Night stalkers: 'What We Do in the Shadows' hits prime time

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Kyla Brewer / TV Media
Kayvan Novak in a scene from "What We Do in the Shadows"

Kayvan Novak in a scene from "What We Do in the Shadows"

For many people, vampires evoke terrifying images of blood-thirsty supernatural creatures. However, a new comedy takes a lighter, more comical look at being a vampire and reveals how the bloodsuckers navigate the ups and downs of modern life.

Vampire roommates prepare for a visit from their ancient master in the premiere of "What We Do in the Shadows," airing Wednesday, March 27, on FX. Filmed in a "mockumentary" style, the 10-episode series follows the vampires as they invite a film crew to document their daily -- or rather, nightly -- lives in Staten Island, New York, From mundane moments like shopping to welcoming "guests" to their home, the subjects show viewers what it's like to be a vampire in today's world.

The show is based on the New Zealand film of the same name from Jemaine Clement ("Flight of the Conchords") and Taika Waititi ("Thor: Ragnarok," 2017), who starred in, wrote and directed the movie together. Since its release in 2014, the film version has become a cult hit and recently made its way to Netflix, reaching an even wider audience. A critical darling, the movie has earned a 96 percent approval rating on the popular review site Rotten Tomatoes, and has spawned the promotional short film "Vampire's Guide to Vellington," as well as the New Zealand television spinoff "Wellington Paranormal." Clement and Waititi are also reportedly working on a feature film sequel called "We're Wolves," which will focus on the group of werewolves led by Anton (Rhys Darby, "Flight of the Conchords") in the original film.

Although the premise of the new FX TV series is similar to the movie, it features a whole new group of vampires. Clement explained that the decision was a practical one at this year's Television Critics Association winter press tour.

"I've done it in the past -- writing a show that I'm in -- and it's really difficult," Clement said at a TCA event discussing the launch of the TV series.

In February, Clement was quoted by the L.A. Times' Chris Barton as saying: "I auditioned. I thought I wasn't good enough."

Those who were "good enough" bring the undead to life in the Big Apple in the FX series. Nandor (Kayvan Novak, "Fonejacker"), Laszlo (Matt Berry, "The IT Crowd") and Nadja (Natasia Demetriou, "Stath Lets Flats") have been roommates for hundreds of years, but that doesn't mean it's always smooth sailing for the trio. Once a great conquerer from the Ottoman Empire, Nandor is the self-proclaimed "leader" of the group, but his efforts to rein in his roomies often fall flat. Temptress Nadja often shares provocative tales of days gone by, while British vampire Laszlo is mischievous and loves to see Nandor fail.

Cameras also follow Nandor's "familiar," or servant, Guillermo (Harvey Guillén, "The Internship," 2013), who longs to be turned into a vampire like his master. He keeps an eye on the household during the daylight hours when the vampires are most vulnerable. "Day-walker" Colin Robinson (Mark Proksch, "The Office") is a completely different kind of vampire known as an "energy vampire," who sucks the energy out of people instead of sucking blood. Viewers will also get to know Nadja's new friend Jenna (Beanie Feldstein, "Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising," 2016), a student from a nearby community college who's suddenly developed a taste for the flesh of the living and doesn't understand why.

Mark Proksch as seen in "What We Do in the Shadows"

Mark Proksch as seen in "What We Do in the Shadows"

The cast also includes Doug Jones ("The Shape of Water," 2017), Jake McDorman ("Limitless") and Hayden Szeto ("Lodge 49").

As the series begins, Nadja, Laszlo and Nandor are reminded that they were sent to America more than 100 years ago on a mission to conquer the New World. However, the vampires are still a bit baffled as to how, exactly, they should do it.

While the trio may not have a handle on world domination, producers likely hope the show will at least dominate the ratings. Clement, who already has a North American fan base thanks to his work in the HBO comedy "Flight of the Conchords," weaves his quirky sense of humor throughout the FX series as one of the show's writers and directors. Waititi, who helmed the international Marvel megahit "Thor: Ragnarok" (2017), directed the "What We Do in the Shadows" TV pilot. The FX series is executive produced by Clement, Waititi and Paul Simms ("Atlanta"), alongside Scott Rudin ("No Country for Old Men," 2007), Garrett Basch ("The Night Of") and Eli Bush ("Lady Bird," 2017).

With a talented cast in front of the camera and a seasoned behind-the-scenes team, "What We Do in the Shadows" shows real promise, but it'll be tough to stand out in its cutthroat Wednesday night prime-time slot. The show is up against network television programs such as ABC's espionage actioner "Whiskey Cavalier," CBS's military drama "SEAL Team" and NBC's police procedural "Chicago P.D.," not to mention the many cable and specialty channel offerings competing for the affections of TV fans.

Luckily, combining the popular mockumentary style with the current craze for all things supernatural bodes well for the new FX series. Find out how Nadja, Nandor and Laszlo enjoy the nightlife in the new comedy "What We Do in the Shadows," premiering Wednesday, March 27, on FX.