The Bottom Line
- Premieres August 29, 2011, at 10:30 p.m. EST on MTV
- Stars Tania Raymonde, Bryan Callen, Caity Lotz, Bryce Johnson, Texas Battle, Charlie Sanders
- Created by Curtis Gwinn
But it’s hard to take this stuff seriously when the overall tone is so goofy. This isn’t a real horror movie (or even a horror TV series like The Walking Dead), so we know that none of the main characters is really in danger. There are various background characters who are prime fodder for getting bitten, eaten or dismembered, but their deaths don’t have any sort of impact. The opening sequence of each episode explains that the supernatural creatures descended on California’s San Fernando Valley a year ago, leaving scientists baffled about their origins, which is an easy way to get out of having to come up with any kind of coherent back story.
At the same time, Valley’s creators clearly don’t want the show to just be a goofy comedy that happens to feature the undead, so they drop little hints of a more elaborate story in the background. The most interesting element of the three episodes available for review features rookie Undead Task Force member Kirsten Landry (Caity Lotz) going undercover at teenage vampire parties and learning about the creatures’ culture from the other side. Those scenes have an effective little Buffy the Vampire Slayer vibe, but they’re easily overshadowed by the many scenes featuring the more experienced cops bumbling through their investigations of zombie infestations at doughnut shops and vampires knocking over blood mobiles.
There’s certainly enough ridiculousness in the horror and urban fantasy genres for a comedy series to parody, and there’s potential in a clever drama about investigators who take on the paranormal. But pairing the goofy comedy with the supernatural world-building takes a delicate balance, and Death Valley, with its juvenile humor and half-hearted plotting, doesn’t have the intelligence to pull it off.