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SYFY is about to make first contact with Resident Alien, and before the new show enjoys its world premiere next week on Jan. 27, we thought it might be helpful to provide you with a primer on what can only be described as the "small-town murder mystery, sci-fi doctor dramedy Earth needs right now."
It's a mouthful, to be sure, but we're here to break it all down for you.
Created for television by Family Guy veteran Chris Sheridan, the series is based on the Dark Horse comic book series of the same name by Peter Hogan and Steve Parkhouse. The comic, which began in April 2012, is still running with a sixth volume — "Your Ride's Here" — scheduled to go on sale this June. Unlike the source material, the adaptation takes place in the sleepy and secluded mountain town of Patience, Colorado (rather than Washington state).
"I mean, they're doing different things. It is very different and there's no denying that. But I don't really mind because it's really good. It's done really well. The whole end product is enjoyable, which is kind of the best you can hope for, really," Hogan recently told SYFY WIRE.
While creative license is always par for the course with adaptations like this, the Resident Alien TV show does walk a similar narrative path as its comic book progenitor. The plot follows a visitor from outer space who crash-lands on Earth before assuming the identity of one Dr. Harry Vanderspeigle. Wanting to keep a low profile, the alien finds his plans upended when he's forced to interact with the denizens of Patience after the town's physician turns up murdered.
"I took the storyline from the first graphic novel ["Welcome to Earth!"], which is the death of Sam Hodges, and I'm arcing that out for the first season as the town story and Harry, the alien story, is about him coming to terms with his emotions," Sheridan, who was inspired by a real-life close encounter, explained to us.
Harry's live-action counterpart is played by Firefly's Alan Tudyk, an actor with a genre pedigree like no other. Swinging for the fences with his comedic performance, Tudyk occupies the role of a genuine fish out of water as the unnamed alien attempts to understand human culture through media such as Law & Order. This crash course on bipedal relations isn't enough and once Harry takes over as head doctor of the Patience health clinic in the wake of Dr. Hodges' death, it becomes apparent to the locals that he's something of an oddball.
"The minute they told me it was going to be Alan, it struck me as kind of dream casting, and his performance as Harry proves that to be true," Hogan said in early 2020. "There's a real... otherness to Alan that makes him perfect for the role. Of course, the TV version of Harry isn't exactly the same as the book version, but they still have a lot in common. Alan's also great at physical comedy, which is something that's very difficult to pull off in a comic book."
Despite his bizarre behavior, Harry actually starts improving the lives of those around him via his unorthodox methods. That said, these individuals have no clue that the E.T. walking in their midst is weighing the pros and cons of whether or not humanity should be spared from his species' cosmic wrath. Harry's strongest link to our world is Asta Twelvetrees (Sara Tomko), a strong and sarcastic health clinic worker with a rather turbulent past. Her best friend is the blunt and carefree D'arcy Bloom (Alice Wetterlund), a bartender at the town's local watering hole and a former Olympic athlete, who takes a liking to the main character's strange ways.
SO THE DOCTOR'S DEAD. WHAT NOW?
Following Hodges' murder, Harry is asked to become the town's temporary doctor by Ben Hawthorne (Levi Fiehler), Patience's nebbishy young mayor. Ironically, Ben's son, Max (Judah Prehn), is the only person for miles around who can see through Harry's little disguise. Max eventually becomes "The Boy Who Cried Alien," which could be enough to convince his father and mother, Kate (Meredith Garretson), to take drastic action for the sake of their son's mental health. In addition, Max's genetic ability to glimpse the alien's true form kicks off a Road Runner/Wile E. Coyote-esque rivalry between the two parties.
"I discovered [that] in the process of thinking about how I want these characters to come together," Sheridan said. "It's fun having the kid be an adversary and having Harry want to get rid of him. But to not be repetitive, you've got to find different ways to do that... He's gonna try to outsmart him and trick him. I like that they're combative and what's become funny in the show that we found is not necessarily the 10-year-old kid rising to Harry's level, but the 40-year-old man sinking to the child's level."
All the while, the aforementioned homicide is investigated by the bombastic — and oftentimes callous — Sheriff Thompson (Corey Reynolds) and his timid — albeit clever — deputy, Liv Baker (Elizabeth Bowen). Just as Harry's cover starts to solidify, the government begins snooping around for him. The alien hunt is led by the ruthless and calculating General McCallister (The Terminator's Linda Hamilton), who dispatches two agents — David Logan (Alex Barima) and Lisa Casper (Mandell Maughan) — as her boots on the ground.
Justin Falvey and Darryl Frank executive produce Resident Alien on behalf of Amblin TV (the small-screen arm of Steven Spielberg's production company), while Mike Richardson and Keith Goldberg are EPs for Dark Horse. David Dobkin (Wedding Crashers) executive produced and directed the pilot episode.
Resident Alien debuts on SYFY on Wed., Jan. 27 at 10 p.m. EST. For SYFY WIRE's guide on how to check out the new show, click here.