DVD REVIEW: TODD AND THE BOOK OF PURE EVIL SEASON 2

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10.24.2013

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BUY FROM AMAZON: CLICK HERE!
MSRP $19.98
RATED Not Rated
STUDIO Entertainment One
RUNNING TIME 346 Minutes
SPECIAL FEATURES
• Blooper Reel
• Deleted and Extended Scenes
• Extended Musical Numbers
• Special FX Bonus Material
• “In Memoriam”: A tribute to the fallen students of Crowley High
• Three Audio Commentaries with Cast and Crew

The Pitch

It’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer as written by Brian Posehn and produced by Troma.

The Humans

Alex House, Maggie Castle, Bill Turnbull, Melanie Leishman, Chris Leavens, Jason Mewes

The Nutshell

Todd and the Gang return for more gore-a-fying adventures at Crowley High. Todd is torn between his horny needs and his dark destiny; Jenny discovers the reason behind her Dad’s disappearance; Cutris’ ex-girlfriend returns to throw the Gang in turmoil; and Hannah discovers a secret so disturbing that it threatens her own identity. Meanwhile, Atticus is determined to unlock the Book’s power for himself, and Jimmy is, well, doing Jimmy things.

The Lowdown

For those of you who are unaware, Todd and the Book of Pure Evil is a Canadian television show that’s often referred to as a mash-up of Degrassi and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. This description doesn’t really adequately explain it, though. My above example works for the layman, but if you are a complete TV nerd, here’s the best analogy I can make: it’s what a mash-up of Big Wolf on Campus, Community, and Class of Nuke ‘Em High might look like.

The gist of the show is that our titular hero Todd, a metalhead and sex crazed virginal idiot, is a student at Crowley High. Crowley is the only school in a small town that was founded by Satanists looking for a demonic artifact called the Book of Pure Evil which will be used by a prophesied “pure evil one” who we learned last season is probably Todd. Todd is trying to find a way to destroy the book and somehow dodge his infernal destiny with the help of his friends Curtis (his one-armed and marginally stupider best friend), Jenny (a goth girl who is far out of Todd’s league but has teamed up with him as the book has something to do with her father’s disappearance), and Hannah (a nerdy mad scientist type who every male viewer of the show has developed an unhealthy obsession with, present company included). Rounding out the cast are Jason Mewes as a sage-like Janitor (I would mention he’s a pot-head but I think you figured that out at “Jason Mewes”) and Atticus, a dimwitted second-generation Satanist and the guidance counselor of the school who is also trying to get the book to serve his own ends.

Get to know this face, you will become obsessed with it.

The book is a Faustian object which seeks out troubled souls and gives them their greatest desire with the caveat that their wish is twisted into some horrible perversion of the concept that usually involves the violent and horrible death and/or mutilation of the person involved. Usually Todd and company either end up on the side-lines or actually end up facilitating the gruesome end of the book’s current charge whereupon the book flies away not to be seen again until the next episode.

Season one was pretty hit or miss and seemed to have a bit of trouble figuring out how to incorporate the show’s main characters into the episodic Twilight Zone-like structure of the show. Whole episodes had very little to do with Todd or his friends and one in particular put a couple of toes over the line between dark comedy and bad taste. Fortunately the last two or three of the episodes rammed it in and broke it off in an epic finale that promised great things to come.

The goal of episode one (Redierment Home) is to bring us back down gently from the lofty heights we were left at when the first season ended. A lot of shows, even good ones, tend to completely fail at this task by just dropping us back into the same old scenario and making it seem that none of the progress made in the last season meant anything and all the plot points we loved have been tossed out in favor of restoring the status quo.

Redierment Home lets the viewer down easy by showing that regardless of all the game-changing things that have occurred prior to now, these characters are still the same confederacy of dunces that they always were and no matter of incredible events will ever change that. It also helps that it’s one of the more action oriented episodes. It ramps up the gore, the excitement, and the gory juvenile horror. In many ways, Redierment Home is the quintessential episode of this show.

“Alright, who else thinks Canadian TV sucks?”

Unlike its predecessor, Season 2 is almost entirely made up of strong episodes that are entertaining in their own right and also incorporate our hapless heroes in a way that doesn’t hurt the narrative of the episode or the season’s arc. Highlights include: 2 Girls, 1 Tongue where The Phantom of Crowley High (a victim of the book from Season 1) returns in a musical episode that is the best musical episode on any TV show ever if only because it features a song where the chorus is “Wolf rape! Wolf rape!” and Fisting Fantasy where a griefed gamer uses the book to turn Crowley High into a Dungeons and Dragons-esque video game where Todd and friends are the heroes. Even when episodes are on the weak side, the writers use this opportunity to beef up the main storyline and develop the characters more.

Season 2’s one “miss” episode is episode 4 (Simply the Beast). It involves cheerleaders going missing, which Todd and Curtis hypothesize is the work of “The Beast.” It’s a half-assed attempt to develop Jenny as a character and the monster of the week is one of the dumbest of the entire show (yes, dumber than the giant baby from season 1).

The best possible ringtone to have when someone calls you in a public place.

Character development this season is so heavy that the writers seem to be trying to make up for all the time they wasted not doing it in Season 1. Curtis and Todd grow as characters and Curtis and Hannah’s relationship develops in an organic way that’s sweet without developing into overly cutesy nonsense. Speaking of Hannah, she’s got more revelations this season than Todd and I daresay her character has become as much if not more important than Todd.

There are a couple of casualties this season character-wise. Atticus went through some major changes at the end of season one and unfortunately that’s all seemed to have been dropped in favor of just making him into a Wile E. Coyote-esque evil buffoon who is too incompetent to ever be a real threat. He’s still one of the funniest characters on the show but part of why the character worked were his few dark moments that made his idiocy funnier. He has a couple token dark scenes but they’re both weak and not worth bringing up.

Jenny is the real issue with Season 2. Part of the problem is that Jenny was never really written with any purpose beyond “looking for her father who disappeared looking for the book of pure evil” and “is a really hot girl that Todd wants to have sex with.” Both of these plot threads are definitively tied off before the mid-season mark and the few half-hearted attempts to give her a reason to stick around in episodes like Simply the Beast, B.Y.O.B.O.P.E., and Loser Generated Content but mostly she just feels like a sarcastic girl sidekick that Todd doesn’t need.

Tom Skerritt has really let himself go.

The finale is good and a perfect example of a season finale that could just as easily serve as a series finale. Things get pretty well tied up and a lot of the big questions are answered, but new things are revealed and a whole new series of plot threads and questions take their place.

Unfortunately, the show has been canceled. The creators have started an Indiegogo campaign to raise money so they can make an animated movie to close out the series. I have nothing against animated movies but a lot of what makes Todd and the Book of Pure Evil work are the facial expressions and body language of the cast. I do not think that even the finest animator can adequately capture this facet of the show, but I suppose it is better than nothing.

For those of you who are already fans you’ve most likely already seen this on Netflix or torrents or just good old fashioned Canadian TV, but if you don’t already own this set you should probably get it if for no reason other than to support something you love. And to those who don’t even know Todd: it’s a fun, gory, and sophomorically hilarious show that’s a love letter to horror movies, heavy metal, and just stupid fun. I heartily recommend it.

Pictured: The joy you shall partake in

The Package

The special features here aren’t bad but they’re nothing special. You’ve got your usual bloopers, outtakes, and featurettes. There’s also 3 audio commentaries, but they’re on the least interesting episodes of the season so don’t get too excited. There are extended versions of the songs from the rock opera episode, which is easily the best feature the set has to offer. This disc does have english subtitles.

Rating:
★★★★★

Out of a Possible 5 Stars



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