Resident Alien Returns on CTV Sci-fi

Creator Chris Sheridan and star Alan Tudyk take us inside season two of their sci-fi comedy, murder-mystery, doctor drama, police procedural

Creator Chris Sheridan and star Alan Tudyk take us inside season two of their sci-fi comedy, murder-mystery, doctor drama, police procedural

After abandoning his mission to annihilate all humans, and saving Earth by detonating his explosive device in space, Harry Vanderspeigle (Alan Tudyk)—the octopus-like extraterrestrial who’s taken on the guise of a small-town Colorado doctor—soon realizes this crazy planet and its people are hard to quit, especially when there’s a human stowaway on your spaceship eager to take the wheel.

In the January 26 premiere, just moments after their departure, Harry and little Max (Judah Prehn) were back in Patience, Colorado, much to Harry’s initial dismay. Having discovered friendship, fear and fast food, the alien we can’t help but love is better equipped for life on Earth than he was the first time around—but that doesn’t mean Harry’s learning curve has tapered off in season two. “Harry has learned what love and friendship is, but doesn’t really know empathy,” says Chris Sheridan, the former Family Guy writer who developed the show based on a Dark Horse comic book. “This season is slowly stepping him through the process of getting to know what other people feel like, and maybe care about the connections between people and what they’re going through.”

His original mission now a bust, Harry’s new agenda will be evading General McCallister (Linda Hamilton) once she discovers that the man she abducted at the end of season one, thinking he was an alien, is just Ethan (Michael Cassidy), the annoyingly handsome M.D. who replaced Harry as town doctor. He will also have to safeguard humanity against whomever/whatever his own home planet sends next to carry out the destruction of our species. But mostly, Harry has to deal with his increasingly human afflictions, like memories and feelings.

Harry’s fish-out-of-water—or should we say, “cephalopod-out-of-water”—journey is what drives a show that co-star Alice Wetterlund (a.k.a. bartender D’Arcy Bloom) calls “an Olive Garden with a Chuck-E-Cheese attached,” due to its mix of drama, humour, procedural and sci-fi elements. It’s one wacky combo that wouldn’t be plausible without Tudyk’s talent, according to Sheridan. “There are two things happening with Alan: One is that he does an incredible job, especially in the body of Harry, of feeling a little bit off-centre. But the other thing that he has—because Alan is such a good person—that goodness shines through, even with Harry. I can’t say how crucial it is to have that piece be in there,” says the showrunner, who sees Harry as a childlike character with some fun murderous qualities. “We have a character who, in the first season, was basically trying to kill a child [to keep Max from blabbing about his secret alien identity], but you don’t want to hate the character for that. You ultimately feel like he’s this wild animal who just can’t help his impulses. He has this desire to kill all humans, and it’s funny to watch him talk about that and just wish he could rip someone’s head off, but underneath it all, you know that he doesn’t really understand what he’s doing.”

Thankfully, this is an area where Tudyk himself feels more than comfortable. “Whenever I have to play a very serious role, I’m always trying to interject comedy,” the actor explains. “The human condition is fairly funny… at least, my view of the human condition is pretty ridiculous. I think I don’t play a lot of ‘serious’ roles because, when I audition, I might tell a joke that doesn’t fit. I’ve never done a horror movie, because I’d want to point out the ridiculousness of the horror. Those tend to be the things that I gravitate towards.”

Yet in this case, Tudyk’s strengths get stretched to a point the actor finds exhilarating. “It’s rare to get the opportunity to play drama and comedy—physical comedy, broad comedy, wordplay—but then also action,” he says. “The trick is in the writing to make it gel. It’s a tough line to walk, and I think Chris Sheridan and all of the writers do a great job making a show that is so many things at once.”

While everyone loves a good sci-fi yarn and some slapstick yuks to boot, the draw for a show like Resident Alien is its roots in emotions that any viewer can identify with. “A comedy series about an alien body snatcher, it’s a story we’ve seen before,” says Wetterlund, herself an accomplished standup comic. “But it really is the humanity from an outsider’s perspective that we’re trying to exploit, and I think we do a really good job…”

In its sophomore outing, the ridiculousness promises to keep ramping up, but this second season also deepens the lived-in personal relationships in the fictional small town that the production team has created right here in Ladysmith, B.C.

“Season one acts as an expansion of the pilot, ultimately; and now, season two is an expansion of season one. We’re just growing exponentially as we continue… like an uncontrollable fungus. Or a case of poison ivy,” deadpans Corey Reynolds, who plays local sheriff Mike Thompson. “If you liked season one, you’re gonna love season two.”

Resident Alien airs Wednesdays at 6 p.m. & Midnight on CTV Sci-fi