DVD review: “Wellington Paranormal” (2018 – 2022) 

“Wellington Paranormal” (2018-2022) 

Television

Twenty-Four Episodes

Developed by: Taika Waititi, Jemaine Clement and Paul Yates

Featuring: Mike Minogue, Karen O’Leary and Maaka Pohatu

Officer Minogue: “You’re always saying ‘don’t tase stuff’.”

Released on DVD recently is the horror/comedy television series “Wellington Paranormal” (2018 – 2022) from the minds of Taika Waititi, Jemaine Clement and Paul Yates. The series is a spin-off of the 2014 film “What We Do in the Shadows” (2014) and first television series in the franchise, and its lead characters—Officers Minogue and O’Leary—first appeared in the film as a pair of incurious police officers.

It’s curious to think that the movie “What We Do in the Shadows” could have spawned not one but two television series that are all quite alike in subject as well as tone. Not only that but the style of the movie which was semi unique and owed much to Christopher Guest and his compatriots would be able to keep audiences interested which is has for the past four years or so.

 “Wellington Paranormal”, like say “The X-Files” (1993-2018), is built around the two police officers from the aforementioned movie, but unlike Mulder and Scully they were not memorable much at all, in fact you may have even forgotten about them once the movies was over. In its note-perfect emulation of the feature’s dryness, however, there are a lot of very real laughs, as well as enough supernatural ridiculousness that if you have general reservations about law enforcement comedy, they won’t stick around for long.

The series stars Mike Minogue and Karen O’Leary as officers Minogue and O’Leary of the Wellington police department. In the first episode, they encounter a young woman projectile vomiting and claiming to be inhabited by the demon Bazu’aal. Naturally, Minogue and O’Leary arrest her for public intoxication and they’re oddly unfazed when she starts spider-walking up walls and escapes the precinct. It’s here that Sergeant Ruawai Maaka (Maaka Pohatu) takes Minogue and O’Leary behind the comically secretive doors of the police department’s Paranormal Unit. The core joke of the series is that Wellington is a city with only limited crime, but nearly unlimited oddness, so much of which is human in nature that nobody exactly freaks out when blood bags go missing from the local hospital, a cow ends up in a tree or a pizza delivery man is robbed by what he identifies as a dog wearing jeans.

Of course “Wellington Paranormal” is shot in a new style, documentary like method, it looks and feels quite cheap, like an episode of “Cops” but even more basic looking. I can assume this was done for the mis-en-scene but also to limit the budget to keep it as profitable as possible. It is also adds an air of authenticity to a series that is mostly ridiculous as well as attempting to keep it as serious within the genre as possible. The characters are only ever seen at work so as an audience we never learn anything really that personal and this coupled with the standalone nature of each episode makes it a tight twenty minute watch, which is a positive as it is a fairly easy watch.

Like much of Taika Waititi’s work he operates on laughs to undercut almost anything else and if you are viewing this at a later date some of the jokes can feel weirdly out of date, so that may be a negative. Also the characters are a little one note, again something often found in the creators work.

Episodes

Series One

Demon Girl: Officers Minogue and O’Leary bring in what appears to be a projectile-vomiting drunk teenager. Sergeant Maaka delves deeper and invites the officers to join his Paranormal Unit.

Cop Circles: Sergeant Maaka sends Officers Minogue and O’Leary to investigate the report of a cow stranded on top of a tree at a remote farm. Maaka believes that aliens did it, but Minogue and O’Leary are skeptical – until they meet the farm’s owner.

Ghost: Sergeant Maaka assists Officers Minogue and O’Leary as they investigate an abandoned house haunted by a group of ghosts straight out of the 1970s, and some of them love to party.

She-Wolf: Officers Minogue and O’Leary must protect a dazed and confused woman from what may or may not be a werewolf. They realize too late that the monster is closer than they think – and it’s in heat.

Vampire: Over the course of a single night, Officers Minogue and O’Leary encounter a series of incidents including a suspicious plastic bag, a gang of creepy clowns, a human sacrifice ritual, and a theft from the hospital blood bank.

Zombie Cops: Fellow officers Donovan and Laupepe become infected by a zombie. Minogue and O’Leary must catch them before they get to Courtenay Place on a Friday night and start the zombie apocalypse.

Series Two

Taniwha: Minogue and O’Leary head for the ocean when ten anglers disappear from around Wellington Harbour in mysterious circumstances.

Fear the Briannas: Minogue and O’Leary go to a local girls’ high school, where three teen witches start threatening students.

Mt Vic Hooters: Minogue and O’Leary unwittingly free the ghost of a cop from the 1930s, and he’s out to shut down pubs for being open past 6.oo pm.

Copy Cops: The discovery of a dead policeman that looks exactly like Minogue leads the cops to a creepy motel.

The Haunting of the ’85 Nissan 300ZX ZR Turbo: Minogue and O’Leary pull over a driverless 80s boy racer car only to discover it’s haunted by the original owner.

Robots: All of the out of date phones start forming into robots and terrorizing the neighbourhood. Game of snake anyone?

Christmas Special: In this spooky festive special, Minogue and O’Leary attend to a number of different paranormal events on a busy Christmas Eve patrol.

Series Three

The Invisible Fiend: Minogue and O’Leary go after a monstrous invisible force.

Te Maero: After finding footage of a camper being abducted by a large hairy creature, the cops decide to head for the bush. Sarge believes it to be a Maero or Sasquatch-type creature from Maori mythology.

Fear Factory: While out on patrol, Minogue and O’Leary encounter a series of people who’ve been attacked by their worst nightmares. All the victims were at the same scary amusement house. The Fear Factory.

The Sevens Ghosts: Minogue and O’Leary go searching for a group of ghostly rugby fans dressed as Where’s Wally, but why are they abducting people dressed the same as them?

The Revengers: A Meteor strike gives super powers to a Neighbourhood Watch group, who soon decide to take the law into their own hands. It’s now up to Minogue and O’Leary to take the law back.

Fatberg: When a large, congealed blob of fat in the Wellington sewers becomes sentient, Minogue and O’Leary go underground to confront the monster.

Series Four

Bird Woman: Minogue and O’Leary tackle a half-bird, half-human that’s been stealing shiny objects from around Wellington, including the ‘W’ from the Wellington sign.

The Wicked Man: When a not-so-young ‘girl’ goes missing, O’Leary and Minogue search for her on the mysterious Sales Island run by a weird, goat-worshipping cult.

The Coolening: After giving a talk at a high school, Minogue and O’Leary confiscate a haunted leather jacket that makes whoever wears it cool – something neither Minogue nor O’Leary are used to.

Skeleton Crew: When workmen disturb a Pakeha burial ground underneath the police station, an annoying old Caucasian ghost possesses Sarge, who then menaces his own officers.

Who the Hell: On a typical night patrol, Minogue and O’Leary get to the bottom of a series of mysterious curses while Officer Parker gets a new partner.

Time Cop: Not the Jean-Claude Van Damme One: Minogue and O’Leary go back in time to the 90s but on returning, discover they’ve created an apocalyptic new timeline where Sarge was never a cop.

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