ITV1 - 10th January 2008 - 7.45pm
Despite a slight improvement from last week's pretty awful start, the problem with this Buffy knock-off is that it continues to suffer from comparisons to far superior shows (this week it's Torchwood's turn and the 'Small Worlds' episode) and being lumbered with Peter Tabern's poor quality scripts. Some of the lines in this week's episode were truly terrible ('the whole enchilada' nonsense and naming the episode after what is in effect a throw away line) and Glenister's attempt at an American accent keeps getting mangled with his Yorkshire brogue. This week, we even get Richard Wilson popping up as a zombie monk version of Gaius from Merlin, clearly wearing the same wig and clearly giving us exactly the same performance. As this is produced by the makers of Merlin, I suspect they saved a few pennies by getting Wilson on a BOGOF basis.
...a comedy driving test sequence
The trouble is also pacing. We spend almost a whole hour waiting for the pay-off, which is the appearance of the demon Gilgamel, and bless him, he does finally arrive and dutifully the visual effects make-up and stunt man give us a pretty good creature, looking like the Gary Oldman bat version of Dracula in Francis Coppola's film, stomping around in an abandoned church. Very atmospheric. Our rubber lipped hero, Luke, then does a bit of kung-fu, plunges a sword into said demon, it explodes, thank you and good night. All done and dusted in under a minute. Can I have my fifty odd minutes back please, ITV? Before this, we are treated to some yawn-inducing dashing about as Luke attempts to, you know, get his work/life balance shit sorted out, fails his driving test (do we really care if he passes?) in a comedy driving test sequence (how my sides ached) and does lots of gym training in the eventuality that he might just, in one episode at least, turn into an action hero.
...for children to tell the truth or just behave they have to be bribed by adults with make-up or X-BoxesWhat strikes you as slightly uncomfortable is where exactly they are pitching this storyline. This is essentially about child abduction and it does a lot of hand-wringing on the sidelines without actually getting in there and getting its hands dirty. The allusion is perfectly clear; 2000 year old demon = dodgy old perv hanging around graveyards and playgrounds tainting the innocent and frenzied paparazzi on parents' doorstep screams the Madeleine McCann case. With a show like Torchwood or, indeed, Buffy, the allusion wouldn't be treated so timidly. Yes, it's prime-time evening viewing but if you are going to try and discuss these themes then jolly well get on with it. Innocence isn't really that well defined here anyway, it seems for children to tell the truth or just behave they have to be bribed by adults with make-up or X-Boxes. The corruption of minors isn't just the lurid fantasy of a demon disguising itself as an angel, its all in the family and a marketing plus point for flogging game consoles.
...doesn't it strike you as odd that a blind woman is running a library
It suffers from similar problems found in Torchwood too but in reverse. In that series the issue is always just how secret can Torchwood be, but at least they work with the authorities at undermining their invisibility to the government and the public. The Smiters of Demons just seem to turn up and have the power to instill trust in anyone and ask them lots of personal questions. Not a police officer in sight, either. Galvin and Co just barge in, it seems. When they do, doesn't it strike you as odd that a blind woman is running a library. Mina Harker seems to have no trouble popping up the library steps and filing several volumes away in the midst of all of the chat about Gilgamel. Is everything, including the script, covered in braille? Poor Zoe Tapper, it's truly the blind leading the blind. She was really good in Survivors and now she's slumming it in this crap. And I bet Glenister's agent is already on the phone securing his exit by the start of Series 2, if this gets re-commissioned. He is truly unlikeable as the sourpuss Galvin. Christian Cooke is pretty but bland. Emotions hardly register across his face. I was very surprised they didn't have him shirtless in the opening kick-boxing/kung-fu sequence. Perhaps he's fulfilled his contractual obligations there with the overexposure of his nipples in last week's opener.
Naturally, with these types of series there is an attempt at a much bigger story going on and the script, in introducing the antagonism between Galvin and Wilson's Father Simeon regarding the death of Luke's father and Luke's mum getting all trembly-lipped and wailing about Luke turning into his dad, clearly suggests how the six-episode series will end. Galvin will be fingered for the death of Luke's dad. The ITV drama committee and focus groups have obviously been working overtime on Demons by attempting to gene-splice as many popular fantasy series together as possible to get a hit. I'm afraid all they've got is a severe case of indigestion from an insipid, unpalatable drama equivalent of a take-away. And get rid of that irritating, frigging theme song because it instantly announces the poor choice of menu.
Cathode Ray Tube Demons The Whole Enchilada