Stan Against Evil
“Dig Me Up Dig Me Down”
Season 1, Episode 1
This is a First Look Review of IFC’s Stan Against Evil starring John C. McGinley, Janet Varney, and Deborah Baker Jr.
Don't crap an apple.
With both Comedy Bang! Bang! and Maron done this year and Portlandia coming to an end after season 8, IFC is in dire need of new comedy shows. The network, once known for playing little known films but now playing Batman Begins and reruns of The Three Stooges, is on its way to greatness again with the airing of Stan Against Evil. Created by veteran comedy writer Dana Gould, the show mixes supernatural and comedic elements in a fantastical setting.
John C. McGinley stars as the titular Stan who loses his wife and job in relatively rapid succession. At first glance, the show comes off as brazen -- unafraid to share its true intentions with viewers. The theme song is appropriately dark utilizing classic motifs such as lightening strikes and cobwebs. The first scene has Stan attacking an elderly woman he believes to be laughing at him during his wife’s funeral. His attack is proved right later on in the episode as the woman is revealed to be an accused witch who was burned at the stake a century prior. Sheriffs of the town are said to be cursed because the constable a hundred years earlier burned 172 people, believing them to possess powers. He was half right given that this woman comes to kill Stan and his replacement Evie. These two are also joined by Deborah Baker Jr. (who you may know from the somewhat average CBS multicamera sitcom The Great Indoors), playing Stan’s daughter, Denise.
Written by Dana Gould, Stan Against Evil is appropriately looney. Stan’s overt grumpiness is great comic fodder as he spouts lines like "All I want to do is nothing and I can't even do that" when his TV won’t work. He plays even better with Evie as his continued sexism is constantly inflated. A man that leaves his mission to dig up the body of his wife only to prove another woman wrong -- risking both of their lives -- is both obscene and amusing at the same time. But most of the time the show moves too fast, often brushing over important aspects for the sake of a joke. Nate Mooney plays deputy Leon Drinkwater whose main purpose for the episode was to provide direct exposition for Varney’s Evie. Then again, that might have been the joke. Direction is nice too with slanted camera angles and shaky fight scenes.
Still, McGinley can’t seem to shake the Dr. Cox off of him (or rather this may just be how he acts). The actor hasn’t been on TV since the two seasoned series Ground Floor and before that Burn Notice. His grizzled manner of speech and bouncy line delivery is familiar, giving faint flashes of JD bullying. It might be a turnoff for most but there is something to this character who plays as a mixture of Ron Swanson and Ash from Evil Dead.
Should you watch Stan Against Evil?
It’s a nice little inconsequential show. While you gain nothing of note from it (like most series), it’s worth the 22 minutes or so per episode. McGinley and Varney are a good pair. And Gould’s writing promises at least 171 more adventures.