Todd and the Book of Pure Evil

4 out of 5

Created by:  Craig David Wallace, Charles Picco, and Anthony Leo

covers seasons 1 and 2

I don’t think the creators of Todd and the Book of Pure Evil would mind me summarizing the show as: dumb fun.  It would seem that was the intention.

And there are monsters defeated by laxatives, plenty of weed smoking (Jason Mewes does play the janitor at Todd’s school, after all), plenty of attempted boob groping, and etcetera and etcetera, so, yeah, no bones about it, it’s dumb, but the show earnestly edges its way toward the upper echelon by remaining, like, wholesomely dedicated to that dumbness, and then sneaking in hilarious deadpan jokes here and there.  As things go on, your viewership is rewarded with remembered plot points, and self-aware “here we go again” dialogue, as well as an appreciated familiarity with the small group of regulars.

The title and logo design (written in metal font with a pentagram) is almost enough to give you the gist, but here it is: there exists a book of pure evil; Todd is tied to it in some way; but in the meantime, anyone with a wish seems to stumble upon the book, and has it granted in evil bookish fashion, i.e. things go good before going bad and then some heads explode.  Todd (Alex House) and his buddy Curtis (Billy Turnbull) decide to assist Jenny (Maggie Castle) with trying to halt the book’s shenanigans, because, for Jenny, the book may lead to her missing father, and for Todd, it thus may lead to a chance to touch Jenny’s boobs.  Hannah (Melanie Leishman) is there for her Todd crush, and all of our characters initially take up dumb one / funny one / snarky one / smart one one-dimensional bits, but the writers are smart enough to realize you can’t stake the show on that and so let things grow to something more palatable.  Although it can’t grow too much, because things’ve still gotta be plenty dumb, especially metal-loving Todd.  Chris Leavins’ as the school’s guidance counselor / undercover Satanist, Atticus, is a joy, and while no particular episode is a surprise, part of the elevating factor is that the show just goes for wild things influenced by the book – overgrown cheerleaders, zombie elderly, mini golems – and achieves them mostly practically.  The budget doesn’t make these things look great, but it’s part of the appeal, as is the willingness of the whole cast to allow themselves to look super silly in the process, and, of course, for the jokey gore to happen.

It is, indeed, the kind of show you could just keep watching… as I did, two seasons, in one sitting.  The lightweight dumbness of it also means it’s easy enough to walk away from.  But: should Todd return, I will be there.