Crazyhead

3 out of 5

Created by: Howard Overman

covers season 1

Surprises are nice, of course, but I don’t always mind when a show makes its intentions clear from the get.  And Crazyhead pretty much does that, letting us know fairly quickly – with its borderline offensive humor, its youth-skewed cast, mentions of demons and the flashy music and punchy neon visuals of its title sequence – that it plans to be Buffy for the current ‘cool’ generation.    (Whedonites having aged into older hipsters at this point.)  Sure, I’m rolling my eyes too, though it was only a matter of time until something like this happened, given the perpetual presence of the supernatural as media topics of interest and hot-button gender themes making it a prime moment to go for a female-centric ass-kicking show; if anything, I’m surprised someone didn’t get here sooner.  But before your eyes pop out of your head, notice a name in the credits and consider the pedigree: Howard Overman.  Howard’s peddled some tripe in his day, but he’s also been attached to some pretty great shows, including Misfits (…at least its initial seasons), a reference which should then immediately make the quick-jab-is-this-funny-or-crass-or-weird-or-dumb-or-all-of-that style of humor of Crazyhead make contextual sense.

Amy (Cara Theobold) sees demons.  She’s seeing a therapist for it.  But then her visions are confirmed by the also demon-seeing Raquel (Susan Wokoma), who eventually brings Amy around to accepting the Evil Walks Among Us reality of things.  On the way, Amy’s friend gets possessed, the duo beat up some baddies, uncomfortable relationships with boys are had, and maybe they stumble across a brewing plot amongst the villains to open a portal to Hell.  It all moves with a this-scene-justifies-the-next momentum, and Howard’s jokes are hit or miss, but the lively direction (Al Mackay and Declan O’Dwyer) and engaging leads make it pretty fun to watch, even if there’s not really a plot beat that’s going to catch you out at any point.  But again: in a way, it’s nice that the show essentially plays it straight from the start: the ‘twists’ aren’t Lost-level hidden-meaning crap, and the character development is kept to what’s primary.  The effects are a bit dodgy but used in brief, and there’s a slightly odd disconnect with the age of the characters, where they get to act completely autonomously despite being pretty young.  Though that’s the magic of good distraction TV: you don’t really have time to consider such flubs too much before the hour is up.

Things, of course, leave us in a position where there are more demons to kill for a season 2.  While I’m not sure I trust Howard to build out a mythology, given how horribly Misfits handled that, there’s a good chemistry at work in Crazyhead – production, casting, music, direction – that works well with his flighty writing style, enough so that I’m definitely hoping to get the chance to at least see if it passes or fails in future episodes.