Hey, everyone. RobBarracuda here, and the time is finally upon us: Adult Swim’s premiere of the new miniseries Neon Joe, Werewolf Hunter. The newest series from the infamous PFFR production company (Xavier: Renegade Angel, The Heart She Holler, etc.) has made its way to television, where it will be airing all week. So with that out of the way, let’s take a look at episode 1, “Made Ya Look”.
The episode opens on a cold night in the city of Garrity, Vermont: “B&B Town USA!” We see a special guest show up at one particular B&B: actor Paul Rudd, who’s looking for a break from his usual celebrity duties. After explaining this to someone on the phone, he hangs up and looks around at his settings, taking note of the full moon. Before he can make his way inside the B&B, an unseen creature lays its eyes on Paul Rudd, and it proceeds to murder him in the dead of night. It’s worth noting this whole scene is a not-so-subtle nod to the PFFR/Adult Swim series Delocated, which also starred Jon Glaser and had Paul Rudd getting killed in the first episode.
A town meeting is held the next day, where the mayor of Garrity (played by Stephanie March; Alexandra Cabot from Law & Order: SVU) tries to assure everyone that the attack on Paul Rudd was just a random accident. The townsfolk begin panicking over rumors that his death was caused by a werewolf attack, but the mayor believes it’s just a rumor spread by the town drunk. Said drunk, the owner of the B&B Paul was supposed to stay at, assures everyone that the werewolf attack was real, but the town sheriff Dalton (Steve Cirbus, one of the assassins from Delocated) tries to calm everyone down. However, the townsfolk are still concerned, especially over the possibility of having to temporarily close down local businesses, but they’re interrupted by the sound of nails on a chalkboard. The man causing the noise? Who else but our titular character, Neon Joe (played by Jon Glaser). He introduces himself to the townsfolk and assures them that he will look into the potential werewolf killings… if the mayor’s willing to pay him 75 grand, to which she begrudgingly says she’ll “consider” it.
After the meeting, Sheriff Dalton meets up with the mayor at her office where he suggests either imposing a curfew on the town so the police can investigate the murders or hiring Neon Joe. The mayor isn’t too satisfied with either of these options, even going so far as to threaten taking money out of Dalton’s pay to meet Neon Joe’s demands. She does, however, allow Dalton to go out on all-night patrols around the town.
Later that night, the mayor (whose name is revealed as Carol) is at home preparing for a romantic dinner with her girlfriend/current lover, and Carol stares up at the moon suspiciously before turning on what looks like a police radio. While this is happening, Dalton is out on patrol with his partner Gary, and Gary pulls up to stop a group of hackysack-playing kids, but they manage to convince him to play for a bit. However, their game is interrupted by the presence of a werewolf, who proceeds to attack the group.
The next day, we see that one of the kids, named Matt, is comatose in a hospital, but still technically alive (and as we learn from the doctor, the only one who survived the attack). His mother Susan and his girlfriend Georgia are present, shocked at what happened to him. Susan is pulled from the room due to her hysteria over what’s happened, leaving Georgia alone with the doctor who makes a rather unusual suggestion: he tells Georgia that sex with Matt might be able to bring him out of his coma, and she agrees to it.
Dalton is investigating the scene of the crime when Neon Joe shows up, wanting to help but being unable to because the mayor would not allow it. However, Carol suddenly appears and offers him a check for $75,000 to investigate the murder.
The town is gathered at a funeral for the victims of the recent werewolf attack, and Susan goes up to say a couple of words. She’s not coping particularly well with Matt’s death, as she assumes Matt’s identity and attempts to impersonate his attitude and mannerisms.
Another townsperson named Cleve offers some condolences, even offering to perform neighborhood watch duties to avenge Matt, but Neon Joe shows up to interrupt the proceedings. He shows off a baggie of werewolf pubic hair samples he grabbed from the crime scene, and he asks the entire town to give him their pubes so he can test for who is and isn’t a werewolf. He leaves the funeral as Matt’s coffin is lowered into the ground.
After the funeral, Neon Joe shows up at the bar to collect pubic hair samples. The bar owner, Sunny Cocoa (played by Scott Adsit), gladly rips out some pubes on the spot to hand over to Joe. Cleve also shows up to give some pubic hair to Joe before leaving. As Joe exits the bar, Sunny grabs a weird microphone-esque device and screams a jarring monster noise into it.
Over at Matt’s house, Georgia confesses to Susan that she’s pregnant with the real Matt’s baby; it was a “coma conception”, as she puts it. Susan is overjoyed by this, but Georgia is unnerved by both the pregnancy and Susan’s role-playing, trying to nudge her back to reality and to stop with the whole “pretending to be Matt” shtick.
At the B&B where Paul Rudd died, Neon Joe is looking to collect pubic hair samples from Dave, the owner, but he reveals that he lasered off his own pubes just that morning, which Joe sees as suspiciously convenient timing. Dave then asks if Joe’s collected any pubes from Matt, considering he was the victim of a werewolf attack. Meanwhile, Sunny visits Garrity’s Chinatown to obtain some werewolf pubes and urine for his own uses.
Back at the hospital, Joe prepares to acquire pubes from Matt, when the doctor lifts up a blanket and reveals werewolf scratch marks on Matt’s leg. Susan and Georgia are summoned to the hospital, where Matt is tied up in the bed by Joe. He performs an experiment with a flashlight that is designed to project artificial moonlight, and he confirms that Matt is now a werewolf. He then lays his eyes on Georgia, realizing that she’s most likely pregnant with a werewolf child. Susan and Joe argue about what to do with the child before the doctor kicks them out, proceeding to utter monstrous noises into a microphone similar to what Sunny did earlier. Outside of the room, Joe suggests that the fate of the baby should be settled by a drag race between Susan and himself. The two go out to a lonely stretch of road to race, with Joe coming out as the clear winner, and after they finish, the two turn around and notice that Georgia has disappeared.
Later that night, Sunny’s out in the woods naked, and he covers himself in the pubes and urine he acquired earlier. While roaming around, he nearly gets hit by a flaming arrow, which turns out to have come from Cleve, making good on his promise of trying to hunt werewolves himself. While this is happening, Neon Joe is analyzing the various pubic hair samples, confirming the presence of werewolf DNA in at least one set of pubes, when Dalton shows up with an apparent suicide note from Georgia. The two argue for a bit since Joe jokes around about Georgia flirting with him in the suicide note, and he also tricks Dalton into looking at his butt crack. As we can see, Joe may not be taking this as seriously as he should be.
We then cut to a strange high-tech red room where Sunny is hiding, when he is suddenly approached by Carol and two others. Carol is disgusted by Sunny’s smell, but he argues that he did it to try and get Joe off their backs before he finds out “the truth”. She then proceeds to make the same monstrous noise we’ve heard twice before, and she assures him that Joe won’t find anything out as long as they all go about their normal business. She leaves the room to go be with her “current lover, and the episode ends with him watching a wall of surveillance camera feeds, fixating on one of Neon Joe clipping his nails in a B&B hotel room.
So the series is off to a rather interesting start with this first episode. The characters presented here feel right at home with PFFR’s other works, existing in the kind of world where every character, even the supposed “normal” ones, have bizarre personality quirks and manners of speech. The cast is so far really good at how they portray much of this bizarreness while still taking the premise of the show seriously, especially with the character of Sheriff Dalton, who’s as close to a straight-man as possible in this world while still having his own weird past. Of course the real star here is Jon Glaser as Neon Joe, and he’s wickedly funny in the role as a man who takes his werewolf-hunting job seriously, while also being just unserious enough to fuck around with the various citizens of Garrity for his own amusement. While all this is happening, we also get some obvious nods to the idea that all is not as it seems in this quiet little town. The series sets itself up as one of those “small town with dark secrets” narratives like Twin Peaks or Wayward Pines, where the “normal” people have something to hide, and the supposedly bizarre outsider might be the most normal of everyone featured. While werewolves are proven to exist in this world, there may be more to their presence than we know, as the monstrous screams uttered by various townsfolk sound more alien than anything else. Heck, the werewolf attacks are presented from the werewolf’s POV, and their view seems to be the same kind of distorted infrared vision as the titular character of the Arnold Schwarzenegger classic Predator. I would not be surprised if some other outside force besides werewolves becomes an important factor in all of this. A good way to start this miniseries, and I can’t wait to see how it continues in episode 2.