Harry Vanderspeigle (Alan Tudyk from Firefly and Rogue One), the protagonist of Syfy’s new dramedy Resident alien, doesn’t belong in Patience, Colorado. Everyone in the small, remote town knows each other and as the new town doctor, Harry has to try to navigate its quirks and complicated personal dramas if he just wants to go home. While Harry tells everyone home is New York City, it is actually a different planet.
At first glance, Resident alien seems to be a science fiction twist on dramedy of the early 90s North facingwith an actual alien playing the role of the Jewish doctor Joel Fleischman. It also has obvious parallels to weird alien-focused sitcoms like 3. Stone from the sun and Solar opposites. But while Tudyk is the undisputed star of the show, Resident alien Creator Chris Sheridan turned the script for the fish-out-of-water tale by examining how anyone can feel like an outsider.
“Everyone has to belong to something that is greater than themselves,” mused Harry in one of the conclusions of the moral episode, summarizing what he has learned about humanity and himself in the last 45 minutes. “Yes, there is strength in numbers, but maybe it’s easier. Maybe people just feel better when they know that they are not alone on this earth. “
That’s pretty much the thesis of Resident alien, which was adapted from the Dark Horse Comics series of the same name by Peter Hogan and Steve Parkhouse. In addition to moving the setting from Washington to Colorado, Sheridan shifted the focus of the series away from solving crimes to focus more on human relationships. Harry, who taught himself to speak English by watching a lot Law & Orderis still fascinated by mysteries, but most of the action is devoted to the relationship of people of patience with one another, coming to terms with their past and trying to build a better future for themselves and their loved ones.
Of course, none of this should matter to Harry, who crashed on Earth during his mission to wipe out all human life. He killed the real Dr. Vanderspeigle, who had moved to Patience from New York in search of solitude and tried to avoid detection while wearing Vanderspeigle’s looks and looking for the parts of his ship that were buried under snow. But when Patience ‘town doctor Sam Hodges dies under mysterious circumstances, Harry is assigned to investigate this death and take on Sam’s previous job until a replacement can be found.
This includes working closely with Asta Twelvetrees (Sara Tomko), who was Sam’s nurse and saw him as a mentor and father figure. Asta quickly forms a strong bond with Harry after he intervenes to protect her from her abusive ex-husband. “I’ve always been an outsider,” Asta confesses to him. “Maybe that’s why I understand you. You are just different. I know how that feels Sometimes it is alien to me to just feel human. “
Tudyk and Tomko have simple chemistry, whether they are having conversations driven by Harry’s uncomfortable dullness or in heavier material, like Asta talking about her decision to give up the child she had as a teenager for adoption. It’s the kind of relationship that’s likely meant to turn into a will-her-not-them romance. But fortunately for the first seven episodes of the 10-episode season, it’s just one of mutual respect, if not always admiration, as both characters tend to make big mistakes and are forced to deal with them.
Most of the city’s residents also struggle with how they fit in. Asta’s best friend D’arcy Bloom (Alice Wetterlund) appears to be carefree when she pours drinks at the town bar, but she still grieves for her lost chance at fame when an injury ended her Olympic skiing career. Sheriff Mike Thompson (Corey Reynolds of The nearer) is jealous of the action in bigger cities and dreams of chasing a serial killer, while deputy Liv Baker (Elizabeth Bowen) wishes he’d listen to her findings so she feels like making a difference. The young mayor Ben Hawthorne (Levi Fiehler) is only trying to ensure that everything runs smoothly and to avoid controversy.
“This is actually the oldest building in Patience,” Ben tells a newcomer, pointing to a plaque in the town’s pub. “Yes, if you haven’t counted aboriginal history since the recorded time,” Asta corrects him. “And we’re going to take that badge off,” Ben replies, with the nervous energy of someone still learning to check their privilege.
The biggest problem Ben struggles with is his son Max (Judah Prehn), who possesses the rare genetic ability to recognize Harry’s true alien form and is desperate to convince his family and anyone else who will listen that the new doctor it’s a murderous alien. Max is a strange kid with an overactive imagination, and Harry’s lack of experience with people makes him childlike in his own way and makes their rivalry a surprisingly balanced game. The dynamics resemble a hybrid between Strange things and Invader Zim, Max plans to expose Harry while Harry tries to get this meddling kid out of the way.
Tudyk does an absolutely fantastic job with a role that is surprisingly physical, whether it’s the awkward way he keeps his mouth completely open while laughing at his own jokes or his attempts to keep eating steak while he is being hugged. His dialogue is alternately absurd and deeply philosophical, and his ability to quickly switch between the two modes offers some poignant scenes as the writers sometimes eschew light jokes in favor of bigger emotional beats.
While there are plenty of antics centered around Harry’s attempts to keep his secret, the theme of the show is that everyone in Solitaire has their own secrets. “People lie,” muses Harry. “It’s what you do. Maybe they don’t want people to know who they really are. “
Harry hides his nature to avoid capture, but he’s also addicted to the feeling of being seen. At a time when so many people have felt isolated and lonely in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Harry’s struggle to balance safety with a desire for camaraderie is particularly dependable. Harry is definitely the weirdest guy in town, but he also fits right in.
The Resident alien Pilot is Free streaming on Syfy’s website. New episodes will be posted on Syfy Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET.