially Asta (Sara Tomko), a nurse at the local clinic. Being a doctor, he is also seen as unfairly, intelligent, despite his willingness to use the wrong slang at the wrong time, such as when discussing medical conditions.
Adapted by “Family Guy” writer Chris Sheridan, “Resident Alien” possesses the quirky qualities of a live-action cartoon, capitalizing on Tudyk’s weirdly endearing performance, which makes you root for Harry even with his occasional homicidal tendencies. The actor’s voice-over talents (from animated series to the robot in “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”) serve him, and the material, quite well.
There is also a touch of “Northern Exposure” on the list of eccentrics in a small town, making it easier for Harry to hide openly. To add to the popularity, the latest episodes feature characters investigating the threat of aliens, one of which was played by Linda Hamilton from “The Terminator”.
Given the twists and turns, there’s always the risk that “Resident Alien” could begin to exhaust its premise; still, if the writers can sustain the creative orbit established by its opening batch of episodes, it looks like the kind of series that could extend its stay indefinitely.