Sunday, February 08, 2009

Demons – season 1 – review (TV series)

title screenDirector: various

First aired: 2009

Contains spoilers

Okay, so I was doubtful when I gave my First Impression, believe me the show that had persons smiting supernatural creatures went from worse to worse, episode on episode. All I can say is, thank God its over – pass me the keyboard and let me smite the damn thing already. Bram Stoker, bless your heart, you must be rolling in your grave. BBC (in respect of Torchwood) and Josh Whedon (in respect of Buffy the Vampire Slayer) I hope to God you are talking to your lawyers about suing over this piece of garbage.

Mackenzie Crook as Gladiolus ThripThis is about the last Van Helsing, Luke (Christian Cooke), and as such you would think that vampires play a major role. Think again – there is a vampire in every episode (though we don’t know it until episode 4 out of 6, that is we don’t know it if our brain cells are more corrupted than any claim of originality in this show), the villain from episode one, Gladiolus Thrip (Mackenzie Crook), is also a vampire, though we really would not be able to tell and we get a couple of vampires failing to act like vampires in episode 4. There is no actual vampiric behaviour until the last 2 minutes of the series.

Philip Glenister as RupertTo cover ourselves, when I raise Torchwood and Buffy, let me illuminate… take character Rupert Galvin (Philip Glenister, embarrassing himself with the worst dialogue and faux-US accent I have heard for some time). He is the mentor, like Rupert Giles in Buffy. Oh wait Giles was English and he is American – so like anti-Giles… wait a second… initials RG, not just the first name but the initials are the same… The American accent is reminiscent of Captain Jack and the stacks (the not so secret HQ), well it kind of is the hub (from Torchwood) meets the library (from Buffy) but in the sewer (frankly, were it belongs). Luke gets super reflexes etc, a bit like Buffy got Slayer powers, and this makes the show feel less Dracula based and more akin to Van Helsing as a character source.

identity theft or the original and the best?Let me take issue with just how little respect the writers of this had for the source material. Now, understandably, I am a little defensive of the novel Dracula. In episode 1 the writers distanced themselves, when Luke protested that he was not related to a character from a novel and Galvin stated “Identity theft, Bram Stoker stole your name.” This fairly much poo-poo’d the novel, especially as Galvin claims that Jonathon Harker was the original Van Helsing’s assistant rather than his character in the book, and yet in episode 4 Galvin gives the book to Luke; the original and the best, he then claims.

Mina uses dialysis to control her urgesThat is our vampire episode though anyone who hasn’t realised that Mina Harker (Zoe Tapper) must be a vampire is obviously not well versed in the Dracula story, given that she is a main character from the novel. Why she would be blind is beyond me – when she vamps out she can see, otherwise she is blind, the programme does not state why – but the fact that she looks in her 30s when she would be over 100 gives the game away. She represses her vampire tendencies with dialysis it seems.

Holly Grainger as RubySo Galvin has given Luke a copy of ‘Dracula’ and he passes it to Ruby (Holly Grainger) to read and she, like Luke, asks whether they should just watch the film. Now before we continue with the disrespect the writers showed Dracula let me just mention how poor a character Ruby (named solely so a certain song by the Kaiser Chiefs could be used in episode one, it seems) was and how badly acted – though maybe it wasn’t entirely the actress’ fault as her dialogue was so consistently poor. Anyway, having claimed it to be boring she eventually reads said book. Ruby then accuses Mina of being a slapper (UK colloquialism for a slut). Now, I know that Mina was bitten – so assaulted and victimised spring to mind. Stoker, who clearly cared for the character, may have been adding, on a Freudian level, sexuality in respect of the vampire bite and, as such, she was also raped. That does not make her a slapper and the fact that the writers would intimate such… well, enough said.

Ciarán McMenamin as Quincey HarkerOne thing I did like was the fact that the bad vampire was Quincey (Ciarán McMenamin) – not Morris but Harker, the son of Mina and Jonathon – except, just how bad was he? For something that needed to be killed, he attacked no-one for their blood but set up a bogus blood collection van, he had Ruby in his grasp and gently tried to persuade her round and let her go rather than just kill her outright and all he wanted was… well here he became bad as he wanted Mina’s blood, as she had Dracula’s blood, so he could become all powerful, except… well she turned him, using her blood to do so, and so he already had it.

aging having been injecteed with his own living DNAKilling vampires took a few none compatible twists and turns. Thrip is killed by a high level half-life killing weapon, quite easily. With Quincey we then discover that only a vampire can kill a vampire – but Mina won’t do it. So Galvin has the plan of getting his DNA, bringing it back to life (with electricity, hmmm... very Frankenstein) and then shooting him with it so that he ages and dies… hmm… that seemed a stretch given that they take in living DNA as a matter of course and why it being their own living DNA would make a difference is beyond me.

turning to blue gooIn the final episode Thrip is back because… well, you know what they didn’t bother to answer that little poser. Was it because of the vampire rules? Galvin didn’t realise that much. Mina kills Thrip by drinking blood, vamping out and biting his neck… at which point he immediately turned into goo, which resolved the issues between the good guys in the episode…except it truthfully resolved bugger all, just killed someone by turning them into blue goo. Actually, killing a character who was played by probably the best actor in the whole thing.

I will not scream with girlish joyYes, my friends, this was a scream a minute and by that I don’t mean screams of girlish joy… oh no… but screams of agony at just how much ITV and the producers do not get the genre they dabbled in. But one fears that it doesn’t matter that they didn’t get the genre, they didn’t get drama full stop. When confronted with a bomb with 15 minutes on the timer how many of us would spend the time reading up (for the first time in your life) on bomb disposal and not either a) risk booby trap to carry it out of harm’s way or b) leg it. I don’t care if it is a supernatural show or a real world drama.

Christian Cooke as LukeAgain, in a bunkum supernatural show sense, let us talk the sword that must be heated to fight a demon with a magic scabbard that retains the heat but allows it to be carried safely. I can live with that… I can’t live with removing it from said scabbard and resting it on forearm, without severe burns, during the fight whilst posing in a faux fighting stance. I could go on, each episode was filled with plot holes, inconsistencies, bad dialogue, derivatives of other shows and moments that defied the viewer's logic thresholds.

I continued to watch this show only for the review, a sense of honour insisted that I couldn’t tell you what I thought about this series unless I had suffered through it in all its endlessly derivative badness. I worried around a score. 1 out of 10 is the lowest I have ever given a series, normally they have a redeeming quality somewhere, and yet I actually think that is generous. The main pleasure this gave me was the wonderful email conversations after each episode as I, and others willing to suffer, put ourselves through the agony of the show week in and week out. Luckily UK shows tend to 6 episodes rather than the US tradition of 22. Please... please… please… do not pick up a second season.

The imdb page is here.


Anonymous said...

I was very disappointed with this series as well. I was a fan of the two seasons of HEX, made by the same crew and I found this to be a let down - they had a great production design and a semi-original premise and maybe 6 eps wasn't enough to tell the story? BEING HUMAN is much better then this and I have high hopes for that show going strong after two episodes. From reading pages about it I don't think it will get renewed as each episode had a gradual decline in viewership. Better luck next time...oh I have to add Rupert's Sam Spade accent and his constant use of 'smite thee' really got on my nerves.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Now, I wasn't a fan of Hex (the first few episodes killed me off) but I know plenty of folks who liked it. I know no-one who liked this.

Being Human is vastly superior, and I... ahem... believe that True Blood is something special. Can't wait until that hits the UK.

Anonymous said...

I've seen the first season of True Blood and it's awesome - I am a fan of the Charlaine Harris novels and I'm up to #8 (#9 gets published in May) and whilst I am a guy AND her novels COULD be regarded as chick-lit they are vastly superior to other 'vampire' novels out there with a modern setting using a human/vampire/P.I/cop/team-up scenario. They are funny and engaging - and just to let you one book = one season. season one is Dead Until Dark, the 2nd series is based on Living Dead in Dallas. each season is 12eps long and since its made by HBO who did Six Feet Under (made by same guy) Deadwood etc, it had HEAPS of nudity and swearing, but then again so do the books - to some degree...

Anonymous said...

I would only stretch to half a point here, and that only for the final shot of the final episode with Mina in full vamp mode and looking... well, nearly convincingly vampish and darkly hot, then I noticed the rodent ulcer on her upper lip again! Argghhh! Tas' ruined me for other vamps, she has. Indeed.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

now, now, Crabstix we shouldn't lower ourselves to insults about appearance... even if a line from Austin Powers kept springing to mind

Gabriel, I've read up to book 5 - really should do some catching up with the series. I wouldn't say it was chick-lit, but it is astounding that put a female protagonist in and/or have a female author and suddenly the book becomes labled as chick-lit

Anonymous said...

They could have CGI'd the bu**er, surely to wats-it-called! It was in danger of being more horrific that any creature the producers provided... but of course, there was the dialogue

Anonymous said...


Well the reason I referred to the series as kinda chick-lit is most of its fans are female and I was comparing it to Anita Blake (who i don't like though its been optioned as a tv series as well) and the Kim Harrison books. I enjoyed Blood Ties and I'm onto the 2nd book (Blood Lines by Tanya Huff) of that series now while I hunt down FROM DEAD TO WORSE (#8), which is elusive, the books must get snatched up now due to the tv show. Anyways Harris' books are better than many in that genre, the countless books with a female protagonist that deals with the supernatural world ala Anita Blake or the Lilith Saintcrow (another awful series) etc...

To be honest too I am a bit of an amateur horror writer when it comes to horror, and it seems females are dominating the genre: you had Anne Rice before she went all Catholic, Poppy Z Brite Charlaine Harris, Kim Harrison, Laurell K. Hamilton etc. I don't really read King and the only male author I hold a candle to is Brian Lumley and his Necroscope books - they are awesome. We need more male authors - don't even get me started on Stephanie Meyer and Twilight etc tho

Taliesin_ttlg said...

lol - Anita Blake TV series... well it is either going to stick to the very early books, be loosely based upon or be produced for the Playboy Channel!

Necroscope are a great series, imho

Anonymous said...

Playboy Channel - yes I heard in the later books Anita spends most of the time on her back bedding all kinds of Supernatural creatures - but that is one of the cons you get when you have a female author writing horror :p

At least the sex in the sookie books is few and far between - tho not in the show!! the sookie books couldnt have been done by any other channel besides HBO

Taliesin_ttlg said...

For a good book series you could do worse than check 13 bullets and it's sequels 99 coffins and vampire zero.

Anonymous said...

I've seen those 3 books you mentioned but just wrote them off into the pile of "Forever Knight/Angel/Moonlight/Blood Ties I work with vampires rip-offs...."

but i'll have a closer look now...

Everlost said...

Ahhh....demons, demons and more demons. The only thing that could have saved this show for me would be the announcement of Demons : The Movie, and a second and third series, just to see what it did to poor mister taliesin who sat through these six episodic piles of poo.

Where do you start with this? possibly at the bomb scene, which has to be something they pinched from an obscure old batman episode i am thinking...shall i set the bomb so it blows up as soon as i am out of range? naaa, lets put 45 mins on it, so even a donut of a follower can learn to disarm it in time...well, ok, not learn to disarm it, she will luckily find a book that says "cut green wires when faced with bombs" - possibly the worst scene i have ever come across, and i include the Shower of Blood vampire dancing to roll out the barrel in that.

Like taliesin said, most of these episodes were so bad they had me wanting to throw my treacle sponge at the telly (and i love my treacle pud)

There are just so many BAD moments in this, it makes you wonder if the writers were evil demons wanting to make the general public suffer...right from the rubyrubyruby song from the kaiser chiefs in the first episode, to the very last climactic scene where we see Mina finally doing the decent thing and being a vamp. "I'll discover the truth!" she proclaims, to resolve a fued between giles...err, galvin and luke. But wait, she just bites the poor cockney demon and turns him into a pile of goo, therefore not finding the truth. but wait, they had the truth on video all along. Oh well...never mind, mina is staying a vamp now, maybe we should do what we have been threatening her with in episodes 3 and 4, if she "turns to the dark side" as it were, we shall grade her and smite thee...oh wait, its the end of the series, lets just leave it at that so we can all be friends.

Like taliesin said, the only good thing to come of this was a very enjoyable series of rants after each episode, and a new low to compare bad vampire material to.

I shall end this rant with my thoughts from episode 3, i think it was, so people who havent seen the series can see just what awaits them should it ever be repeated or shown in the states.

1 - you are a heroic vampire hunter by trade. When looking at shifty henchmen types, who you know to be "half lives" and are lugging a coffin about. would you say..."duh...i cant see anything amiss here...what master? i cant see a master anywhere? vampire? whats a vampire? oh yes, i hunt those for a living. where am i?"

2 - Your teacher tells you "read this...dracula, the original and the best." Do you notice when he hands you something that is quite obviously not even bram stoker, but is instead a trashy vampire novel bought from whsmith for £2.99, and then attempt to predict everything about mina and other vampires based on "i felt her pointy teeth at my throat and shiver went up my spine"

3 - why oh why oh why would vampires be soooo stereotyped as to open a mobile bloodbank in trafalgar square. there are hero's about, that is the first place they would look.

4 - you, the hero cant be arsed to read the trashy novel mentioned above, as it is quite obviously rubbish. Do you continue to take advice that your life may depend on based on afore mentioned trashy novel from your hanger-on, even when she admits she hasnt read it either?

5 - Your teacher comes out with this. "only vampires can kill vampires. you first have to cure their vampirism, and then shoot them. And electrocute them so their bodies arent dead any which point they will get old and die. We need his DNA so we can do some incredible genetic engineering in the next ooo lets say 1 day and produce a vampire killing bullet" Do you, as the hero assume hes gone mad and resign your position, or try and take it all in, and hope that you can forget it all in the end and just shoot the bad guy with a cheap xmas bauble.

6 - you, the vampire bad guy, have the hero's hanger-on, and teacher (who just happens to be trying to kill you yet again) at gunpoint. Do you as the vampire bad guy execute them getting them out of your hair permanently, or do you tie them to a chair to encourage rescue.

7 - you, the hero are on a rescue mission, but have been given the wrong address, and the only person that knows the correct address is refusing to answer. Do you a) stay lost, or b) magically appear at the right address just in time.

8 - you, the vampire bad guy are clearly being followed by the hero's hanger on. she even strays into a "goth" club where you hang out, and where she sticks out like a polar bear on a pile of coal. Do you a) leave, therefore removing the possibility of the hero finding out anything. b) kill the hanger on...infuriating the hero no doubt, but once again removing the possibility of the hero finding anything useful out. or c) talk to the hanger on, let her go and try and make her see life from the vampires point of view, in the process allowing the hero access to your hair so he can do all the DNA / electrocute / shoot / die of old age thing.

9 - and most important of all - you are mina, quoted as "the most powerful vampire there is". Do you hang about with all those muppetts, suffering blindness and having to put up with annoying hanger-on... or do you become the most powerful vampire there is, then kill off the hero, teacher and hanger on. Its not difficult, they barely know what a vampire is after all. Perhaps a simple trap, with a bomb and a timer...they will automatically wait until the timer is at 0.002 seconds, at which point they will cut the green wire because they found a book that said "cut green wires when faced with bombs" All you need do is make the green wire the BOOM wire. Then you live happily ever after and probably go on to rule the world...tough choice?