Based on the 2003 short film of the same name, Todd & The Book Of Pure Evil debuted on Canada's Space Channel in September of 2010 and was picked up for broadcast in the United States by FearNet who started showing the series in August of 2011. While series' creator Craig David Wallace worked on the short film with Max Reid, for the TV version he teamed up with Charles Picco and Anthony Leo, more or less recasting the movie for the small screen version. The second season was aired a year later, and as of right now, it looks to be the final one.
For those unfamiliar with the series, it revolves around a dopey pot smoking teenage boy named Todd Smith (Alex House) who loves heavy metal and getting high. He hangs out with his awkward but well-meaning best friend, Curtis Weaver (Billy Turnbull), a chubby kid with a fake arm. Todd periodically seeks advice from three older metalheads who hang out around a crappy car and smoke in the parking lot, offering cryptic hints and sage nuggets of wisdom to him as the story progresses. Todd lusts after a pretty dark haired girl named Jenny Kolinsky (Maggie Castle) who hangs out sort of by default with the resident geek girl Hannah Williams (Melanie Leishman). When Todd needs advice, he doesn't go to the school's strange guidance counselor, Atticus Murphy Jr. (Chris Leavins), but instead to the sage herb smoking janitor, Jimmy (Jason Mewes).
The second season of the show picks up pretty much exactly where the first one left off. If you haven't seen that first series, be advised that there will be some mild spoilers in this review. At any rate, when the first episode kicks off, Atticus has taken the main position at the retirement home and is well on his way to controlling the book and becoming the pure evil one. Curtis' arm was cut off by Todd in the first season and he's now got a bionic replacement. On top of that, he and Hannah are now officially an item. Todd still wants Jenny, Jenny still thinks Todd's a goof and Jimmy is fooling around with one of the MILFish female teachers.
The complete list of episodes that make up the second season of Todd & The Book Of Pure Evil are presented across the two discs in this set from eOne as follows:
Disc One: Redierment Home / The Student Body / Daddy Tissues / Simply The Beast / Jungle Fever / Fisting Fantasy / See You Later, Masturbator / Loser Generated Content
Disc Two: Deathday Cake / 2 Girls, 1 Tongue / B.Y.O.B.O.P.E. / The Toddyssey / Black Tie Showdown
As the second season progresses the mythology of the show evolves, just as it did in the first season. Once again, a lot of the humor here is pretty crass and often based around foul language and gore but that doesn't really make it any less effective. It's interesting to watch how the writers latch onto Atticus a bit more this season, his conniving and weaseling becoming very much the focus of a few of the storylines that play out. All of this builds towards the last episode but before we get there, quite a bit happens. Early in the series Jenny's father is freed from the retirement home but becomes a problem when he's not allowed to join the gang. A cheerleader gets tossed off of the team and uses the book to get revenge and then later while a â€˜think green' student gets so upset over all of the litter on the school grounds that she uses the book to turn the entire place into a jungle and the student body into Neanderthals. One kid uses the book to turn invisible so that he can peep in on some of the girls. When Jimmy is blamed he gets fired leaving Todd and Curtis his only hope at getting his job back. Todd wrecks a lot of A/V gear which earns him the wraith of some pissed of audio video club members, while Curtis' birthday is ruined by a cake that eats people. The Phantom Of Crowley High seen in the first season returns for a musical extravaganza and the book wreaks havoc at an already chaotic house party and Todd gets involved with an â€˜easy' girl named Nikki (Carmen Lavigne) whose open legs may lead Todd to bring on the Apocalypse. When Todd takes a trip into the future and sees that Atticus rules Crowley High in his own evil way, it inevitably leads to a showdown at the semi-formal wherein the true identity of the pure evil one should, theoretically at least, be revealed.
As it stands right now, the Space Channel has opted not to renew the series for a third season. The show's producers used an indiegogo crowd sourcing campaign to raise enough money for an animated feature film entitled Todd & The Book Of Pure Evil: The End Of The End set for release in 2014 that should bring the series to its proper close. So with that said, some of this season feels very rushed and not quite properly finished. It's hard to fault the writing team for that, it's really just a circumstantial thing but if for that reason the second season doesn't feel quite as strong as the excellent first season, the good still very definitely outweighs the bad. The characters are still pretty funny and the performances strong across the board. With Atticus' rise now a very real threat we get to see things go in a different direction compared to the first season where he was just the goofy guidance counselor and the series is still very clever in how it works typical and mundane teenage problems into a storyline that really is about bringing on a potential antichrist.
What we wind up with is a nice combination of interesting and well written characters and occasionally gross and often very gory humor. It's a combination unlike anything else on TV, as it takes that formula and works it into a genuinely funny apocalyptic storyline, something that technically shouldn't really exist in the first place. There's a seriously impressive sense of unbridled creativity in this show that makes it hard to resist and although the twenty some off minute format of each episode combined with the impending cancellation rushes things and means that we don't always get as much plot and character development as we need, this is still pretty addictive. It's a shame Space opted out of a proper season three, but bring on the movie, long may Todd reign!
Todd & The Book Of Pure Evil: The Complete Second Season arrives on DVD in 1.78.1 anamorphic widescreen and overall it looks quite good. Though there is some shimmer here and there the image is generally a very stable one showing good color reproduction, particularly the reds, and solid black levels. Minor compression artifacts pop up once in a while but never to the point where they really distract and detail is quite good by the standards of the format. As the series is shot on digital video and transferred straight to DVD there are obviously no issues with dirt or damage. Yeah, all in all, the series looks pretty darn good here.
The English language Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound mix on this set is pretty great, using the rear channels to bring the more insane moments of each episode to life, be it the sound of the book sprouting wings and flying past you or the womping sounds of a teenage boy fighting a gigantic penis. Bass response is strong but not overpowering, dialogue is always clear, there are no issues with hiss or distortion to complain about and generally the sound quality is excellent across the board.
Outside of menus and episode selection there are no extras on the first disc except for the two commentary tracks noted below but the second disc features quite a bit of additional material. But first, yeah, commentary tracksâ€¦ here's what you get:
Simply The Beast:Actors Alex House and Bill Turnbull, writer Ian Malone, executive producer Andrew Rossen, writer/director Craig D. Wallace and effects man David Scott
See You Later, Masturbator: Actors Bill Turnbull, Alex House and Jason Mewes, and writers Max and Adam Reid
Black Tie Showdown: Actors Alex House, writer/director Craig D. Wallace and editor Gillian Truster
These tracks are okay. The cast seem to have the most to say at any given time but it's interesting to hear from Wallace who wrote and directed the short film that the series was based on as well as from members of the writing team. There's some interesting thoughts and input into the effects work that we see in each episode as well as some insight into the characters and the character development that we see as the show evolves. These are generally well paced without much in the way of dead air and if they do occasionally go off topic here and there, at least when they do they remain amusing to listen to.
Also included on the disc are just over seven minutes worth of Deleted And Extended Scenes, seventeen clips in total taken from throughout the second season run. They're brief but occasionally amusing. Most of these would appear to have been trimmed just to keep the running time low, there's nothing super revelatory or Earth shattering here. There's also five minutes worth of Extended Musical Numbers, made up of the four songs that are in this season: again, amusing but they won't change your life. Brief but informative is the three minute Special FX Bonus Material segment which takes us behind the scenes of the show and shows us how the gore effects were done in a trio of different episodes. If you're into goof ups, then check out the five and a half minute long Blooper Reel, some of the slip ups here are pretty funny. In Memoriam: A Tribute To The Fallen Students Of Crowley High runs just over a minute in length and is a goofy little highlight reel that basically names off all of the characters that were killed off in the two seasons of the show.
More substantial and worthwhile is the seventeen minute long Script To Screen featurette that is basically a walk through courtesy of Warren Sonada, the director of the B.Y.O.B.O.P.E. episode, that covers how the series is written and then produced. We get some insight into the writing process, sit in on some production meetings and then see some read throughs before heading to the set to watch the shoot actually happen. It's a pretty interesting segment that really gives us a nice look at what goes into putting this odd little show together. Last but not least we get a sixteen minute piece called Cast Q & A which includes input from Alex House, Maggie Castle, Melanie Leishman, Chris Leavins, Bill Turnbull and Jason Mewes. Here the participants discuss their characters and what it was like working with one another on the series. Everyone seems to like everyone else and to have had fun with their involvement in the show. It's not so much a question and answer session as it is a series of fairly light talking head interviews, but it's breezy and amusing enough that if you're a fan of the series you'll want to watch it once.
Todd & The Book Of Pure Evil: The Complete Second Season is pretty great stuff. Not as great as the first season, but still way better and way more interesting than most of what's on TV these days. The series is consistently funny, sometimes pretty shocking, and it's also often times quite clever. The cast are great, the effects work is a lot of fun and it all moves at such a frantic and insane pace that it's never dull. eOne have put together a nice package for this second season, including a load of extra features and offering up the episodes in their proper uncut form and in very nice shape. Recommended.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.