Hit or Sh**: IFC’s STAN AGAINST EVIL
In this Crossfader series, our intricate and complex rating system will tell you definitively whether new television pilots are worth your valuable time. We call it: HIT OR SH**.
STAN AGAINST EVIL does not deserve a single second of anyone’s time. I would even go so far as to say that I do not feel entirely comfortable with your theoretical engagement with this article — it is that inconsequential and flaccid. As such, I will attempt to keep this as short as STAN’s bafflingly short 21-minute runtime, so that you can spend your time watching ASH VS. EVIL DEAD, or literally anything else on the face of this Earth.
Back when it was all the rage, the sheriff of Willard’s Mill, New Hampshire personally oversaw the demise of 172 witches. As such, everyone who holds the position of sheriff meets an extremely unpleasant end. Nobody seems too concerned about this until Stan (John C. McGinley)’s wife dies; apparently, she had been continually keeping Claire (Susan Williams), the evil witch of Willard’s Mill, from sending Stan to a much-deserved grave. Now Stan must team up with the new sheriff in town, Evie (Janet Varney), to defeat Claire before it’s too late.
Why couldn’t we just have a spin-off where Dr. Cox babysits J.D.’s kids?
Even if this premise weren’t hastily cobbled-together and better suited for anything other than an episodic “comedy,” Stan would still be impossible to root for. Did you enjoy Dr. Cox yelling at J.D. in increasingly creative ways on SCRUBS? Then you’ll be sure to hate Stan spewing tasteless misogyny, homophobia, and racism on what would seem to be a caustic hate crusade against each and every patron of Willard’s Mill. We’ve got it all folks: Step right up and chuckle as Stan calls arcane runes “ass-backward Mexican cha-cha talk”! Laugh along as Stan decides a long-form extended rant about Starsky and Hutch being gay is a good use of his time! Roll in the aisles as Stan tells Evie to go home, eat some salad, drink some wine, have her period, call her mother, and let the MAN (him) handle Claire! Never mind the fact that the whole reason Evie is introduced to the plot is because the show opens with Stan beating Claire to a pulp at his own wife’s funeral! What could be better than a double-whammy of sexist violence and elder abuse!
Honestly, that should really be all you need to stay away from this show, but even if the show showed no remorse in making it clear that Stan is always right, and that silly, stupid woman sheriff is wrong, there would be nothing here to grab your attention. The show’s length simply ensures that there will never be any believable conflicts or antagonists. Suggesting that each episode will deal with another agent of darkness sent to fulfill the deadly curse, I weep for a world that would even think of featuring another 171 episodes of this drivel. Tonally it’s similarly jarring, as it takes the already tenuous (in my opinion) atmosphere of EVIL DEAD and runs the lighter “comedy” beats through a Trump supporter generator. While I will admit to jumping every time Claire screeched onto screen, that’s only because STAN AGAINST EVIL indulges in the most primitive of jump scares, with no cultivation of suspense. There’s a mildly squeamish scene wherein Stan peels the skin off of Claire’s arm, but the rest of the body horror rips pages straight from the gross-out book of DRAG ME TO HELL.
The pinnacle of cinematic integrity
Apart from one scene that deserves at least a guffaw on your part (Stan returns home to hear a female voice creepily singing “Ring Around the Rosie,” only to discover that his daughter Denise is recreationally listening to it on her iPod), STAN AGAINST EVIL is made by no one, seemingly for no one. I don’t know why Dr. Cox decided that this was a good horse to bet on late in his TV career, and the pilot is so forgettable that I have no desire to even care. Don’t watch it.
STAN AGAINST EVIL airs on Wednesdays on IFC