I’m not usually a fan of shows about ants (Yes, I know I’m in the minority), but in deference to the Kings, who I greatly admire, I’ve been watching their new summer show, BRAINDEAD.
I’ve seen all three aired episodes, and I can honestly say – I have no idea whether or not I like this show. And it’s not the ants. They’re fine. A few overact but generally they give a yeoman’s performance. (I can’t believe that RAID doesn’t sponsor this show. Or Bose headphones.) And I get that the political arena is hot right now. Every show set in Washington that doesn’t star Katherine Heigl seems to be a hit. But BRAINDEAD mixes genres in a bizarre uneasy way. It’s like MARS ATTACKS meets HOUSE OF CARDS.
One problem is it’s a political satire without much bite. Neither Democrats nor Republicans are really skewered. The series theme is that extremists are crippling the government, but the attacks are (a) pretty balanced (and what fun is that?), and (b) mostly a lot of poli-speak gobbledygook that is hard to follow and who gives a shit? Maybe if it were on a cable network or subscription service it would have more punch. I get the sense CBS doesn’t want to offend either political party or eusocial insects.
Another problem is that it’s hard to follow because I still don’t know what the rules are. What are these space ants trying to achieve? Why do some of the invaded people turn into Bill O’Reilly and in others their heads explode? Are there Kamikaze ants? Do the ants take political sides? Are there red ants and blue ants? On THE GOOD WIFE I never had that problem. It’s the Roach Motel of storytelling – ideas go in and they never come out.
And yet, along the way, there are some fun moments or scenes, and the best part of the show is the musical recaps composed and sung by Jonathan Coulton.
whose brain has either been infected by ants or Ann Coulter. Series star, Mary Elizabeth Winstead (an indie-film darling) is good as the anti-ant heroine trying to piece together all of the weirdness and stop them before they can get into Bryce Harper’s ear and ruin the Washington Nationals’ season. So far it’s not a very taxing part for Lizzie. She needs just two expressions. “Huh?” and “HUH?”
What do you guys all think? I’ll give it another week. I want to like it. Maybe next week it will all come together. Or, at the very least, Elizabeth will come home to find her vibrator scurrying across the living room floor.