Yeah, the guy on the left is holding his gun Gangsta Style. Don't hold that against him
Let's get out there and kill something!
Captain Frank Dashell
Death Valley was a Live Action half-hour Black Comedy/Horror show on MTV. It revolved around the UTF (Undead Task Force), a branch of the Los Angeles Police Department that deal with Vampires, Werewolves and Zombies in the San Fernando Valley. A year before the series began, these supernatural monsters suddenly appeared in the Valley for no known reason, forcing its inhabitants to adapt to their suddenly shifted lives.The series was filmed as a faux-documentary in the style of COPS, with the members of the UTF followed by a camera crew that are capturing their efforts to deal with various supernatural outbreaks. There are six featured members of the UTF:
Officer Carla Rinaldi: The no-nonsense member of the team, Carla would rather deal with zombies quickly than mess around. She has adapted to most of the new supernatural world and is no longer either excited or terrified by monsters, treating each encounter with the blase of experience. Captain Dashell believes her to be Hispanic, which she has refuted without elaboration.
There is also a recurring team of camera men and sound engineers that form a minor supporting cast, frequently in the background and the edge of the screen when the officers are in the field. Unlike most mockumentaries, the crew of the Show Within a Show are often dragged into the action, sometimes assisting the officers in their adventures and even getting killed in the line of duty.The show was not renewed for a second season, leaving it at twelve episodes.
Death Valley provides examples of the following tropes:
Accidental Misnaming: Captain Dashell spent the first five episodes mispronouncing Kirsten's name. First he simply mistook it for "Kristen," but when she corrected him he tried to get it right and began inserting random letters (Including at least one 'G') on each new try. He finally got it right in episode six, but he was so preoccupied with work he did not even notice that he had done it, or how much it obviously meant to her.
Action Girl: Kirsten Landry has the martial skills to leave her sparring partner senseless on the ground, despite the padded sparring equipment, and kill or disable zombies and werewolves with her bare hands. When Captain Dashell asked her if she was doing some sort of jazzer-size in the gym, she explained that it was actually a workout based on her father's experiences in the military.
Action Survivor: John-John and Carla only begin to give their sound guy respect when he survives a zombie attack without being bitten. Throughout the series he occasionally pitches in to help in fights, once even hitting a zombie with his boom mic and commenting that it sounded cool.
Actually Pretty Funny: When Carla and Kirsten are called to an old woman's apartment, where she is keeping her zombie husband tied to a bed, Kirsten attempts to persuade her to allow them to kill the zombie. After an emotional speech, which drew on Kirsten's personal experience of losing her mother at a young age, the zombie farts and everybody present cannot help laughing despite their best efforts.
Adult Fear: Stubeck is a father of two little girls, and he spends a lot of time worrying what is going to happen to his kids as they grow up. Each time he encounters a woman in a demeaning or dangerous job he tries to discover what happened in their life to force them to this, and how he can help them get out of it.
Ambiguously Brown: Captain Dashell once tried to reference Carla's quinceañera, to which Carla responds that she is not Hispanic, but she does not elaborate. Her actress, Tania Raymonde, is of French and Russian descent.
Anything That Moves: Captain Dashell has made sexually suggestive remarks, including some minor touching, to both men and women under his command. However, he has also stated (to the camera) that it would be inappropriate for him to engage in any sort of sexual activities with his subordinates.
When attacked by a werewolf on the set of an adult film, the camera operator following the UTF drops his camera and the "insert guy" picks it up and continues to film the action.
Batter Up: John-John actually has a holster for a bat on his back, which he uses to kill zombies. His partner Carla prefers to just shoot them in the head, but he points out that bats never run out of ammo.
Bi the Way: Julia, Carla's girlfriend, is bisexual. At the end of the series Carla as well. But maybe only where John-John is concerned.
Boom, Headshot: The quickest means of defeating a zombie, and Carla's preferred method.
Bottomless Magazines: Averted, whenever a character winds up facing a horde of zombies they run out of ammunition and need to either get more from a different location or kill the zombies by hand. Episode ten revolves around a zombie siege of the UTF when they discover that their ammunition stockpile has been stolen, forcing them to carefully ration their remaining bullets and (eventually) make weapons out of whatever material is handy.
Brick Joke: After Billy asks a drive-thru waitress about her "kabobs" (See Lampshaded Double Entendre below) the next scene shows him, Stubeck and Jamie (The sound guy) eating kabobs in their car.
Bunny-Ears Lawyer: The UTF cops might be incredibly Badass but at least half of them would be fired for their cloudcuckoolander tendencies if they were on a regular police force.
Casual Danger Dialogue: When Kirsten reveals that she is a virgin when the UTF is under siege by zombies, Stubeck asks if he can spend a few minutes with her and get information on her childhood and her parents child-rearing methods in order to replicate them with his own daughters. Kirsten says that she would be happy to do so once they have escaped the horde of zombies.
Catch Phrase: Captain Dashell's "Let's get out there and kill something."
Could Say It But: After John-John accidentally kills an old man, thinking he was a zombie, Captain Dashell addresses the whole squad.
"Now it is not important who caused this death, which is why I don't mind saying it was John-John."
Chainsaw Good: While John-John usually wields his trusty bat, he is more then happy to switch to a Chainsaw when he has to, with the expected result.
Clear My Name: When the entire ammo and weapon supply of the UTF is stolen with nobody even noticing, many members of the force accuse Kirsten, who had only just revealed the truth about the GBGB parties she had attended with Natalie, the Captains niece. During the climactic fight scene, she charges straight at the zombie horde screaming "I'm not a traitor!"
When Captain Dashell and Billy are fighting an extremely large vampire, who seems only mildly pained by the U.V. gun, they slam him into a tanning bed and turn the power up to maximum.
When the UTF discovers that all their weaponry and ammunition has been stolen they fight off a horde of zombies with whatever they can find, including (Amongst other things) a metal coffee pot (filled with water to make it heavier), a broken root-beer bottle and a drawer (Still in the desk).
Continuity Nod: In the season one finale, Billy questions whether it is smart to give the vampires the location of the UTF headquarters. Stubeck points out that, not only is their address public knowledge, but the vampires have already attacked the building, and actually blew it up only two weeks ago. Billy grins sheepishly and admits that Stubeck was right and, considering what had already happened, it was pretty dumb of himself to raise the point.
Death by Sex: Inverted. When a werewolf attacks an Adult Film set, it is the makeup artist who is killed, with all the actors surviving.
Deconstruction: Despite its comedy status, the series often takes a serious look at how a real zombie/vampire/werewolf outbreak would impact (and be impacted by) the real world. This includes questions of disposing of the bodies of zombies, keeping track of who is infected by the werewolf virus, the political ramifications of police actions, etc. Even the mockumentary nature of the series is explored as members of the crew are exposed to scenarios that no camera crew is prepared to encounter, with a detriment to their ability to film the show.
Destructive Saviour: Captain Dashell needs to remember that Animal Control is a specific organization for a reason, and catching a rat really is different than catching a zombie. When he tries to impress Kirsten by helping out a couple who called the police, thinking they had a zombie in their attic, he winds up destroying their house before getting the rat.
Dirty Harriet: Carla goes undercover as a Sex-For-Blood vampire prostitute.
Disposable Sex Worker: Sofia, the first vampire seen in the series, is working as a "blood for sex" prostitute, having sex with people in exchange for being given their blood. Stubeck tries to reach her emotionally after he arrests her and tries to convince her to turn her life around, but she is killed in the next episode. However, instead of being brushed aside, Stubeck is morose over her death and Billy tries to reassure him by explaining that he cannot save everyone, and what counts is that he tried.
The Werewolves have been used as a one-time metaphor for drunk driving, with Stubeck and Billy pulling over a werewolf in mid-change for driving during a full moon.
In "Two Girls, One Cop" the werewolf virus is used as a metaphor for HIV/AIDS within the Adult Film industry, with several references made to events in the early 1990's of HIV-positive actors spreading the disease.
Chloe's turning is called her being "gangfanged" and is clearly sexual replete with moans and other sexual imagery.
Natalie, the Captain's niece, describes when she was turned as being invited over to a male friends house, discovering that he had many other men with him who forced her to drink, and then attacking her when she was drunk and only climbing off her when his girlfriend came home. The entire scene, including the questions Kirsten asked, was a standard depiction of rape disclosure.
Dual Wielding: When the squad runs out of weapons and ammunition during the zombie siege of their office, Kirsten carries two clubs when everybody arms themselves with melee weapons.
Due to the Dead: Both the police and the vampires have eleborate funeral ceremonies to honor their dead. The vampires' customs can easily squick out a human.
Ethical Slut: The actors of "Two Girls, One Cop," who are just normal people and entered the adult film industry for the good pay and because they enjoyed the sex.
Fair Cop: Both Carla and Kirsten get a lot of flirting from their male co-workers and the civilians they encounter.
Fight Clubbing: Zombie Fights, where two zombies are made to fight over a piece of meat, are an on-line event, specifically compared to Bum Fights. John-John discovers his father is a zombie when he sees him in one of the fights.
Fix It in Post: After Billy flirts with a news reporter, on camera, she informs him that he is confusing her with a different reporter that had been killed earlier in the episode. Billy continues to hit on her until Stubeck makes him realize the situation, whereupon Billy himself turns to the camera and asks if they can fix it in post.
Fun with Acronyms: Dep. Chief Ribbings in episode 6 replaces the term zombie with Potential Undead Suspect, or PUS (pronounced "puss"), setting up the end when his last words end up being "I am a PUS! Kill me!"
Hot Teacher: Leslie, Stubeck's daughter, has a teacher that Stubeck (reluctantly) admits is hot (He quickly clarifies that he is only sexually attracted to his wife). Billy accompanies him to Parent Career Day in order to flirt with her.
Hypocritical Heartwarming: Billy quickly turns on the sound guy when he insults Stubeck, pointing out that only he is allowed to insult his partner.
While John-John was pretty much resigned that his attraction to Carla was strictly a one way street, after his one man take down of invading zombies, Carla was impressed enough to organize a personal get together in a hotel room later. When the ensuing explosion trauma erased most of his memory of the night she tells him that what they had discussed was that she would always be his partner.
Played straight in the season one finale when Carla plants a passionate kiss on John-John after saving him from a vampire attack.
I Have Brothers: Kirsten explains her hand-to-hand combat skills by saying that her father was in the military.
Lampshaded Double Entendre: When discussing the delicious kabobs served at a Lebanese take-out restaurant, Billy decrees that "nice kabobs" sounds dirty, and explains how he would love to go up to a worker at a restaurant and compliment her on her kabobs. He later does so, to which the drive-thru attendant groans and closes the window on him.
Let Them Die Happy: When Officer Brown is revealed to have been bitten by a zombie after the siege of the UTF and is already mostly turned into a zombie, Captain Dashell takes a plastic trophy off one of the desks in the office and presents it to Brown. He explains that it is to recognize and commend his bravery and service, placing it in Brown's hands before shooting him.
Loophole Abuse: Stubeck makes Billy promise not to go alone after the vampire that had jumped Stubeck outside a bar. Billy agrees, but then simply asks Captain Dashell to accompany him since, if he is not alone, he is not breaking his promise.
Man Child: Billy Pierce, who keeps making sexual innuendos when he arrests a prostitute, shows the pornography on his phone to anybody who will look and keeps trying to make clever jokes and poses for the camera crew following him around. Stubeck, his partner, tries to get him to take what they do more seriously, and on more than one occasion has explicitly told Billy to grow up.
Mind Control: The vampires are rumored to be able to control zombies, potentially explaining where the horde of zombies came from during the hijacking of the four blood bank trucks.
The Mole: Captian Dashell is convinced the vampires have a mole at the UTF station and assigns Stubeck to figure out who it is. After reviewing the video footage he discovers that the mole was the camera guy who filmed the footage.
Mood Whiplash: For all that the show is a comedy, it is still about a life and death struggle against supernatural evil and normal crime. The joking officers get sober pretty quickly once their personal lives and people they love are dragged into the violence.
In a Call Back to when they were trapped in a van by zombies, when the UTF station itself is attacked by zombies Carla tells John-John that she will book a hotel room if they do manage to survive.
When the entire cast is trapped in a zombie siege the members begin to list their life regrets, which ultimately devolves into listing specific sexual fantasies that they never got to fulfill. Kirsten then says that she just wishes she had sex; she had never met the right guy at the right time.
When two regular LAPD officers are temporarily sent to the Valley to help with a prisoner transfer, it quickly becomes clear that they are completely untrained for handling zombies.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: A bomb strapped to a zombie turns out to be a dud. Then a pissed off Jon-Jon kicks the zombie and the bomb starts beeping again.
No Respect Guy: Kirsten, on her first day in the UTF, killed a zombie with her bare hands in the station, but none of the officers were looking at her to see the fight. It happens again in "Zombie Fights," where she again defeats a zombie single-handedly, but is criticized by Carla over her methods.
Obstructive Bureaucrat: Deputy Chief Ribbings, who institutes new protocols after John accidentally killed an octogenarian after mistaking him for a zombie. The new protocols require an officer to approach any potential zombie with the assumption that they are not a zombie and wait sixty seconds before using lethal force. All the officers explain that this will simply get them killed, and each time they attempt to follow the regulations they are forced to switch to lethal force anyway when the zombies attack them.
Once an Episode: Captain Dashell's Catch Phrase "let's get out there and kill something" ends every station meeting at the beginning of each episode.
Our Vampires Are Different: They have some of the traditional weaknesses, including sunlight and wooden stakes through the heart, but they do need to breathe and are no more inherently evil than normal people.
Parental Substitute: Stubeck is father-figure to both Billy and Kirsten, giving them advice on romance and living life.
Police Brutality: In general, excessive force is allowed against vampires and zombies without repercussion due to the nature of the perpetrators. Sometimes the characters go a little further than is necessary.
Rewind, Replay, Repeat: Steuback is trying to figure out who broke into the armory so he is watching footage of the captain changing the security code for the armory door. His gut tells him that The Mole obtained the code by watching the captain enter it but the footage does not show anyone else present. He keeps replaying the recording over and over till he realizes that since the footage came from the documentary crew filming in the station, the other person present was the camera man.
Rhetorical Question Blunder: When Billy is upset that Stubeck implies that following a blood donation truck to a hospital was his idea, Stubeck asks if Billy is also taking credit for the delicious milkshake that he got at McDonalds earlier that day. Billy says that yes, he is, since it was his idea to get a milkshake, and Stubeck admits that he is right.
Sex Is Evil: Discussed. When the officers are called to an Adult Film set due to a werewolf attack, Stubeck spends a lot of time wondering what childhood trauma or abuse drove these women into porn. However, once he talks to them he learns that they had normal, healthy childhoods with good families and education, and that they entered porn because it offered a good salary and they enjoyed the sex.
Shoot the Rope: When Kirsten is trapped by a zombie-criminal whose legs are chained together, Carla frees her by shooting the chain.
Sincerity Mode: When one of the sound guys announces to the squadroom that he donated blood earlier in the day, Captain Dashell turns to him and sarcastically remarks that he has a lollipop in his desk. Later in the episode, the sound guy reveals that Dashell really did give him a lollipop (two, in fact).
Straight Man: Joe Stubeck, who treats everybody he encounters (Including vampires) with courtesy and an honest will to help. This includes trying to get the people he arrests to turn their lives around instead of continuing their cycle of crime and incarceration.
Swiss Cheese Security: The vampires somehow manage to take all the guns and ammo out of the armory of a police station. Since the station seems to be manned around the clock, at least one of the police officers should have noticed something. It is revealed that the perpetrator was the cameraman filming the documentary, who had filmed Capain Dashell entering armory (And thus knew the access code) and could enter and leave the station without raising suspicion.
When Captain Dashell told Kirsten to get out of her clothes and prepare for the time of her life, he quickly apologizes and explains that he meant for her to put on her uniform since he was taking her on patrol.
"I'm getting very tired of everybody fingering Kirsten."
There Are No Therapists: Averted after the deadly zombie attack on the station. A therapist is brought in to help the cops deal with the events.
When Carla and Kirsten are called to an old woman's apartment, where she is keeping her zombie husband tied to a bed, Kirsten attempts to persuade her to allow them to kill the zombie. After an emotional speech, which drew on Kirsten's personal experience of losing her mother at a young age, the zombie farts and everybody present cannot help laughing.
Too Dumb to Live: People are still trying to live in the Valley as if nothing is happening and don't seem to take any extra precautions despite how dangerous zombie or vampire attacks can be
Deputy Chief Ribbings wants the cops to wait sixty seconds before shooting a zombie just to avoid another PR disaster
The cops repeatedly tell a group of teenagers to stop 'helping' the cops by attacking zombies since it is a good way to get yourself killed. By the end of the episode, the kids are turned into zombies and have to be put down
Both Billy and John-John do really stupid and careless things that can get them or their partners killed. Billy keeps eating dairy products even when everyone tells him that he is lactose-intolerant. Jon-Jon kicks a zombie corpse that has an unexploded bomb strapped to it.
A regular LAPD police officer tries to help a man trashing around on the ground while all around him UTF officers shout for him to stand back. One zombie bite later and we have another illustration why Genre Blind people should stay away from the Valley.
Too Much Information: When Stubeck rescues Kirsten from her boyfriend, who had not told her that he was a werewolf, she complains that he had the nerve to ask her if it was hertime of the month. Stubeck promptly explains that he has no wish to hear about her time of the month in this or any other situation.
Turn in Your Badge: When Kirsten eventually tells Captain Dashell the truth about the GBGB parties Dashell, while running out of the station in a rage, orders her to put her badge and gun on his desk; she is fired.
Vampires Are Rich: Rico, the vampire throwing the lavish parties that Kirsten infiltrates undercover, seems to be barely out of his teens. When Kirsten asks how he can afford all of it she is told that his father is a "big deal."
Vampires Are Sex Gods: Vampires can give what is called a "black kiss," where they produce a narcotic in their saliva and transfer it to another person through a kiss. Vampires have been known to sell this kiss in exchange for a blood donation, in at least one case setting up a small harem of women. Some humans even want to become vampires because of how great the sex will be.
Vampire Wannabe: The parties that Captain Dashell's niece goes to are filled with wannabes looking to get a buzz from kissing a vampire and, eventually, be turned into a vampire. They see it as cool and impressive, Kirsten sees it as insane.
Vegetarian Vampire: Natalie, after revealing that she has been partially turned into a vampire, explains that the process apparently will not be complete until after her first kill. She says she could never kill anybody, then emphasizes that she really means that; she cannot even bring herself to kill a moth.
Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Carla reasonably points out that while Kirsten combat moves are nice, she would save herself a lot of trouble and effort if she would shoot first instead of chasing down things that want to eat her.
Weakened by the Light: Vampires have a vulnerability to sunlight and members of the UTF carry ultraviolet lights to use against them. These are termed "U.V. Guns," but John calls them an "Uv gun."
"Well Done, Son" Guy: It seems that Billy looks up on his partner, Stubeck, as a mentor and father figure. In "Zombie Fights" he resents when Stubeck unintentionally takes credit for his idea, and eventually admits that he is looking for appreciation of the work he does and respect as a cop.
Episode 8 closes with vampires attempting to kill Carla and using a zombie to bomb a convenience store, all to send a message to the UTF that they (The vampires) are stronger and are the ones who are really in charge of the San Fernando Valley.
The season finale ends with the UTF and the Vampires about to make peace, and maybe bring a little order to the chaos. Then what appears to be a freaking demon kills the head Vampire and disappears into the streets. The UTF discovers that there are worse things out there than what they have seen so far.
And then the series got cancelled.
Wild Teen Party: Natalie, Captain Dashell's niece, goes to a GBGB party and he has Kirsten follow her to make sure she is not getting into trouble. Kirsten learns that GBGB stands for "Give Blood, Get Buzzed," which refers to the practice of giving blood to a vampire and receiving a "black kiss," a narcotic contained in vampire saliva.
Worth It: When the UTF discovers that their ammunition has been stolen in the middle of a zombie siege, Captain Dashell instructs them to make sure every single shot counts. Carla, annoyed by the continuous beeping of a smoke detector, wastes a precious bullet to end the noise. She comments that it was worth it.
Worthy Opponent: At the funeral for the two LAPD officers that were killed in the tenth episode, Captain Dashell is approached by the leader of the vampires, whose son the UTF had killed. The vampire pays his respects to the two slain officers and invites Dashell to attend the funeral of his own son as a gesture of respect and potential opening to peace negotiations.
You, Get Me Coffee: Kirsten has been sent to check on Captain Dashell's niece at a party and to check to make sure all werewolves are complying with local ordinances on full moon lock-down, despite joining the UTF specifically to deal with the supernatural monsters infecting the valley and possessing the combat skills to defeat zombies and werewolves with her bare hands.
Also deconstructed to an extent. The reason she gets invovled with the GBGB thing? It gives her a chance to DO something!
Your Head Asplode: It turns out vampires can control zombies, and can also cause their heads to explode at will.
You Were Trying Too Hard: Captain Dashell only correctly pronounced Kirsten's name, after trying for five episodes, when he was too busy with paperwork to notice what he was saying.
Zombie Gait: The characters discuss the way zombies move. Zombie's that have been dead for a long time are termed "slow walkers," since their rotting bodies means they move in a slow, shuffling manner. Newly-dead zombies, however, are described by the officers as being like attack dogs, since they are fresh enough to run at a frightening pace.
Zombie Infectee: Unlike most zombie stories, those who are bitten by zombies are killed immediately in order to prevent the further spread of the virus. All zombie victims have either been shot immediately by the officers, or have asked to be killed so as not to become a zombie, including other police officers and members of the camera crew filming the story.