Out of this world TV: Sci-fi meets comedy in 'Resident Alien'

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Dana Simpson / TV Media
Alan Tudyk in "Resident Alien"

Alan Tudyk in "Resident Alien"

When the SyFy series "Resident Alien" first landed on the network in early 2021, it, like its main character, was unlike anything viewers had ever seen before. Now partway into its second season, the out-of-this-world dramedy continues Wednesday, Aug. 10, following a five-month hiatus.

Starring voice and comedy actor Alan Tudyk ("Firefly") in the leading role, "Resident Alien" follows an alien — whose real name is largely unpronounceable due to a complicated series of clicks and whistles — after he crash-lands on Earth. Caught off guard while searching the Colorado mountainside for his lost space vessel, the alien winds up assuming the body of one Dr. Harry Vanderspeigel, a physician who lives part time in a lakeside cottage in the small, nearby town of Patience.

As the show's pilot progresses, the alien/Harry, who has so far managed to fly under the town's radar for four months due to the real Harry's seasonal visitor status, becomes pulled into a sinister murder case when Patience Sheriff Mike "Big Black" Thompson (Corey Reynolds, "The Closer") and his deputy, Liv Baker (Elizabeth Bowen, "Upload"), ask for his help in a medical capacity. While the human Harry is dead and no longer has control over any aspect of his corporeal form, alien Harry agrees to help and immediately becomes interested in the gruesome details of the crime.

While part of this interest could be based in the alien's sinister interests and overall lack of humanity, it seems more likely that his interest in the murder stems from his favorite human pastime: watching "Law & Order" to learn English.

Having modeled himself after the show's lead, played by Jerry Orbach ("Dirty Dancing," 1987), alien Harry learns to assimilate into Colorado culture by "becoming human" to the best of his ability — his alien form still sneaks through occasionally, though he does well to ensure he always appears as Harry when in the presence of other humans.

As the sci-fi dramedy continues across its premiere season's 10 episodes, viewers learn many of the intricacies behind the alien living among the residents of Patience, Colorado. From his complete lack of understanding when it comes to basic human functions — think emotion and social convention — to the details of the mission that accidentally landed him on Earth, Harry's alien side slowly begins to reveal itself to the audience. (That said, most of the humans in his immediate vicinity have yet to figure out his true identity.)

One person who does gain insight into his secret over the course of time is Asta (Sara Tomko, "Once Upon a Time"), the nurse Harry meets in the pilot. As the two become closer the longer Harry stays in town, Asta becomes privy to his secret and is soon the one person who can protect the alien from the dangers around him. After visiting an alien convention together in the series' ninth episode and solving the murder set up in the first episode, Asta and Harry resolve to send him back to his home planet by any means necessary.

Elizabeth Bowen and Corey Reynolds in "Resident Alien"

Elizabeth Bowen and Corey Reynolds in "Resident Alien"

Unfortunately, things don't go as planned, and Season 2 begins with Harry back on Earth, this time without any memory of who he is and relying on Asta to fill in the blanks.

Amid poker games, girls' nights, bomb building and a trip to New York to find one of his own, Harry grows more human with each and every adventure. In fact, by the time Season 2 went on break in March, the alien doctor even had a surprise party held in his honor — though, of course, it wasn't without its own oddities and setbacks.

Upon its Aug. 10 return, "Resident Alien" fans can expect more high jinks and surprises, spanning everything from more dead bodies to a whole new alien species that has touched down in Patience (move over, Roswell!). Series creator Chris Sheridan ("Family Guy") also shed some light on the final eight episodes of Season 2 in an interview with Parade back in March.

"There's so much happening in the second half of Season 2," Sheridan teased. "Terry O'Quinn ["Lost"] will be back as the Alien Tracker, this time tracking an alien in Patience — two guesses who that is. The mystery of why Sam Hodges [Jan Bos, "When Calls the Heart"] was murdered will finally be solved."

In the same interview, Sheridan later added that when Season 2 returns, "Harry is searching for the alien baby ... so he can get the rest of the message and find out information about the alien race on Earth. Of course, Harry does have human emotions now, so when he does find the baby, it's possible it won't be as easy as he thinks."

In truth, it seems nothing is as easy for the alien as he ever thinks it will be. Though perhaps that naïveté is a part of his endearing, child-like charm — even if it's also one of the (many) things that frequently gets him into trouble.

Tune in to the newest episode of "Resident Alien" when it returns to SyFy after five months off the air. It all begins Wednesday, Aug. 10, with subsequent episodes airing weekly until its finale (estimated as of writing to be Oct. 12).