Fans of the cult Kiwi mockumentary What We Do in the Shadows got a special treat on Sunday at New York Comic Con: the entire first episode of the anticipated FX adaptation! Executive producers Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi and Paul Simms were on hand for the screening at Manhattan's Hammerstein Ballroom, which was followed by a Q&A about what to expect of the 10-episode first season.
Unlike the 2014 film, which took place in Clement's and Waititi's native New Zealand, the FX series of the same name will follow the banal everyday lives of a trio of vampires on Staten Island who have been roommates for hundreds and hundreds of years. Sadly, Clement and Waititi won't star in the series. Instead, the half-hour comedy features Matt Berry, Kayvan Novak, Natasia Demetriou and Harvey Guillen in the leading roles.
Based on the pilot screened at Comic Con, the upcoming series perfectly captures the hilarious ennui of the critically beloved film. Watching the mismatched personalities of the fussy former pillager Nandor (Novak) clash with married couple Nadja (Demetriou) and Lazslo (Berry) is an absolute delight, but it might by Guillen who steals the show as Nandor's eager and devoted familiar Guillermo, who hopes that his 10 years of service will earn him the gift of eternal life.
While What We Do in the Shadows had the crowd at Hammerstein laughing out loud throughout the half-hour episode, the series isn't without its darker, more gruesome moments too. Finding where to draw that line in a show that is at once a comical mockumentary but also about a trio of murderous vampires is an ongoing process for the producers, who admit the first time they shot one scene in the pilot it came off too grim.
The show's setting of Staten Island is also a far cry from the original Wellington, but the unexpected shift in locale was actually done for a very good reason. As the producers explained, when the vampires were sent abroad to conquer America 200 or so years ago, they were dropped off at Staten Island and simply never made it any further, which is exactly what one would expect from this bumbling group of bloodsuckers. But one episode in the first season will see the trio taking their first venture into Manhattan, where they'll start to discover the expanse of the new world.
"They've assumed that Staten Island is all of New York or maybe even all of America, but there's a whole story where they go into Manhattan for the first time to meet the Manhattan vampires who are literally cooler than they are," Simms revealed.
Fans won't have to wait until that episode to meet other vampires, though. The pilot reveals that Nandor, Nadja and Lazslo also have a fourth roommate, Colin Robinson (Mark Proksch), who is a different type of paranormal parasite: an energy vampire who subsides off sucking the energy out humans, often by boring them to sleep through banal conversation.
"We hadn't thought of anything like that for the movie," Clement noted, "but when I was reading about different kinds of vampires, that was one that people mentioned as a real type of vampire that we've all come up against. ... Everyone who watches it will be like, 'We have someone in our office that's like that.'"
Colin won't be the only new type of supernatural creature joining the series, either. According to Clement, "We have one other one that is specific to this show coming up. And then probably some other ones that you're more familiar with."
"If you watch the show, you're going to be very satisfied," added Simms.
As for whether Waititi's and Clement's characters from the original film will show up, the distance between New Zealand and Staten Island poses a problem — but not an impossible one. Vladislav and Viago could show up, but "only if something really disastrous happens," Clement said. "It has to be of incredible import."
Fans of the movie will likely be thrilled with the series, and one can only hope that the two other projects in development — a sequel film about a group of werewolves from the original movie that is currently titled We're Wolves and the New Zealand spin-off series, Wellington Paranormal, which focuses on the bumbling cops Karen and Mike who appeared in the movie - will be equally charming and result in a true What We Do in the Shadows extended universe.
"We're creating a universe to rival that of Marvel and DC," joked Waititi. "But what we're doing is taking one idea and stretching it out over years and years."
What We Do in the Shadows is expected to premiere in spring 2019 on FX.