TV Recommendation: I am Entertained by ‘Resident Alien’

A white man in his 40s with a green and black gingham shirt with an exaggerated frown
Alan Tudyk does not like what he sees. Photo courtesy IMDB.

The first two seasons of Resident Alien just hit Netflix, and they are a delight to watch.

I’ve been a fan of Alan Tudyk since his turn in A Knight’s Tale, so when I had heard he was going to be in a sitcom about an alien a few years back, I put it on my (ever-growing) list of things to watch when I invent the 48-hour day. Not having cable, I was a little disappointed that it was on Syfy / Peacock, as that is one of streamers I don’t have.

But lo and behold, Netflix got the first two seasons (Syfy is still on season 3) and I started watching. Next thing I knew, I had binged the entire first season.

Wikipedia calls Resident Alien a science fiction mystery comedy-drama, and while that’s a mouthful, it’s also the best way to describe this series. Based on the Dark Horse comic of the same name, we are introduced to Dr. Harry Vanderspiegle (Tudyk), a New Yorker now in the small town of Patience, Colorado. The alien crash lands nearby and takes over the body of Harry, and accidentally becomes part of the community when the town’s doctor is murdered.

The first season is 10 episodes, the second is 16, and the third is 8 episodes long. (No news on if it’s been renewed for a fourth season yet.) The series follows not only the mystery of the murder, but Harry’s gradual involvement with humanity as well as the growing issue of aliens being on Earth.

The humor mostly comes from watching Harry – who thinks he’s an expert on human behavior – actually try and pretend to be human. I feel that the character is coded as autistic in many ways, from his way of talking direct to his uninterest in being touched/hugged, and I relate to him a great deal being autistic myself. So far, I also have enjoyed that – while occasionally corrected when being especially rude – Harry is never expected to change who he is by the humans who do know his secret. I never feel it’s laughing AT Harry, but more the situation itself.

a Native American woman in a brown jacket on the left, and a white male in a black suit look at the camera in front of a river
Sara Tomko and Alan Tudyk investigate. Photo courtesy IMDB.

The cast is diverse, with Harry’s assistant (and eventually best friend) being Native American (Sara Tomko as Asta Twelvetrees), a black sheriff (Corey Reynolds), and more. The female characters are all well-written with back stories and plots of their own, from the owner of the town pub who was an Olympic skier (Alice Wetterlund) to the town’s deputy (Elizabeth Bowen) who starts out as underappreciated but gradually starts to get the credit she deserves. It regularly passes the Bechdel-Wallis Test. The show is filled with great genre-based guest stars as well, from Linda Hamilton as a general who’s a shadowy government official to Terry O’Quinn as the ‘Alien Tracker’, a podcaster who is searching for truth.  

The show is engaging: an ongoing plot that makes you want to keep tuning in but is not so intrinsic that you feel like there’s no room for the other plots that crop up. It does something rare these days – it follows multiple characters and their storylines, weaving them all into the main storyline as Harry interacts with people. The plot twists and surprises keeps it fresh while the characters make it comfortable and inviting.

Some of the cast, as well as creator Chris Sheridan, will be at WonderCon this weekend for a panel discussion on the show and promoting the third season finale, which airs on Syfy on April 3. I’ll have a chance to sit and talk to them prior to the panel. For more information about Resident Alien, visit the SyFy page for the series or visit Netflix if you’d like a First Encounter.

Author: Angie Fiedler Sutton

Angie Fiedler Sutton is a writer, podcaster, and all-round fangirl geek. She has been published in Den of Geek, Stage Directions, LA Weekly, The Mary Sue, and others.

She also produces her own podcast, Contents May Vary, where she interviews geeky people about geeky things. You can see all her work (and social media channels) at angiefsutton.com.


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