Following the hit comedy and mockumentary What We Do in the Shadows (2014), Jemaine Clement (Flight of the Conchords) and Taika Waititi (Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Thor: Ragnarok) have teamed up again to create the hotly anticipated TV spinoff: Wellington Paranormal.
We first meet the Officers Minogue (Mike Minogue) and O’Leary (Karen O’Leary) in the mocumentary, who are responding to a noise complaint to the vampire household. In a tense scene, the police officers enter to inspect the house. However, due to hypnotism, the police become entirely unobservant of both the dead body in the basement and a levitating vampire, focusing instead on fire hazards and missing smoke detectors.
In Wellington Paranormal, Minogue and O’Leary are enlisted by their captain, Sergeant Maaka (Maaka Pohatu), to solve the Kiwi capital’s supernatural and paranormal cases. Together, they form the Wellington Police Paranormal Unit. In the first episode of the series, they are taking care of a young woman who claims to be Bazu’aal of the Unholy Realm. This time, however, the officers are marginally more observant. While the young woman is projectile vomiting green sulphuric acid in the background, Officer O’Leary narrates matter-of-factly to the camera, that yes, the girl ‘is clearly quite unwell’. The demonic spirit possesses a number of different people in Wellington, and the rest of the episode follows Minogue and O’Leary as they attempt to apprehend the spirit.
Following the tradition of the deadpan humour in Flight of the Conchords and What We Do in the Shadows, this is a cop comedy in the vein of The Office and reality show parodies. Filming with a hand-held camera, the show revels in understated jokes and puns, and the plot becomes increasingly absurd. The episode works as a stand-alone from the film, and the characters are quickly and easily introduced. O’Leary is the leader and a level-headed rationalist, and Minogue is her slightly dim, but well-meaning, partner. The actors give good performances, and it clear that they have good chemistry.
The first part of the six-part series sets the show up to a good start, and sets a promising precedent for the episodes to come. If the show manages to keep up the pace and avoids having its jokes becoming too repetitive, this can certainly become a comedy classic.