Imagine a mashup of My Name is Earl and Supernatural, or a live-action episode of The Simpsons' annual “Treehouse of Horror.” Stan Against Evil, IFC’s latest original series, is a horror comedy with more Looney Tunes-style gags than careful plot development, but there is no pretense of amounting to anything more. It’s an adult comedy with cartoonish sensibilities, which makes for a surprisingly refreshing break from the heavy handedness of other horror shows.
John C. McGinley continues to hone his sitcom Clint Eastwood persona; one might expect this witch-hunting, small town New Hampshire sheriff to be merely a Newhart-ish dream by his similarly gruff Scrubs character, Dr. Cox. After seeing a witch at his wife’s funeral (and subsequently brawling with the old woman on top of the coffin and thus losing his job),
Sheriff Stanley Miller discovers that his late wife kept some scary secrets locked up in her sewing room. In addition to the Grimm medieval weapons hanging on the walls, Stan finds a Charmed book full of “ass backwards Mexican cha-cha talk” that requires the use of a crystal necklace to decipher, one inconveniently buried with his wife.
You’re the Worst's Janet Varney plays the Boston cop recruited to become the town’s new sheriff, only to be warned afterward by her Don-Knotts-on-meth deputy (played by Nate Mooney, best known as one of the McPoyle brothers on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) that each sheriff is subject to a centuries-old curse dating back to a fanatic constable’s witch trials that claimed 172 lives. The show wastes no time on formulaic doubt: almost immediately the newly minted Sheriff Evie Barret has her own encounter with the witch. What follows is a fast-forwarded origin story as Evie and Stan team up to kill the witch before (presumably) they will tackle the problem of the remaining 171 angry witches’ demonic spirits that still haunt the town.
Curiously, this marks the third time in recent memory that a channel has treated television audiences to a brutal brain bashing (or the fourth, if you count Westworld's suicidal android). As with The Walking Dead and American Horror Story, the most fashionable execution method these days seems to be a baseball bat, crowbar, or pipe to the head. Perhaps some imitation is inevitable given the months of hype and anticipation, but at least in Stan Against Evil this action causes no more shock than would an anvil dropping from the sky.
If you gave up on The Walking Dead after Glenn’s death because you couldn’t stand the thought of investing any more time in a show that treats its most well-developed characters so poorly, then perhaps you should try a lighter show that purposefully keeps its characters a bit more two-dimensional for admirable comedic effect.