How good is Todd & the Book of Pure Evil?

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This article was published 28/10/2011 (3452 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Opinion

Bill Turnbull as Curtis Weaver (left) and Alex House as Todd Smith.

SPACE

Bill Turnbull as Curtis Weaver (left) and Alex House as Todd Smith.

How good is Todd & the Book of Pure Evil?

Scary good.

Bloody good.

Ridiculously good.

In fact, there may not be another show on TV that's as good at being scary, bloody and ridiculous all at the same time.

The locally shot series, which has its second-season premiere this Sunday at 9 p.m. on Space, is a rare TV confection that brings a sense of wide-eyed innocence to an examination of dark, dirty dealings; its brisk writing and confidently unselfconscious performances create a narrative that's as defiantly silly as it is calculatedly coarse and gross.

Todd & the Book of Pure Evil was a deserving recipient of eight nominations for this year's Gemini Awards, walking away from the annual Canuck-TV celebration with the trophy for best ensemble performance in a comedy program. It's a fitting award for the series to earn, since this is a show whose cast members evenly shoulder the tricky burden of mixing several genres in a single, half-hour show.

The storyline focuses on the titular Todd (Alex House), a seemingly below-average stoner/slacker who spent most of Season 1 racing to right the wrongs he unleashed by opening the aforementioned book of evil, which had been collecting dust in the high-school trophy case before Todd discovered it.

Joining him in his righteous pursuit are his one-armed best pal, Curtis (Bill Turnbull), geeky misfit genius Hannah (Melanie Leishman), and out-of-their-league hot girl Jenny (Maggie Castle), who has only joined forces with the losers because her journalist father went missing a year earlier while trying to investigate the book's hellish powers.

When its rookie season concluded, Todd's core foursome faced the daunting knowledge that the school's flamboyantly satanic guidance counsellor, Atticus (Chris Leavins), had gained possession of the book and was on the verge of unleashing its sinister spells.

The sophomore-season premiere finds Atticus in charge of the local evil circle -- which is headquartered at the nearby old-folks' home -- but his authority is already being challenged by a couple of his surly senior minions. Todd and his pals are forced to invade the suddenly zombified centre after Jenny's search for her dad leads to her capture by the devil-worshipping grannies.

The first two episodes of the new season, which were provided for preview, show that Todd hasn't lost any of its momentum. It's smart, in a stoned-simple way, and maintains its attitude that when it comes to cartoonish bloodletting and deftly delivered gross-out jokes, more is definitely more (press notes proudly declare that more than 55 gallons of fake blood were spilled during production of the new 13-episode set).

In the category of goofy, gross, guitar-pounding fun, Todd & the Book of Pure Evil stands alone.

 

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Allen wrench: Draw some funny pictures; record some silly voices; drop the end product into a Sunday-night slot on Fox -- really, creating a new animation-domination cartoon is a bit of a no-brainer, isn't it?

Apparently not. And all it takes is one look at the newest cartoon arrival, Allen Gregory, to reinforce just how brilliant The Simpsons, Family Guy and their established-success companion shows have been.

Allen Gregory, which premieres Sunday (on Fox and Global) in the cushy 7:30 p.m. slot between The Simpsons and Family Guy, is an effort that literally pales by comparison. Its tepid writing and uninspired animation style make it seem like a 30-minute muted pause between its livelier schedule mates.

The series, co-created and produced by current hot comedy property Jonah Hill (Superbad, Get Him to the Greek), focuses on the misadventures of an overprivileged, home-schooled seven-year-old who faces a real-world comeuppance when his parents' declining fortunes force him to enroll in public school.

Allen Gregory is a bespectacled, blazer-wearing smart-talker who disses his teacher and classmates, propositions the elderly principal and totes sushi and pinot grigio in his lunchbox. He may or may not be as precocious as he believes, but as presented here, he possesses neither the mad-genius appeal of Stewie Griffin nor the eat-my-shorts invulnerability of Bart Simpson.

As cartoon characters go, he isn't breakout-star funny and he isn't woeful-underdog sympathetic; instead, he's just kind of unlikably dull -- a brand of animation that won't do anything to add to Fox's long-established Sunday-block domination.

brad.oswald@freepress.mb.ca

Brad Oswald

Brad Oswald
Perspectives editor

After three decades spent writing stories, columns and opinion pieces about television, comedy and other pop-culture topics in the paper’s entertainment section, Brad Oswald shifted his focus to the deep-thoughts portion of the Free Press’s daily operation.

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