You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

TV Review: ‘Stan Against Evil’

John C. McGinley, Janet Varney, Deborah Baker Jr., Nate Mooney

“Stan Against Evil” is a slight and silly horror comedy that knows what its limitations are and does its best to be amusing despite them. The main reason to tune in to this cheerfully goofy show is to see typically excellent performances from leads John C. McGinley and Janet Varney, who work well together as a law-enforcement team trying to protect a small town from an infestation of demons and other weird critters.

Actually, McGinley’s character, Stan Miller, is retired; he’s the former sheriff of Willard’s Mill, a New England town that burned far more than its share of witches hundreds of years ago. The town’s constable was involved in that wave of persecution, and ever since, Willard’s Mill’s top cops have always met bloody and untimely ends at the hands of vengeful spirits.

The reason that Stan was spared that fate is explained early on, but the show’s grab-bag mythology isn’t really the point, nor are its low-budget, splatter-y special effects. What’s most fun about “Stan” is watching the grumpy ex-cop reluctantly join forces with Evie Barret (Varney), the town’s energetic and resourceful new sheriff. McGinley is a master of the withering put-down, but, as has always been the case (especially on “Scrubs”), he’s always been able to show flashes of his characters’ intelligence, dedication, and humanity. Stan’s in a bad place as the show begins, and as gruff as he is, the chance to fight evil with Evie allows him to begin the process of rebuilding his life.

The stories will be familiar to anyone with a glancing knowledge of the horror genre, but McGinley and Varney, who’s been terrific as a recurring character on “You’re the Worst,” are a well-matched duo. Evie is more earnest than Stan, but she wrings a great deal of comedy from her reactions to her bizarre new situation, which includes dealing with a lot of strange or possessed locals. She’s also saddled with a sweetly dopey deputy who is about as useless as they come. Rounding out the show’s four core characters is Stan’s naive adult daughter, a ditzy character who is brought to charming life by Deborah Baker Jr.

The only recurring annoyance is that the title character’s constant litany of complaints contains a lot of lazy sexist jokes, which the show seems to think are funnier and more original than they are. At times, the pop-culture references and surreal segues make “Stan Against Evil” feel a bit like a saucy animated show done with live actors, not that that’s necessarily a bad thing. And that vibe makes sense, given that creator Dana Gould has written for “The Simpsons.”

All in all, this low-key but moderately amusing comedy seems like a good fit for the IFC brand.

TV Review: 'Stan Against Evil'

Comedy (8 episodes, 6 reviewed); 10 p.m., Weds. Nov. 2, IFC (special airing of pilot 11 p.m. Oct. 31). 30 min.


Executive producers, Dana Gould, Tom Lassally, Frank Scherma, Justin Wilkes.

Cast: John C. McGinley, Janet Varney, Deborah Baker Jr., Nate Mooney

More TV

  • James Holzhauer $2 million

    'Jeopardy!' Champion James Holzhauer Hits $2 Million Winnings Milestone

    This current “Jeopardy!” player has just won over $2 million on the popular game show. Who is James Holzhauer? The 34 year old professional sports gambler from Las Vegas has hit a “Jeopardy!” milestone by becoming only the second person in the show’s history to win over $2 million in regular season play. Holzhauer won [...]

  • Kanye West Shares a Memory of

    Kanye West Shares a Touching Memory of His Mother in Letterman Interview

    In a preview of David Letterman’s interview with Kanye West, which begins streaming next Friday, May 31, the musician’s wife Kim Kardashian West, tweeted a clip of him sharing a touching memory of his mother, Donda, who died in 2007 after a surgical procedure. While his wife looks on smiling, West answers Letterman’s question about [...]

  • CNN Lays Off Some Health Journalism

    CNN Lays Off Some Health Journalism Staffers

    CNN has laid off a handful of staffers from its health-journalism unit after deciding to place its health, climate and Southeastern newsgathering operations under a single aegis. ” As part of the normal course of business, our newsgathering team made a small restructure earlier this week that ultimately impacts 6-7 employees within CNN’s Health Unit,” [...]

  • Henry Ian Cusick

    'Lost' Star Henry Ian Cusick Signs With Buchwald (EXCLUSIVE)

    Henry Ian Cusick, best known for playing Desmond on the hit ABC series “Lost,” is signing with talent agency Buchwald for representation. Cusick also starred in the CW sci-fi/drama “The 100” and was most recently seen in the Fox series “The Passage.” His other notable television credits include “Scandal,” “24,” “Fringe,” “The Mentalist,” “Body of [...]

  • Bryan Cranston First Time in Variety

    Bryan Cranston on His Early Roles, Dealing With Rejection and His 'Erasable Mind'

    Following his 2014 Tony Award for best actor as President Lyndon B. Johnson in Robert Schenkkan’s play “All the Way,” Bryan Cranston is looking to add to his trophy collection this year with his performance as Howard Beale in “Network.” The deranged anchorman — who’s famously “mad as hell and not going to take this [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content