Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Demons: Smitten (episode 5)

The fact that I've only got around to watching this yesterday when it was shown on Saturday should indicate that I'm not excitingly eager and keen to see this. I mean, it's okay but I'm not sitting here desperately wanting to know what happens next and looking forward to next week's episode. Demons is better than a lot of stuff on TV but only just.

I think there are two problem areas with this show.

The first is the problem that often hampered Merlin and that was the monster-of-the-week format. Some creature turns up, causes problems, the good guys defeat it and everything is reset back to the beginning. Merlin at least had Nimueh as a recurring villainess. Demon doesn't have any connection between each episode nor does it have any real overarching plot.

The second problem is that it takes itself too seriously. There isn't enough comedy or amusing one-liners to contrast with the grimness. Buffy had its funny moments and good scripting. Even the premise was humorous and ironic - a small, blonde, slightly dippy and vacuous valley girl (called Buffy, of all names!) is actually a strong, powerful slayer of gruesome monsters. You don't get any of that irony with Demons and any witty dialog in the show tends to fall flat.

Anyway, this week it seems like they were dragging up young actors from CBBC. Clyde (from the Sarah Jane Adventures) turned up as a thug and Mysti (from the Mysti Show) was this week's monster-of-the-week, Alice. The fact that she was this week's bad guy was obvious after she'd spoken more than a few lines. And, considering the week before a giant flying creature was shown in the preview, it wasn't difficult to guess that Alice would change into this 'harpy' (well, my wife didn't guess it until the point that Alice actually started to change, so perhaps it wasn't that obvious).

The writers could have put a twist in the story. They could have made us think that Alice was the monster and then, near the end, reveal that she wasn't after all. They could have had Luke regretfully smite Alice only to find out the harpy was someone else, or Alice's 'pet', or her sister/mother/child. Or perhaps have Alice realise that she was wrong to try and kill Luke - because Luke wasn't the one who killed her sisters - and thus leave the gang with a moral quandary. Should they kill the repentant half-life or let her go (or even join them - Mina's a sort of vampire after all)?

But no. In the end, Mysti - I mean, Alice - is a half-life and therefore evil. She's trying to kill Luke. So they smite her. There's no real grey area. And next week, it'll be back to smiting the next monster-of-the-week. Although it appears we find out the obvious "revelation" that Galvin was involved in Luke's father's death.

Having said all that, there are moments that are entertaining. Galvin very occasionally gets in a pithy and amusing line (albeit said in that dodgy American accent). The action's good but there should be more. The effects - such as Alice's transformation and the harpy itself - aren't bad for an early evening show. It's not a bad show, just nowhere near as good as it could be (and not as good as BBC3's urban-horror-fantasy show, Being Human). I had hoped that Demons would improve from episode to episode but this hasn't been the case. And time has run out because next week's episode - "Nothing Like Nebraska" - is the last in the series.

Grade: Good.

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