SyFy’s attempt at an Adult Swim style animation block got off to a shaky start initially but now it looks like they might just have a big hit on their hands with Devil May Care, a new show created by Robot Chicken writer Douglas Goldstein. They certainly deserve one because as with the best that Adult Swim offers up it’s not only a really intriguing and original idea, but one which is packed with a lot of very funny moments and the laughs come thick and fast.
Beginning with the arrival in hell of our protagonist Zachary “Beans” Bean (Asif Ali), he’s initially confused as to where he is, and why too, and this is nicely mocked by a cynical guard to this hellish afterlife. But Hell isn’t what he, or the audience, might expect it to be as when we meet Alan Tudyk’s very chatty and very friendly Devil he explains “I got tired of the lava look so we gentrified” and that “I want my citizens to be happy”, and Beans is given a job as his new assistant.
It’s an idea that the writers have a lot of fun with throughout the episode, and this works so well because it doesn’t go for the easy gag and keeps it impressively unpredictable. Former President McKinley (Fred Tatasciore) is the Devil’s second in command and is a surly type who’s more than a little frustrated that history has all but forgotten him, the devil has a romantic love interest in Regina (Pamela Adlon) who gets many a funny a line, and there’s only really one problem with Hell in that everyone’s frightened of cats, and we soon find out why.
The cat subplot is the funniest aspect of the episode but also really great is the way Beans introduces social media in to Hell, much to the Devil’s delight, and with this there’s a great running gag about the point of Chatroulette type websites. The devil’s enthusiastic and supportive manner is something they also generate a lot of strong humour from, and it probably won’t come as a surprise to anyone given how amazing he is, but Alan Tudyk nails every line and is superb in the role. Ali’s also great as Beans though, Adlon’s as funny as she always is elsewhere, and there’s not a weak link in the cast.
The writing is so strong in this first episode that I’m extremely optimistic about the show’s future, it reminds me of Bojack Horseman and The Simpsons while adding its own unique sense of humour in to the mix, and it’s a concoction which works beautifully. Pilot episode’s always have a tricky balancing act when it comes to introducing the characters, location, tone and plot and it’s rare to see one that handles all of these factors well, but Devil May Care does so impressively and if it can maintain the quality in future episodes then it should be essential viewing.