There are three things that generally do What we do in the shadows a of the best comedies on TV: thas the presence of one of the most talented actors in comedy currently in activity, an absurd and fantastical premise that the show is never afraid to exploit for a surreal deep dive, and a relentless approach to joke writing and pacing that makes it one of the most consistent laughing machines around.
Well, hey: two out of three isn’t bad, is it?
It’s not just tonight’s episode of WWDITS“The Night Market”, is a company without laughter. NOTThis TV episode featuring Natasia Demetriou happily tchotchke hunting in a mystical market full of shitty stinky fairies is going to be bereft of a few, perhaps improvised, gems. (“Small skull. Nice!”) But he Is take a long, mostly winding road to get to its centerpiece: a battle between Guillermo and Nandor which is pretty much a showmanship party for a mob of barking vampires and two parts a resolution to those who bruise the ego “Who would win in a fight?” questions that was brought up in last season’s finale.
In hindsight, casting Guillermo as a top vampire hunter might be the smartest decision the show’s writing staff ever made. It not only gives Harvey Guillen plenty of chances to watch terribly cool as he deals blows, it’s also a key EQ for the power dynamics of the series and a way to give a character who will always be the show’s main underdog a regular string of victories. Gizmo could face humiliations, accusations of orcism, and literal spitting in the face, but the show has mapped out his abilities enough at this point that once the fight begins in earnest, it’s not about whether he was going to kick Nandor’s ass, but how the pair were going to make his fake defeat convincing enough to fool a group of vampires.
The fight itself also looks great, as Guillermo and Nandor face off across several levels of the titular Night Market (buried in a subway graveyard deep in the city), leaving a few collateral dead.dies in their wake. Kudos in particular to Nick Corirossi as the supremely bored and dismissive announcer of familiar fights (fights where vampires force their familiars to fight and kill each other, natch), who gives a consistently entertaining breakdown of the battles. never letting out his utter contempt for the humans around them. (“Aanother high-flying capoeira kick that doesn’t do anything!”) And it’s always nice to hear Guillermo lose his temper with the endless disrespect directed at him, even if it’s only for a second, as he and Nandor briefly play their way to a real battle to the death.
This is the highlight. (Well, that onelong with, if I may admit being completely childish, the revelation that the primary way the Night Market filters humans into their secret underground subjects them to a pissed-off rendition of “Pensylvania 6-5000.” What can I say ? i am a softie for a fart joke delivered with conviction.)
We can do without the C-plot, meanwhile, pretty quickly: Laszlo is still grappling with his fatherly duties to “that little tap-dancing freak who crawled his way out of dead Colin Robinson’s abdominal cavity” , this time irritated that The Boy has developed an interest in fairy tales. And so the couple visits the dullest parts of the night market, revealing that Pinocchio-ism is just a medical condition, that “The Emperor’s New Clothes” was pretty much a “common German nudist,” and unveiling the grim truth about how Rumpelstiltskin got his name. I’ll never turn my nose up at Matt Berry saying weird things in a funny way, and it’s nice to see The Boy’s growth spurt bring Mark Proksch completely back into the mix as part of the whole series. But that doesn’t stop this whole plot-line to be incredibly light, and not terribly dense with jokes. (Besides, wouldn’t Laszlo be not do you want The Boy to embrace the mundane nature of the supernatural, in order to keep his energy vampire nature at bay? At least he has a good taste for bedtime reading.)
That leaves us with our inciting incident for the entire Night Market field trip, i.e. Nadja’s labor disputes with the wraiths who do all the actual work of running her club. And while The Guide (Kristen Schaal, who gets a good line tonight when she covers after realizing she hadn’t been invited to the Night Market) might be a little cruel when she downplays the spectrum’s comedy abilities. , she’s not wrong either: In a show that lives and dies by the delivery of its dialogue, these little voiceless weirdos just don’t make the cut.
It doesn’t help that, just like with last week’s lukewarm music industry commentary, also centered on the club– the parallels between Nadja’s supernatural work issues and more traditional labor union battles aren’t so much accentuated for comedy here as vaguely beckoned. It’s clearly just an excuse to take Nadja to the market, where she rolls around and deals with getting the perfect bribe for the leader of the specter, first by exchanging some of Nandor’s old crap for a pair of Valkyries based on IKEA jokes. then passing off “a piece of clothing with a very misogynistic joke that completely derides current traffic laws” as the drug in question. Again, Demetriou sells shit – see the first point in my opening speech. And I’m a firm believer that the series’ flippant attitude toward conflict resolution is a feature, not a bug. But the jokes have to be there to drive it all, and in “The Night Market” they just aren’t. more often than not.
But, look: even when “The Night Market” doesn’t provide a laugh, it’s still dense with detail. and delightfully weird, one of those episodes that gives us a window into just how weird this little sitcom universe goes. What we do in the shadows is very, very good at taking on his own mythology just seriously enough to lend a little wonder to its world, even when it leaves its own characters feeling awfully bored.
- Nandor compares The Night Market to “famous Italian street fairs in Little Italy.”
- Despite my grumbling, the Laszlo And Colin Show has its charms: “Rumpledickskin, more like.” “What is dick skin?”
- Kayvan Novak gives a very funny delivery on “Ehh, you could pass” after Guillermo asks him if he looks like an orc.
- I still don’t think the specters are funny, but their little fake white hands kind of are.
- A good moment too: Marwa inviting herself to the Night Market, only to abruptly turn around when Nandor surreptitiously rubs the lamp and makes a wish. His empty position after they leave is a nice and strange touch.
- More club woes: The blood squirters all remain blocked.
- A solid follow-up fart joke: “Are you still accepting requests?” “Not for a few hours.”
- Many thanks to everyone involved in creating the night market itself: it really is an impressive sight.
- Corirossi gets a lot of good lines as he recounts the fights, but none are as good as when Guillermo does his little trench coat flip and the MC says, “Looks like the little guy is sailing now.”
- Matt Berry’s main line reads: “As far as I know, he was never a puppet.”
- “I call him Dark Small.”
- “I already had plans last night, so it’s a good thing I wasn’t invited!
- I just watched it after realizing I would Absolutely listen to Berry read the full In cold bloodand the man just hasn’t made enough audiobooks.
- I always love when the show acknowledges the camera crew; I’m shocked neither of them died in the middle of Guillermo and Nandor’s fight.
- Hell yeah, wraiths: Union solidarity from beyond the grave.