Dustin has been talking up CBS’ new political-ish, zombie-ish comedy BrainDead all summer, but I didn’t sit down to binge it (which you can do through Amazon Prime) until this weekend. And if you haven’t done the same yet, get on that immediately. It’s weird and smart and darkly funny. Mary Elizabeth Winstead can carry the crap out of a show, and it’s got bonus Tony Shalhoub, to boot.
But the very best thing about the show isn’t technically part of the show. BrainDead has— hands fully, firmly down— the very best “Previously On” segments on television, now or quite possibly ever. My condolences to the previous title holder, Jane the Virgin: you’re still gorgeous and hilarious, but please hand over your sash and crown.
This is the recap of episode one, played before the second episode. Spoiler warning, of course, although the first episode’s plot is pretty much just the trailer-level basics of the show’s description. I get if you don’t want to watch it, although I would argue that the joy of these 60 seconds is greater than the minor spoilage.
If you don’t recognize that beautiful voice there, that’s geek genius singer/songwriter Jonathan Coulton, which explains EVERYTHING about why these segments are so great. The decision to recap the show’s plot points via song is a strong one, and Coulton’s energetic, whimsical sci-fi style is the perfect fit. Honestly, this show has a lot of selling points, but if I hadn’t somehow missed the two words Jonathan and Coulton, I would would have been there episode one.
Frankly, I’m VERY ANGRY AT ALL OF YOU for not making me aware of this. I don’t want to hear any of that, “But Viv, It’s YOUR job to tell US these things.” I’M TOO MAD. I’m going to hit play on that video again and dance these feelings out.
If you don’t want to watch the spoilers up there, but also want your taste of Coulton, here’s another zombie-themed song that should tell you everything you need to know about him and why you want to watch any show he’s even tangentially involved with.
And, as a bonus, here’s my personal favorite Coulton number, a love song from Pluto’s moon to the now-non-planet.
Coulton is the perfect fit for this show, and actually may be the (or at least a believable) reason why the pilot didn’t grab a lot of us the way the rest of the episodes did. I like BrainDead, but I LOVE the intros. They set a tone of highly intelligent, serious absurdist whimsy that the rest of the show comes very close to matching. It’s not quite as brilliant as those intros, and starting each episode off with a minute of Coulton legitimately makes an already great show even better.
And as an added bonus, Coulton got the gig as the result of a big “eff you” to Glee. You might remember back in 2013 when Glee straight-up stole Coulton’s totally unique arrangement of Baby’s Got Back. They thought no one would notice, and then when people (um, like Coulton) did notice, they said he should be happy with the free UNCREDITED exposure. He, to put it as simply as that idiotic assumption itself, was not.
Good show, PHENOMENAL songs, and a statement against stealing artists’ work. If you’re still not convinced you should be watching this show, I’m just going to assume you have space bugs in your brain.