The guy with the Boomstick is back and ready for action in the first season of the new STARZ series Ash vs Evil Dead. The new STARZ Original Series is a sequel to the beloved cult franchise Evil Dead but not the 2013 remake. That’s right, the new series follows our older, more incompetent hero, the male Ash Williams played by none other than Bruce Campbell. For those wondering, it appears that the series follows the theatrical ending to Army of Darkness and not the fan favorite Director’s Cut ending that leaves Ash more or less alone in a dystopian future.
So what does the new Ash vs Evil Dead series provide? An incredibly fun and refreshing horror comedy series that plays out like a long 5-hour Evil Dead film full of deadites, blood, gore, and Ash continuously getting in his own and everyone else’s way. Spoilers follow but I try not to go into TOO much detail. Groovy?
Initial Concerns for Evil Dead TV Series
I, like many lifelong Evil Dead fans, had some apprehension about premise and format for the show. You see, I was very excited for the rumored plans that were circling when the 2013 Evil Dead remake came out. Now, I like that movie quite a bit and thought Jane Levy did a great job filling the “Ash” role. The prospect of a sequel followed by an Army of Darkness sequel that led to a merging of the two “universes” in a seventh film had me very excited. Who did not love the Bruce Campbell tease in the post-credits of that remake? If you answer “me!”… just stop reading now. Anyway, to learn that this idea was scrapped was a disappointment but to learn that we would be getting a 10-episode mini-series meant a huge chunk of content in the Evil Dead universe. Then things took another turn with the announcement that the series would only include 30-minute episodes. This is something that concerned me. It seemed like a sitcom format. How could they tell a compelling story with action in such short chunks?
Well, my concerns were overblown and flat out wrong. The show is fantastic. It’s everything I wanted from an Evil Dead series. Let’s dive into the why.
The Characters of Ash vs Evil Dead
Amanda Fisher (Jill Marie Jones)
Fisher is a cop that who comes face to face with the cruelty of the Deadites when her partner is killed in a gruesome manner. Shortly after, she becomes obsessed with Ash after more deaths occur at his previous place of residence. Throughout the series, she was my least favorite character. I found her poorly written and awkward. I felt like she was there simply to give Ash pressure to keep moving but motivations were a stretch as this police office continues to ignore the orders of her superiors. She was also too quick to trust in Ruby Knowby (Lucy Lawless), though maybe Ruby used some mystical powers on her. Toward the end of the season, however, she improves and becomes a fun character right up until her incredible surprising end.
Kelly Maxwell (Dana DeLorenzo)
Kelly, pictured right, is the lead female character in the season. She joins our heroes early on and quickly shows herself to be strong, intelligent, and a no nonsense kind of girl. While she is quick to accept what’s going on around her, I found her emotional reactions to the death of her family to be similar to those of Ash’s in the original films. She took things personally and missed her family, but there was a job to do. I personally really enjoyed the episodes where she was possessed by the demon. She was a lot of fun and it was cool having someone “on the inside” so to speak.
Pablo Simon Bolivar (Ray Santiago)
Ash’s right-hand man through and through is our buddy Pablo, pictured left. He is an innocent but courageous guy who just wants his role model, Ash for some reason, to be proud of him. Pablo brings a sense of lightheartedness and innocence to the series that has been lacking literally for decades. Until now, every character is either dark, dies too quickly, or is Ash. We finally have a hero character who means well and is altruistic in nature, a nice balance to Ash’s constant narcissism.
Ruby Knowby (Lucy Lawless)
This woman is simply not in the show enough. Lucy Lawless is incredible. She’s creepy, she’s threatening, mysterious, and also badass. Unfortunately, she doesn’t meet up with the A Plot until near the end of the season but the wait was worth it. Learning who she really is was exciting and not something I expected until the very last moment before the reveal. I also liked how they played her character so that if the show did not get a second season, the first season is a fantastic self-contained story BUT since they did get a second season, we can expect Lawless to return as Ruby for more fun.
Ashley “Ash” J. Williams (Bruce Campbell)
Just give the guy some sugar, baby. This is the role Bruce Campbell was born to play and I love having him back. Ash is older, more experienced, a little more selfish but he still watches out for those close to him… up until the very end when he has a chance to take a break from Deadite hunting. Ash hasn’t lost a step. He is still a brutal and accurate Deadite killer and continues to school everyone episode to episode. I personally loved the scene where he fights himself. Sure, it was done in Army of Darkness but this one was actually better and the existence of two Ashs caused more interesting events to occur with real consequences.
Why You Have to Watch Ash vs Evil Dead
The show includes a fantastic mix of characters that’s diverse in both gender and cultural background. The core cast is small which allows the show to focus on their individual development. Even though the series is split into 10 half-hour episodes (some did run long), the series never drags. In fact, Ash vs Evil Dead is incredibly action-packed with a story and pushes forward with each new episode. The story is compelling and the writers did a great job hiding the true nature of what was happening until the very end. On a lighter note, I really enjoyed the various hand options Ash goes through, especially his Nintendo PowerGlove hand.
Having Bruce Campbell and Sam Raimi return to a universe they created so long ago is a fun and refreshing experience. The show does not take itself too seriously but at the same time, takes advantage of new special effects and a larger budget to provide some killer Deadites, demons, and gore without losing the signature Evil Dead style.
Ash vs Evil Dead has been renewed for a second season on STARZ and the first script has already been submitted. Plans are to have season two on TV in 2016, so more Ash vs Evil Dead is on the way with plans for the main cast to return.
I rate Ash vs Evil Dead Season 1 as 5\5.
What did you think of Ash vs Evil Dead’s first season? Comment below with your take!
If you haven’t seen the show yet, catch the first episode for free now on STARZ here.
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