Back in 2014, we were introduced to an eccentric group of vampires cohabitating in Wellington, New Zealand. Since then, Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi’s cult classic mockumentary What We Do in the Shadows has successfully spawned two spinoff series: the first, of the same name, premiered in the U.S. on FX in 2019 and took place on Long Island; now Wellington Paranormal, set and previously released in the creators’ home of New Zealand, is finally arriving in the States later this month. Fleshing out the rest of Wellington’s supernatural scene, Wellington Paranormal is a subtle, fun, and occasionally fairly gross addition to the What We Do in the Shadows world.
Originally released in 2018, Wellington Paranormal is a familiarly styled mockumentary series that follows two of the bumbling cops featured in the film. Minogue and O’Leary (Mike Minogue and Karen O’Leary) are recruited by Sgt. Maaka (Maaka Pohatu) to join the Wellington Police Department’s secret paranormal investigation unit. The two dim-witted cops then encounter a variety of other-worldly beings in the show’s very passable first season.
Not nearly as laugh-out-loud funny as other installments, Wellington Paranormal is still sure to win the hearts of seasoned fans of Clement and Waititi’s quiet brand of comedy. Minogue and O’Leary are an off-beat Scully and Mulder, even directly making the comparison themselves in one of the season’s funnier bits. The two Kiwi detectives set out on monster-of-the-week adventures, responding to reports of ghosts, carnivorous corn-based aliens, werewolves, and demon-possessed dogs. Oh, and vampires, of course. (What We Do in the Shadows star Cori Gonzalez-Macuer even makes a reappearance as Nick, a recently transformed vampire with a chaotic streak.)
Wellington Paranormal is well-crafted horror-comedy, using unique practical effects and prostheses to successfully create the monsters terrorizing the city. From both a writing and acting standpoint, the mockumentary style is expertly employed, often allowing jokes to play out behind our clueless cops. Despite some minor pitfalls in terms of stretching jokes too far, the three lead actors are the perfect level of endearingly oblivious, carrying the series’ few subpar bits to humorous ends anyway.
Varying in quality by episode, Wellington Paranormal takes a minute or two to find its footing. But considering the strength of the other supernatural ventures from the What We Do in the Shadows team, it’s worth giving it the benefit of the doubt—by the end of the season, it’s clear there’s enough good to outweigh the middling quality of its weaker moments.
In its home country of New Zealand, Wellington Paranormal just completed its third season earlier this year. Until now, the series has been unavailable to American audiences, but Season 1 will premiere July 11 on The CW. The 6-episode season will be released weekly, with episodes also available to stream on HBO Max the next day. According to Jemaine Clement’s Twitter, all 12 episodes of Seasons 1 and 2 will be released this way, and after just a taste of his and Waititi’s most quintessentially Kiwi series, we’re bloodthirsty for more.
Wellington Paranormal premieres Sunday, July 11 on The CW, with episodes streaming on HBO Max the next day.
Kristen Reid is a culture writer and TV intern for Paste Magazine. She’s been known to spend too much time rewatching her favorite sitcoms, yelling at her friends to watch more TV, and falling in love with fictional characters. You can follow her on Twitter @kreidd for late-night thoughts on whatever she’s bingeing now.
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