Peacock Goes Full Throttle on Vehicular Mayhem
Big Guns, Fast Cars, Can’t Lose
Cars, guns, homicidal clowns—if you came for anything else, you are driving the wrong way on a one-way street. Twisted Metal is The Fast and the Furious meets Mad Max.
Developed and distributed by Peacock, this show proves that Peacock came to streaming wars to win.
Set in the post-apocalyptic world of the near future after a cyber attack leaves society as we know it in the dark, the show centers around a delivery driver in the form of John Doe. Called “milkmen,” these drivers make their way across the wasteland that is the good ole USA, avoiding marauders, natural hazards, and misguided policemen who try to maintain misguided order in a world gone wrong.
If you were a fan of the vehicular combat video game franchise of the same name, published by Sony Interactive Entertainment, you won’t be disappointed.
In the opening to the series, we meet John as he evades a gang of ruthless marauders and leads them on an impressive chase through the surprisingly spacious interior of a mall. After escaping, John heads to New San Francisco, a walled-up city in the world that is to pick up a package in New Chicago and return it safely to Raven. If he succeeds, he will earn himself a nice cushy home in the relatively safety of the fortress.
The show is framed around this journey, as John makes his way across the country. Along the way, he’ll find his skills tested. He gains new frenemies in the form of Quiet and, later, a former lover. He’ll face Sweet Tooth and Agent Stone, as well as a merry band of marauders known as the Holy Men led aptly by Preacher and Bloody Mary. The plot is so straightforward and it isn’t a detraction, as this allows the viewer to focus on the crazy characters that call this world home and their unique kill machines.
There’s No “I” in Ensemble
Ensembles have never looked so good. This serie features a rag-tag band of top-notch talent playisng for laughs. Second only to the stunts, the casting is the best reason to watch the show.
Anthony Mackie delights as John Doe—the impossibly positive and always optimistic milkman. Suffering from amnesia, John Doe is a man without a past, who only looks to the future and beyond. Mackie’s unique blend of comedy and acting chops makes him a perfect fit for this role.
Stephanie Beatriz stars oppositive Mackie as Quiet. Quiet accompanies John on his journey as a partner with a hatchet to bury against Agent Stone, one of the primary antagonists of the show. Beatriz brings vulnerability to the character but reminds us that a woman with a grudge is not someone you want to cross.
In an unintended comparison to Master Blaster, Joe Seanoa (aka Samoa Joe) and Bill Hader team up to embody Sweet Tooth, a murderous clown wandering the ruins of Lost Vegas; the former occupying the physical role with Hader lending his voice talents to the John Wayne Gacy-esque serial killer. Joe Seanoa occupies this role completely and kudos to Peacock for casting a wrestler that combines physicality and showmanship in such a complete package.
Neve Campbell is our quest giver as Raven, a duplicitous COO of New San Francisco. With limited screen time, it’s hard to get a sense for the character, and as such, she comes off as a bit mustache-twirly, but knowing Neve’s acting leads one to believe she will have an increased role in season 2 and will not disappoint. Hopefully, we’ll get to see her behind the wheel of a car.
Jason Mantzouka is in a role he was born to play as Preacher and Chloe Fineman as Bloody Mary, where her SNL chops are on full parade. They are a surprisingly delightful pairing, and they steal the screen every time they are on it.
Thomas Haden Church does a solid job with a fairly stock part of a misguided lawman trying to bring order to a lawless world. Church fully commits to the role and does as much as he can with the material as given.
Mike Mitchell turns in a surprisingly empathetic performance as Stu, a misguided deputy to Stone finds himself flip-flopping loyalties and teaming up with Sweet Tooth. Stu has perhaps the most transformative arc of the entire show and he does miles with what he’s given on the page.
“Did You Come for the Show?”
Let’s be honest—Twisted Metal is a show about vehicular mayhem, so engagement is based on a few things: cars and guns with a heavy side helping of psychotic murder clown. Anything else is icing on the cake. So did it deliver? Yes, yes it did—in spades.
Twisted Metal tows the line between full of Mad Max and a network comedy. It takes advantage of the many and varied landscapes, from the airy deserts of Lost Vegas to the fortress of New San Francisco. The series finale takes place at a racetrack, which becomes a satisfying battle arena as cars whiplash around the track unloading magazines, firing missiles, and hurling insults at each other.
If you are a fan of practical stunts and effects, this show has got you covered. Except a few clear CGI elements, this show looks and feels like a smash derby on steroids. Stunts are real and visceral and captured. The show had a reasonable budget of $45 million and it shows on screen; not since The Blues Brothers have this many cars been smashed iron derby style (outside of perhaps The “Mad Max” franchise.
This adaptation takes a high road above its schlocky origins with plenty of road ahead for season 2, and it deserves a five-star rating.
Twisted Metal is now streaming on Peacock.
Official Twisted Metal Trailer