September 7th, 2011


Death Valley

Before it premiered last week, I was pretty sure I wasn't going to be the target audience for the new comedy series Death Valley simply because it airs on MTV, a network that already left me behind two generations ago. But I might be wrong about that. I might, in fact, be the perfect audience.

Death Valley can best be summed up as Reno 911 meets True Blood. Shot in faux documentary style (more about that in a moment), the premise is that the San Fernando Valley has become infested with zombies, vampires, and werewolves. A special police force, the Undead Task Force (UTF), headed up by Lt. Dashell (Bryan Callen, whom you may remember from Mad TV), has been tasked with containing the problem. A camera crew accompanies them, Cops-like, on calls, though here the shirtless redneck who runs away from the officers is more likely to be a werewolf than a meth head. Or, actually, he could be both.

It's much gorier than I thought it would be, and some of the humor was surprisingly dark, both of which I consider redemptive qualities for a network whose concept of edgy until now has been Katy Perry in a sparkler bra and Jersey meatheads making out in a hot tub. The faux documentary style works for the material, but this being an overproduced MTV series, they sometimes forget this part of the premise in favor of flashy editing and camera POVs that couldn't possibly be from the documentary team. I found this oddly frustrating. If you're going high concept, you have to stay consistent.

I think Death Valley, much like Comedy Central's Ugly Americans, requires you to love monsters to really enjoy the show. If you're left cold by zombies, vampires, and werewolves, there's nothing here for you, because the police stuff is purely secondary to the monster mash. But if you love monsters as much as I do, you'll understand why I see potential here for a very fun show. I'll definitely be tuning in again to see how it develops.