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Ruby, Hunky (Luke), Rupert and Mina are ready to follow in Joss Whedon's footsteps...

Ruby, Hunky (Luke), Rupert and Mina are ready to follow in Joss Whedon's footsteps...

Just as an update – I’ve been put on an antibiotic regime for the next few days due to pain and possible infection. Hence my being up at 3am while waiting for my painkillers to kick in. Yeouch. Fortunately, it doesn’t appear to be anything serious – just a delayed reaction to watching Go Girls… I kid. But while I wait, I thought I would share a bit of an experience with you all.

So yesterday Nick introduced me to Demons – a British action-monster show created by ITV, apparently in the hopes of competing with the Saturday night family viewing juggernaut of British television, Doctor Who.

Since Doctor Who has gone on a hiatus for this year – only being released as specials rather than a full season this year – ITV must have hoped to capture that market with something attempting to have the same mix of the fantastical and the humourous.

The basic premise of the series is that Luke Rutherford, a typical London teenager, discovers that he is the descendant of Abraham Van Helsing. When his godfather, Rupert (with an inexplicable American accent) shows up and reveals this he also reveals that Luke – unlike other London teenagers – is destined to be a warrior against the Half-lives/Freaks… That he has near supernatural powers of his own via speed and strength as well as a natural inclination towards the martial arts…

Is this beginning to sound a little familiar?

Maybe it would help if I point out that one of the initial encounters with Rupert has him throw a sharp object at Luke, who intuitively catches it in his hand – ala Buffy the Vampire Slayer Movie.

Yes. ITV has created Hunky the Demon Slayer.

 

Edward Cullen, I challenge thee to a pretty boy face off! Hunky (Luke) perfects his pout...

Edward Cullen, I challenge thee to a pretty boy face off! Hunky (Luke) perfects his pout...

You think I jest, but the preternaturally pretty Christian Cooke spends a good part of the first episode wandering around with his shirt off at the smallest provocation. Looking all Abercrombie and Fitch, Luke hunts a little CGI demon in his apartment, shirtless and armed with a mop. It’s all, well, odd to watch.

 

Of course the series is British, and the budget isn’t nearly to the scale of a US show. They have a number of elaborate and expensive CGI shots and sets – which means a smaller cast. So Luke’s friend Ruby ends up pulling double duty as Willow and Xander for the series. She’s the source of the Xander quips and has Willow’s unrequited love, but directed at Hunky. I mean Luke.

Meanwhile there is also the enigmatic Mina Harker, a blind concert pianist who has a few dark secrets of her own and likes to pick on Ruby. She’s very Angelic a character…

Of course there are some differences in the series to it’s “inspirational” source material. But the first episode kind of trundles along and really doesn’t set up a heck of a lot considering it’s a six part series.

Luke learns he’s a hunter. Demon shows up at his home. Ugly Demon Man stalks Luke. Luke accepts that there is something going on. Rupert overacts while showing Luke the way to Van Helsing’s secret HQ – The Stacks. (I kid you not.) Rupert shoots a rat with a hoopy microwave gun just to show that later on he is able to shoot a ray gun at baddies. Luke goes home. More Demons. Ruby and Luke get attacked. Mina is mysterious. Ruby is bitchy. Mina is bitchy. Ruby gets kidnapped. But no Big Bad is hinted at or revealed.

Now don’t get me wrong. This show isn’t bad. And it isn’t as awkward as watching Go Girls was. But, it just isn’t fresh enough in its first episode. There isn’t anything wrong with going for a Buffy-style show with a guy instead of a girl, but at least they could have aimed for a bit more difference and variety. Cribbing entire sequences straight out of Buffy felt less like homage and more like lazy rip-off.

And Rupert. Oh Rupert. Feck off. Something I really hate about Demons is that Rupert is so self-righteous and “we shall smite the enemy” it gets very boring. The show takes the view that all the Freaks are inherently evil and nasty and just need to be smited. End of story. On top of that, Rupert has this ridiculously stupid “Type” category system that, as far as I can make out, has no real measure and is just kind of bandied about to imply the “danger” level of a monster.

I sincerely hope that as the series progresses, that gets turned on its head. Because it really bugged me. I really hate Rupert – he’s obnoxious and, frankly, a prat.

Hunky, I mean Luke, is cute and Christian Cooke certainly does a good job of making him feel like a believable teenager who is learning that his life is not what he thought it was. If only he wasn’t required to take his shirt off so much in the first episode. I mean, I like cute guys without their tops on, but I also like it if it makes sense in the show. Not just the kind of pointless sequence that “Demons” went for.

Having said all that, from the teaser of the second episode, it does look like they have some interesting monsters show up over the course of the show – and it is possible that as it progresses, the series will become more than the first episode implies.

It’s worth checking out – just be prepared for some serious deja-vu.

Conan

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