Monday, October 03, 2022

Reginald the Vampire, on Syfy

Apparently, vampires aren’t so woke after all, since they happen to be such nasty fat-shamers. If you don’t have six-pack abs, you’re not getting turned. Reginald Andres is the exception. His sire did not plan on turning him, but it was the only way to save the nebbish Andres in executive producer-showrunner Harley Peyton’s Reginald the Vampire, which premieres Wednesday on Syfy.

Andres is a nice guy, but he never had a chance to fulfill his potential. Stuck working at the Slushy Shack, he carries a torch for his co-worker Sarah Kinney, but he lacks the confidence to recognize she kind of likes him too. However, Maurice Miller can see it.

Having just arrived in Akron, the vampire has already become a regular at the Slushy Shack (these vamps can still consume regular human food). Since he is a cool vampire, Miller “glamours” Andres to ask out Kinney. When she says yes, he agrees to tutor the now fully cognizant and somewhat panicked Andres for his big date. Unfortunately, that is why Andres happened to be with Miller when vampire enforcers from Angela Hibbert (the local vampire queen bee) came to deliver a violent message. They couldn’t resist feasting on Andres, so Miller offers him a choice (after the resulting carnage). Die and stay dead or die a few seconds earlier and come back reborn.

Of course, it is not quite that simple. The vampire Reggie is locked into his old schlubby human body, which definitely makes him an outlier among vampires. In fact, they consider him a freak that should be eliminated, especially Hibbert, who was originally Miller’s sire, but is now his deadly rival.

There is a lot of vampire intrigue in
Reginald, but it is the characters that really wear so well over the course of the first five episodes. Arguably, Peyton’s adaptation of Johnny B. Truant’s novels perfects the balance between fannish humor and vampire peril better than just about any film or series since Buffy and Angel.

Jacob Batalan (Ned Leeds in the
Spider-Man movies) portrays Andres as a genuinely likeable loser, while Mandela Van Peebles is super-cool and smooth as Miller. Frankly, the latter looks so much like his father in his younger days, the show almost makes us wonder if Mario Van Peebles might be a vampire masquerading as his own son. Em Haine is sweet and quirkily off-center enough to be a good match for Andres, but never to an annoying extent.

Savannah Basley has a fabulously vampy femme fatale thing going on, which makes her a worthy antagonist for Andres and Miller. Even Ryan Jinn and Aren Buchholtz manage to evolve and surprise viewers, as Andres’ bullying boss and Miller’s ambiguous vampire companion. There is real blood-sucking in the show, but the characters and their relationships are what will hook viewers in.

Back in the day, Miller and Hibbert were part of the Black Panthers, but their radical past is well behind both of them. In some ways, their blood-sucking serves an indictment of their militancy, since the one flowed so logically from the other. Regardless, this is a fun show, featuring several characters that are pleasant to spend time with. Recommended for vampire fans (even more than
Interview with the Vampire), Reginald the Vampire premieres Wednesday (10/5) on Syfy.