Netflix highly recommended a Canadian television series to me, Todd and the Book of Pure Evil. I was skeptical, but I figured I would give it a try. After all, Netflix has a good track record with me. Plus, it was recommending the series because on my interest in John Dies at the End. And I was pleased. Todd is very much like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but with a sense of humor. In fact, that was the big problem with that show: somehow Joss Whedon forgot that the idea of Buffy was a joke. Todd has no such problem: it is straight comedy. In fact, it’s quite silly.
The basic story is that there is this eponymous Book of Pure Evil that is hanging around the high school. It feeds off people’s desires by giving them what they want. But just like the curse of the claw, the dream is twisted into a nightmare. For example, the eponymous character Todd wishes to play the guitar really well but it causes people to bleed out of various orifices. (Did I mention the show also has a fair share of coarse humor?) By the end of the second episode, four students have formed a gang to stop the Book of Evil. There is stoner Todd, who is perhaps the least interesting character. There is Jenny whose father disappeared while reporting on the Book. Todd has a huge crush on her. There is Curtis, Todd’s one-handed best friend who gets most of the best lines. And there is science geek Hannah. Both her parents are dead, so I assume that was due to the Book. She has a crush on Todd.
This gang of high school kids do battle not only with the book but with guidance councilor Atticus. While wearing a polyester suit, he commonly meets with a group of satanists wearing beautiful, heavy robes. Once, when Atticus was being called by the head satanist, the picture of the satanist with his hood covering half his face shows up on the phone. Funny stuff. Also among the adults is the janitor Jimmy who seems much like Todd will be in 20 years.
Perhaps the best part of the show is a group of three head bangers who hang out in the school parking lot smoking pot. They give Todd advice in the form of riddles. They are, of course, a great homage to Macbeth’s three witches. Why not? Plot some Shakespeare into the middle of a “horror” film. Works for me.
Thus far, I’ve just watched the first two episodes which I think are supposed to work as a kind of pilot. And it is quite entertaining. It certainly isn’t up to the standards of John Dies at the End. For one thing, it is produced on a pretty low budget. There are very few locations. Little set dressing. Few extras. Dodgy lighting. But the acting is good and all the production works to tell the stories. So I’m interested to see how the series goes. But it is definitely worth checking out.