In a medium over-saturated with superhero content, El Vecino is a Spanish series that feels like a final, fatigued attempt to rekindle some of that small-screen joy and mold it into comedy gold. While the story is pretty generic and follows many of the superhero tropes we’ve come to expect over the years, it does so with a sporadically changing comedic tongue, one that uses a lot of pauses and silences that don’t always work as well as they should.
The story revolves around Javier, a 30 year old self-centred, apathetic young man whose life changes forever when a comet smashes down to Earth and with it, an alien bestows on him the power of becoming the “Guardian”. When his girlfriend Lola breaks up with him soon after, Javier sets out to try and make sense of his newfound superhero powers, including a medallion that instantly disguises him in a cheap, red suit, complete with a helmet and cape.
The real catalyst for the story though comes from a video Lola shoots for her social media channel, unbeknownst to her hosting Javier in the background flying over her apartment building. With the public gripped by this viral video, Javier enlists the help of his new friend Jose Ramon to help him rise to the occasion and become Titan, the crime fighting hero. Of course, given this a comedy things don’t go to plan and what follows are a series of different antics that play on a range of comedic ideas and influences across the season.
One of the biggest problems I had with this one, alongside the aforementioned plot, comes from the distinct lack of background music during some scenes. It’s particularly noticeable early on when the characters are being established and during the moments the jokes do fall flat, the gravity of this is worsened thanks to the lack of audio and prolonged pauses. There’s a mix of slapstick, toilet, situational and even dark comedy that plays out here and while some of it doesn’t always land that well, a few absolutely do. It’s worth mentioning there’s a couple of well-timed parodical elements here too, including a nod to La Casa De Papel early on which was a nice touch.
With each episode clocking in at 30 minutes a pop, El Vecino is a pretty easy show to dip in and out of but takes a few episodes to really get going. The serialized format, ending on little cliffhangers each episode, helps to keep that moreish factor going but the real deciding factor comes down to whether the humour will be for you. Personally, I didn’t find this all that funny and the fleeting moments I did chuckle or smile came from when the show experimented with different styles. The way this one frustratingly shoots all over the shop to try and find its winning combination of jokes and ideas though ultimately makes this one feel more miss than hit.
If you can take to its unique style, El Vecino is a flawed but reasonably enjoyable ride. People will inevitably compare this to more prolific superhero comedies like Shazam though, and by comparison this one just doesn’t have the same range of likable characters at its helm to help paper over its issues. El Vecino feels like yet another superhero entry to an already stacked genre and unfortunately doesn’t quite have the legs, or the comedic chops, to stand on its own.
|El Vecino (The Neighbor) is available to watch on Netflix from 31st December. Feel free to click here and sign up now to check this show out!|