Check out our introduction to the show here.
TV’s funniest vampires are back with a second series of What We Do in the Shadows, which manages to improve on the already-brilliant series one. The spin-off of the 2014 film of the same name by Taika Waititi and Jermaine Clement presents vampires Nandor, Laszlo and Nadja and their daily antics in Staten Island, along with some excellent guest stars, engaging story lines, and perfectly-timed meta moments.
What makes series two so good is the development of plot points only hinted at in the first series. In the concluding episode of last series, Guillermo (Harvey Guillen), Nandor’s familiar, actually has Van Helsing DNA – a.k.a Professor Abraham Van Helsing, the famous vampire killer from Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Throughout series two, Guillermo attempts to conceal this knowledge from his master while accidentally becoming a seasoned vampire assassin, covertly killing all vampires who threaten Nandor, Laszlo and Nadja. This duality connects the episodes as the stakes are raised, both literally and figuratively, and brilliantly builds up to a dramatic, action-packed climax.
Nandor the Relentless (played by Kayvan Novak) continues to be both endearing and hilarious, despite his ominous title. The relationship with his familiar, Guillermo, is explored further as Nandor begins to suspect Guillermo’s vampire-slaying secret. While the tension grows, so does their reluctant affection for each other, as we see the extent of Nandor’s dependence on Guillermo for both service and companionship. Laszlo and Nadja (played by the endlessly charismatic Matt Berry and Natasia Demetriou) are more brilliant than ever as the dysfunctional vampiric married couple. We experience their musical roots as they discover they’ve been ripped off by Dexy’s Midnight Runners and The Beach Boys as they wrote the tunes for ‘Come on Eileen’ and ‘Kokomo’ centuries ago, concluding in a memorable open mic performance. As always, the dynamic between the main characters is fantastic television; it’s hard to imagine that any other actors could have played them so well.
There’s an array of surprising guest stars, such as Mark Hamill (Star Wars) as Laszlo’s old enemy, Hayley Joel Osment (The Sixth Sense) as Guillermo’s rival familiar. and Lucy Punch (Bad Teacher) as the leader of a group of semen-stealing witches. Mark Hamill (a big fan of the show) in particular is perfect for the role as he flexes his improvisational skills in his priceless interactions with Matt Berry. This series also sees the welcomed return of Simon the Devious (Nick Kroll) in his continued quest to obtain Laszlo’s cursed hat, which wreaked havoc in series one.
The episode ‘Brain Scramblies’ features one of the series’ best jokes, with the vampires invited to their human neighbours’ Superbowl party (which they misunderstand to be a ‘superb owl’ party). Naturally, this creates great confusion for them when everyone watches American Football and there is no sight of ‘the greatest owl of all time’. The mockumentary style complements the show’s tone perfectly and continues to add a meta-level of humour. As in series one, the camera crew are shown to be in constant danger as they follow the vampires everywhere – the occasional shot of a boom operator or cameraman legging it away from hordes of hungry vampires never gets old.
As one of the best comedies in recent years, and by improving on the first series in every way, What We Do in the Shadows series two is well worth your time.
Words by Lucy Ingram