Crazyhead episode 2 review: A Pine Fresh Scent
E4’s demon-fighting horror comedy Crazyhead really starts to mesh in its second episode…
This review contains spoilers
1.2 Pine Fresh Scent
Now this is really starting to gel. The comedy works. The horror-lite works. The two leads certainly work. Crazyhead may be treading familiar TV ground but its energy sells it.
More properly, Susan Wokoma and Cara Theobald’s energy sells it, pepped up by Howard Overman’s characteristically flippant, filthy script. The chemistry between the co-leads (hero Raquel is decidedly not the comedy sidekick here) is Crazyhead’s engine.
Episode two developed the show’s mythology sparingly, spending more of its time building the double-act between Amy and Raquel. We learned about the latter’s half-demon parentage and were treated to an impressive demonstration of her burgeoning powers when she went all Carrie White at the local ice rink. Raquel is special, superpowered and, in the ominous words of Crazyhead‘s antagonist “coming along nicely”.
Satisfyingly emerging as a serialised rather than freak-of-the-week story, Pine Fresh Scent picked up more or less where the previous episode left off. Dead Suzanne needed disposing of, so it was off to the all-night supermarket to buy spades and camouflage Tango. Cue light banter, a shallow grave and half a freshly killed rabbit being booted into a tree.
By the end of the hour, the pair were left with another corpse in the form of Raquel’s demon-dad Sawyer, sent back to hell by his enemies. The dad revelation brought up more questions than answers. Does that make Tyler more of a half-brother? Was Sawyer responsible for their original dad’s death? And just how has Tyler been kept unaware all this time?
There was fun to be had in the setting for Sawyer’s death, not least the blank eyes of that comedy fleet of penguin ice-scooters. Between the ice rink and last week’s bowling alley, municipal leisure centres are proving parlous in this show. Expect future demonic activity to take place against the backdrop of a Crazy Golf course or industrial estate Soft Play.
That comedic combination of banality and high-concept fantasy is very much Crazyhead’s schtick. Hence the demonic assassin having babysitter troubles and villainous Callum enjoying a spot of male-bonding mountain biking of a weekend. That extraordinary-meets-the-woefully-ordinary gag is a staple of British comedy horror used to great effect in the mighty Misfits, Being Human and here.
The rest of this show’s comedy is found in that other British obsession, sex. Amy channelled Donald Trump by skipping the introductions and grabbing Tyler by the unmentionables in a scene that showed off Theobald’s comic ability and paved the way for a romantic storyline down the line.
Amy’s other option in that direction is the besotted Jake, with whom we also spent more time this week. His crude flights of fancy were one of the episode’s less successful elements. A good part of the genius of Misfits’ Nathan and Rudy was down to actors Robert Sheehan and Joseph Gilgun. Without their natural charisma and timing, Jake’s smutty come-ons tend to fall flat. Especially in the case of the odd cloth-eared bit of dialogue such as his “…or are you just going to stand there like a pair of lesbians?”. (When was the last time you heard “lesbian” as a punchline in and of itself? Friends in 1996?)
Callum too, if he is the real villain, is another weak spot so far. No matter how many goons he blugeons or people he murders on his weekends with the boys, there’s no anticipation or tension surrounding him or his pursuit of Raquel, who seems to be able to handle herself even without the superpowers.
The supporting cast may be bland, but that’s not a problem shared by the two girls and their growing friendship. Each having lost someone close to them (even if next week’s preview indicated some movement on that front) has brought them closer together and their relationship remains this show’s main attraction. Susan Wokoma’s performance plays a big part in that. In 2016 it shouldn’t be at all remarkable that Crazyhead’s superpowered lead isn’t a petite blonde like all the other Buffys, but due to the depressing narrowness of representation elsewhere, it is. It’s remarkable and energising and about time.
Read Louisa’s review of the previous episode, A Very Trippy Horse, here.