A year ago, vampires, werewolves, and zombies descended on the San Fernando Valley, and it’s up to the UTF, the Undead Task Force, to make sure they don’t take over. While they do their best to keep “The Valley” safe, a camera crew does their best to document their exploits without getting killed themselves.
The San Fernando Valley, or “The Valley” as pretentious asshats like to call it, is known for many things. Its beautiful and spacious parks, its many arts and entertainment contributions, its homes for the rich and famous, and porn, lots and lots of porn. At one time in its history, anywhere between seventy and ninety percent of all the porn made in America was made in the San Fernando Valley. That includes zombie porn. Back in the 70’s, zombie porn was kind of a big deal, it was all underground stuff of course, but it was a big deal none the less with a huge fan base that included celebrities, porn aficionados, and everyday Joes and Janes. I was only a speck in my daddy’s eye as the old timers say, but I’ve heard enough stories about it to last a life time. Not to mention the video graphic evidence you can still purchase, or download online. You’ve probably seen some it already and thought it was fake, most likely hoped it was fake, but nope, that stuff is one hundred percent real. It’s pretty hot too you have to admit, zombies being able to do things with their bodies that the living could only dream of doing. I bet you’re wee bit curious about how that works considering that the undead don’t exactly have blood flowing to our lower extremities. Well, I’ll tell you, it works very well thank you very much. Dwell on that for the rest of the night.
Death Valley begins a year after the San Fernando Valley witnessed the beginning of a very unusual invasion, one that saw an influx of vampires, werewolves, and zombies stream their way in among the more human population. The werewolves aren’t too much a problem as long as they keep themselves chained up during the full moon. They’re just poor souls with a curse that turns them into savage beasts whenever the moon is full. Many of them live very normal lives most of the time, taking great care to lock themselves away during the times when they could be dangerous to others. They’re more or less just like any other person, if said person happened to sprout sharp claws, large teeth, and a lot of hair at least once every month. The zombies are a much bigger problem, one bite from them can turn a person into another zombie in a matter of minutes unless their brain is destroyed. Once a person becomes a zombie, their only goal is to search out and devour the flesh of the living, either killing others or turning them into more zombies. Zombies have become a major issue for the San Fernando Valley, wandering the streets and attacking anyone they come across. The biggest problem though are the vampires. Smart, fast, and incredibly strong, they have taken over the crimes that were once the domain of human gangs. They control not only the drug trade, but prostitution as well with their sex for blood scheme, basically trading sexual favors for pints of blood. They are the most vicious and deadly of all the creatures plaguing the San Fernando Valley. There is one group that stands against all of them though, acting as a barrier between the undead and the civilian population, the members of the Undead Task Force, an entity created to police the vampires, keep tabs on the werewolves, and destroy the zombies. They are on the streets night and day protecting the people from a menace no one even believed existed only one year ago, but bigger things are brewing behind the scenes, and while the UTF do their best to deal with the ever spiraling situation, the vampires are getting ready to enact a plan that might put them on the top of the food chain. It will take all the UTF’s resources to uncover the deeper threat and keep “The Valley” safe from creatures intent on destroying them. All the while, a camera crew trails the Undead Task Force to capture the struggles they face, hoping to show the world what the UTF is facing and not die in the process.
I should get one thing out of the way first and foremost, the deeper threat that Death Valley spends twelve episodes setting up is never fully fleshed out because the show was cancelled after only one season. It’s not that it was intended not to finish up, or that it went nowhere, the show simply ended before they could get where they were going. Death Valley had begun hinting at a larger, overall story involving the vampires having some kind of nefarious plan early on near the very beginning, and it started to get very intriguing towards the end when you could just see the edges of what the vampires really wanted, or at least a faction within their group as the vampires appeared to be splitting along a line. On one side were those that wanted peace with the human population of the San Fernando Valley, on the other side, those that only wanted power for themselves. A major player in the vampire circle had been killed, how deep the vampires had managed to integrate themselves into society was revealed, and finally they made their first strike in what seemed to be the start a war between the living and the dead. The zombies were even shown to have a connection with the vamps, the werewolves just kind of stuck in the middle of a conflict they wanted nothing to do with. It was exciting to say the least. The season finale left off with a major cliffhanger that left everyone’s fate in the balance and introduced a new player that no one saw coming. Then nothing. All that build up, all those expectations, all that excitement, and then nothing, the season finale cliffhanger left hanging to never be resolved.
It was beyond disappointing after getting so into the show, especially considering how enjoyable I found Death Valley to be with its interesting premise of a city where people just kind of had no choice but to learn to deal with monsters. There are ad campaigns from the city about the best ways to deal with the undead, pamphlets that teach citizens about how to handle themselves around any of the undead creatures they might come across, and most of the population acts as if seeing a zombie or a vampire is no different than seeing any other type of criminal. That’s not to say that everyone is okay with what’s happening, they’ve simply learned to cope with it. Everyone is terrified when coming across a creature of the night, but they don’t want to leave their homes nor will they be driven away. These people have had no other choice but to get used to their new neighbors so to speak. We never get to see when the undead first started showing up, the only thing we ever see are a few news snippets of news from when it started, so there’s no telling what people’s initial reactions were, but by the time of our introduction to the world of Death Valley, people have adjusted, some even becoming quite desensitized to it all. I would have liked to have seen how it was, but it wasn’t necessary for the show. It made for such an interesting story and a world I wanted to know more about. I loved seeing all the ways people coped with the situation, doing the best they could in a world that had been upended by the appearance of not just one type of monster that was supposed to be fictional but three. Something that had been so abnormal had now been accepted as the new normal simply because no one had any choice. It was either that or move away, and people weren’t willing to leave their home. The werewolves were perhaps the greatest example in that many of them are completely nonchalant about the whole thing, almost as if they had any other kind of disease they needed to monitor. They even joke around about it like it’s no big deal when the UTF come to make sure that registered werewolves are taking all the proper precautions. The werewolves aren’t the only example of how normal things have become in a city where things are far from normal. Teenagers run around getting their rebellious fun by taunting zombies, women go to vampire “GBGB” parties, the acronym standing for “Get Blood Get Buzzed,” where they give a little bit of blood to receive a black kiss that gets them high, and a COPS like reality show where cameramen follow the Undead Task Force around as they kill zombies, perform werewolf inspections, and try and keep tabs on the various vampire crime rings is a completely acceptable type of show no different than Dancing with the Stars or Biggest Loser.
That was another aspect that I loved about Death Valley, the way the whole show is presented as a reality program with cameramen filming the exploits of San Fernando’s most infamous police force. Think of it like COPS, just with the undead instead of human criminals. That’s pretty much how the undead are presented, as criminals. They arrest werewolves or vampires for things like theft, drug possession, or prostitution just as they would any other criminal. It gave the show a fun feeling like you were watching an actual reality program. There are times where things happen that couldn’t possibly have been filmed by the cameramen, so you do have to suspend disbelief a bit, but I never found that it hurt the show or made the show any less enjoyable. In fact it was quite the opposite, it made the show all that much more enjoyable because on top of seeing these people at work you got see some of the more private aspects of their lives, and having more things that were able to happen off camera allowed the show’s overall story to progress further than would have been possible otherwise. What did hurt the show was the channel it was on, MTV. I don’t think the typical MTV viewer is able to comprehend much beyond Teen Mom or Teen Mom 2 or Teen Moms Then and Now or whatever other exploitative reality show MTV has, I don’t really watch much MTV. Death Valley was an extremely well written show with a lot of humor that MTV’s typical audience wouldn’t appreciate, the network’s shows generally aiming for a rather brainless audience. Not only was it a mistake to put it on MTV because of the type that normally watches that channel, but most people who would have loved the show wouldn’t have tuned in after hearing it was going to be on MTV, myself included. I had heard about the show and it sounded interesting, but when I heard it was going to be on MTV, I kind of tuned out, not really wanting to waste my time on a show I was sure wouldn’t be to my liking. Had it been on any other network I would have given it a shot while it was on the air, but finding out it was going to be on MTV made me not care so much.
It was a real shame this wasn’t on a better network because I think it could have gone the distance and lasted several seasons otherwise. The reason being is the characters that are on it. All of them are extremely likable, and you will almost immediately fall for all of them, even the sound and camera people that are filming them, the ones that survive anyhow. The characters were extremely well written and extremely well played. They did an excellent job picking out just the right actors to play each character, and it turned out perfectly. Everyone seemed to fit just right into their part. Texas Battle, yes that’s his real name, played Officer John John, a ladies man with a particular love of using his baseball bat on the undead instead of his gun, preferring to crack open their skulls than put a bullet in them. Bryce Johnson plays the sarcastic and hilarious Officer Billy Pierce. Billy and his partner Stubeck, played by Charlie Sanders, were my favorite characters. They went together so well I could have seen them as actually being partners in real life. They had a great chemistry between each other. Tania Raymonde plays Officer Carla Rinaldi, John John’s partner who tended to keep herself very closed off but started to open up as the show went on. Caity Lotz, who most recently played The Canary on Arrow, plays Officer Kirsten Landry, the newest recruit to the UTF who has a strong desire to prove herself to the rest of the officers. Finally there was the head of the UTF, Captain Dashell, played by the always hilarious Bryan Callen. Their captain does his best to help out his team in any way he can but doesn’t realize that the things he says often leave them feeling extremely uncomfortable and awkward, at least to them, to the viewer it’s hilarious. Each one of them did an amazing job and made the show as great as it was. I could have easily seen them being a real team that had been working together in threatening situations for a year. I would have liked to have seen how they continued working together.
Death Valley was a great show that should have continued on but was sadly cancelled. The humor was excellent, the characters were amazing, and the effects were top notch. They weren’t afraid to show some serious and disgusting gore that all looked great, and Death Valley did not mind going to some extremes when it came to people being killed. You can expect to see a lot of blood. This was one of the better comedies I’ve seen, and I wish it had not been canceled. I’d recommend giving it a watch if you get the chance. Just understand that it does end on a huge cliffhanger, and since it was cancelled that cliffhanger was never resolved. Still worth the watch in my opinion, but the ending sucks every time I see it.
The Undead Review
Created By: Spider One (Former Lead Singer of Powerman 5000)
Written By: Spider One, Curtis Gwinn (Filthy Sexy Teen$), and Eric Weinberg
Starring: Texas Battle (The Bold and the Beautiful, The Task), Bryce Johnson (Lucidia, Doctor Strange), Tania Raymonde (Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3D, Chillerama), Charlie Sanders (Awful Nice, The Big Dog), Caity Lotz (Arrow, The Pact), Bryan Callen (MAD TV, Poolboy: Drowning Out the Fury)
Released By: Liquid Theory and MTV
Release Year: 2011
Number of Seasons: 1
TV Rating: TV14
Rotten Heads: Four and a Half Heads Out of Five