Wellington Paranormal TV Review

Last Updated on July 30, 2021

PLOT: Sergeant Maaka and Officers Minogue and O'Leary are members of the Wellington, New Zealand, police. Their job is to investigate paranormal phenomena.

REVIEW: Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement's What We Do In The Shadows was a cult classic when it hit the big screen in 2014. When the FX spin-off premiered in 2019, I was hesitant that it could live up to the hilarious quality of the feature film. Two seasons in, the small screen version is every bit as hilarious thanks to the ensemble cast as well as the involvement from Waititi and Clement. Three years after originally premiering in New Zealand, the first Shadows spin-off, Wellington Paranormal, is finally hitting North American airwaves. While not as good as the film or FX series, Wellington Paranormal is a fun little distraction that works because of the deadpan delivery from the leads.

TV Review, The CW, What we do in the shadows, Wellington Paranormal, Supernatural, horror, comedy, Taika Waititi, Jemaine Clement

Wellington Paranormal follows Officer Kyle Minogue (Mike Minogue) and Officer O'Leary (Karen O'Leary), two minor characters from What We Do In The Shadows. Told in a mockumentary format that looks like the familiar COPS format, Minogue and O'Leary are drafted by Sergeant Maaka (Maaka Pohatu) to join the secret paranormal division of the Wellington Police Department. Consisting of the three of them, they investigate different supernatural occurrences each episode, with the first two centered on a demonic possession and crop circles.

With their lilting accents and serious delivery, the cast of Wellington Paranormal take the insane events in stride as if they are not completely bizarre. Much like O'Leary and Minogue's brief appearance in the feature film, their involvement with these supernatural events is handled with the same wit and humor that Waititi and Clement brought to the movie. Jemaine Clement directed the first two episodes of the season and co-wrote the premiere, which adds a consistent sense of humor to the production. What is noticeably absent as you watch this show is the production quality that a big-screen offering or even the FX series is able to achieve.

Made on what appears to be a limited budget, Wellington Paranormal is hampered in delivering special effects on par with even the average network production. Because it is filmed on video and looks like found footage, the crew put together a solid effort with what they have available. A hellfire fountain, a talking dog, and Exorcist-like vomit all look about equal to a decent YouTube video rather than what you would think a financed television series would command. But, this is not a show that is reliant on convincing CGI to be funny. Yes, the make-up effects are decent, but this series is never trying to be more than a funny show with some monsters and aliens thrown in for effect.

With the first two seasons completely aired and the third having just premiered, it remains to be seen how much of this series will air in North America in 2021. Each of the first seasons only consists of 6 episodes each with the third set to conclude airing in the coming month. There are also several shorts and COVID-themed public service announcements that are worth checking out. I was surprised to see this series airing on The CW as it is a very regionally-specific comedy and not the type of programming often found on the teen-skewing mini-network. Still, I am glad this show is getting some exposure that it may not have otherwise gotten.

TV Review, The CW, What we do in the shadows, Wellington Paranormal, Supernatural, horror, comedy, Taika Waititi, Jemaine Clement

While it may share a visual style with COPS and popular spoof Reno 911!, the comedy in Wellington Paranormal is very much in line with What We Do In The Shadows. This is a very funny little show and not one that you should expect to be more than a fun watch. Enough happens in each self-contained episode that you can enjoy the dry humor and bizarre stories. I routinely laughed throughout each episode and that is far more than most sitcoms get out of me. Wellington Paranormal is a very funny and well-written series that never relies on aping What We Do In The Shadows while still expanding the fictional universe of that shoiw.

Wellington Paranormal airs Sundays on The CW.

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About the Author

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Alex Maidy has been a JoBlo.com editor, columnist, and critic since 2012. A Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic and a member of Chicago Indie Critics, Alex has been JoBlo.com's primary TV critic and ran columns including Top Ten and The UnPopular Opinion. When not riling up fans with his hot takes, Alex is an avid reader and aspiring novelist.