One of TV’s best shows is nearing its “mid-season finale,” getting a fraction of the attention it deserves.
“Resident Alien” (9 p.m. Wednesdays on Syfy) has it all – droll humor, zestful science-fiction, intriguing characters and a talking octopus. Its March 2 episode is another good one, with two more before the show rests after March 16.
Our hero (well, our protagonist) had a simple assignment: Secretly land on Earth, trigger a device to destroy all humans, then return home.
That started smoothly, when he killed a cabin-dwelling loner and assumed his body (shown here). Then the problems began: Part of his kill-everyone device was lost in the crash; he must find or replace it. Also, Harry (the guy whose body he has) was a doctor who suddenly is needed in town. The new “Harry,” a fast learner, had to take over the clinic.
Now his alien form can be seen by two beings, a boy (the mayor’s son) and an octopus. Some others know his secret – Asta (who works at the clinic), her dad (who has a diner) and the boy’s friend. In the March 2 episode, Harry — as we’ll call the fake one — has a clue about someone else from his planet; he and Asta head to New York City. For Harry, who hates people and loves pies, this is a mixed blessing.
Some of this might sound a little silly. (OK, all of it sounds a lot silly.) But it’s produced by Steven Spielberg’s company, Amblin, and done with wit and restraint. This is a funny show, but it’s also solid sci-fi and good human drama, about lots of people (and one alien) who don’t quite fit in.
Alan Tudyk is a sci-fi veteran, from “Firefly” to the voice of Mr. Nobody on “Doom Patrol.” He makes Harry someone to empathize with, despite his kill-us-all mission.
Harry has landed in a diverse Northwest community — Asta is an American Indian, the sheriff is Black, the boy’s friend is Muslim – full of interesting people.
In the March 2 episode, the sheriff has a heart-to-heart talk with his deputy; in the past, he had a tragedy and she had a UFO encounter. Also, the mayor has a journey with the bartender; they were close as teens, but he married someone else.
All four people are depicted with subtlety and restraint. The hour also starts with a flashback to the old Harry – the real Harry. And it concludes the octopus’ story, a deep dive into dark – VERY dark – humor.
After that, it’s time to visit New York … a place where most of us would feel quite alien. The episode ends with a musical nod to the “Midnight Cowboy” movie … then leaves us anxious for the next two episodes, before “Resident Alien” takes a break.