Some news just in:

ITV will not be recommissioning Demons it seems. Here now, dry your eyes.

According to that ever reliable comic, The Sun, the producers have thrown in the towel because Philip Glenister decided not to return for a second series. And ITV's money troubles must also be affecting which dramas get re-commissioned and with Demons costing a small fortune and achieving rather meager viewing figures and poor critical reaction, then it does seem inevitable that a second series of an expensive flop is not on their 'to do' list.

But then again, it's terribly defeatist if you cancel a show based on the fact that one actor isn't returning. Pity they didn't use my suggestion...turn it into Mina Harker - Vampire Detective.

However, some very good news for Being Human fans. Series 2 has been commissioned for a further eight part run!

According to Digital Spy: 'BBC Three controller Danny Cohen said of the series:

"I'm thrilled that we are recommissioning Being Human. It's hugely popular with young viewers and [has] earned great critical acclaim at the same time. It's also a very improtant staging-post in the successful development of home-grown young drama on BBC Three."

Speaking of possible series two storylines, executive producer Rob Pursey said:

"We already have some very exciting, very dark new stories up our sleeves."

The Guardian has also confirmed this story. The final episode of Series 1 goes out this Sunday. Thanks to Digital Spy, and The Sun.

DEMONS: Episode Six - Nothing Like Nebraska

ITV1 - 7th February 2009 - 7.50pm

It's the finale. You'd think they'd pull the stops out. Just in a last ditch attempt to realise the potential of the format. Go out guns blazing, and all that, wishfully thinking ITV might commission a second series.

Did Galvin top Luke's dad?
No effing fear. Let's just spend forty odd minutes spinning out a truly dull plot involving clowns and mediums. Sorry, didn't we just see this lot in the last series of The Sarah Jane Adventures? And done better on a miniscule budget compared to the devalued pounds lavished on this turkey. We knew what this final episode was going to be about, didn't we. It's been telegraphed for the last six weeks. Did Galvin top Luke's dad? Watching this you'll learn that he didn't really but Mackenzie Crook and his bunch would like the limp Luke to think so in order to get him to kill Galvin. Now, I'll give writer Peter Tabern a bit of credit in actually managing to twist the predictable plot by having Luke murder Galvin under the impression that he killed his father whilst having the father, Jay Van Helsing (Jay, what kind of a name is that) turn out to be a half-life sympathiser. So, by extension, Galvin did leave Luke's father to die in a burning car. Kill the swine!

I guffawed through most of the opening scenes just because Luke uttered an unintentionally hilarious line about a clown hitting him with his balls. My mind wandered to imagining a gay porn version of this episode where a scenario he'd just described certainly wouldn't have been out of place. The trouble with this final episode is that it's too little too late as the creators awkwardly bolt on emotional baggage for Luke and attempt to make us care about the poor lad. Unfortunately, Christian Cooke isn't able to emote properly via the often terrible dialogue he's given. He tries to make us feel for Luke's predicament but I think the audience doesn't give a hoot. Add to this no discernable reason for baddie Gladiolus Thripp to set the two male leads against each other other than offering us a childish view of good versus evil. Why does Thripp do this? Revenge. Boredom.
Mina Harker - Vampire Detective. Coming soon to ITV3

And God help us, not only do we already have Phil Glenister mangling an accent for six weeks but then this script demands he plummet further by attempting an accent upon an accent when he's posing as a fellow medium from the Deep South. They're gluttons for punishment on this show, aren't they? It's a wonder Pauline McGlynn didn't run screaming from the room. She's about the only good thing in this as dotty medium Karen Speedwell and both she and Mackenzie Crook appear to be enjoying themselves far too much. Far more than the viewers who have to sit through plodding emotional heartbreak, zero action (apart from Cooke's boxing workout as part of the 'physical jerks in a black vest' clause in his contract) and Richard Wilson's Father Simeon carking it with a load of CGI flies coming out his gob. The best bit is once again down to Zoe Tapper. Mina knocks back the vampire blood and chews at Thripp's neck which makes him...turn into a puddle. Does anyone know why? Again, credit where it's due, they do end the series on a decent cliffhanger. Mina's turned into a vampire and is off across the rooftops in search of a bite to eat. Brilliant launch pad for the spin-off Mina Harker - Vampire Detective. Coming soon to ITV3

There is nowhere for this to go now. The Stokerisms could well have been the making of the series but a cartload of Buffy, popcorn Hollywood vampire and monster movie tropes, rather insipid lead characters, and castrated plotting have truly knocked the legs from under it. Goodbye Demons.

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DEMONS: Episode Five - Smitten

ITV1 - 31st January 2009 - 7.50pm

Honestly, doing the ironing or the washing up would be less predictable and far more exciting than sitting through this. After the all too brief flare of inspiration last week, it's back to the dross that focus groups suggest ITV should serve up to their target demographics.

...patronising the intelligence of the audience
That means pretty boy meets pretty girl, spends about ten minutes in her company, declares undying love but it must remain unrequited because she is a revenge seeking ancient harpie. And if you didn't pick that up within five minutes of the episode starting then you must have been a) doing the ironing b) the washing up or c) stuck your head down the loo. Talk about the bleeding obvious and patronising the intelligence of the audience.

So Luke pouts and smirks his way through this, uses a terrible chat up routine and ignores advice from the blind colleague, the colleague with the crap American accent and the ugly girl with the mooning eyes. The worst bit of this is when Luke boasts of his martial arts skills to a gang of hoodies harassing the new girlfriend, takes them on and clearly shows that he's shit at said martial arts. And what the hell was nice Daniel Anthony doing in there as one of the yobs. Obviously, a day off from saving the universe at Bannerman Road. Daniel, stick to SJA.

...I say dump him, Glenister and ugly, annoying Ruby and retitle the series 'Mina Harker'.
Even though it was so obvious that the new girlfrend Alice was in fact the ancient harpie out to seduce and kill Luke, I quite liked it as an idea. Unfortunately, the script didn't know what to do with that idea and simply regurgitated the 'defeat the villain of the week' trope that this series is tangled in. There is never enough time to understand the villain, although I'll give them points for at least trying to devote pages of the script to developing the relationship between Luke and Alice, and just as you wait for the idea to get going the 'demon of the week' gets smitten. And I'm not talking of love in this case. No matter how hard Christian Cooke tries, he has as much charisma as a plank of wood. I don't really care about his character and he hasn't wanted to make me care. I say dump him, Glenister and ugly, annoying Ruby and retitle the series 'Mina Harker'.

The other major problem is the lack of dramatic tension. Good direction can do wonders to cover up poor acting and writing. Alas, the series moves at too sedate a pace and then when it does try and do action it is often badly shot (the kung fu with the hoodies was cranked up horribly and smothered in pop music) and choreographed. The effects are good and the harpie was briefly quite thrilling, although the director shied away from a really good girl into monster transformation scene. You end up with 45 minutes of wallpaper with a couple of interesting scenes occasionally disrupting the somnambulist flow of pretty images.

Last episode next week and it looks like Gladiolus Thripp, whom I suspected wasn't dead as Mackenzie Crook has been in tons of the publicity, is going to reveal to Luke that Galvin killed his father. And that was in the trailer and we'd all guessed it weeks ago. What are they going to fill the other 44 minutes with I wonder?

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DEMONS: Episode Four - Suckers

ITV1 - 24th January 2009 - 7.45pm

This is such a frustrating series. Lucy Watkins' script is half-decent, certainly the best one we've had so far, and she finally goes for the one thing that the series has definitely lacked so far; characterisation. And she deals a winning hand by taking the only decent character in the series, Mina Harker, and gives us back story, emotional motivation and positions the woman in a moral limbo. Mina, if you already hadn't guessed, is the Mina Harker from the Bram Stoker novel and Watkins logically develops the character from the book - she did get infected by Dracula' blood, she did have a son called Quincey - and spins a rather sad tale out of her desperation to save her son from the horrors of the First World War. To do so, she makes him a vampire and this week's episode primarily concerned the return of her prodigal son. What solidifies the drama are the two flashbacks to the war when Mina visits her son in a hospital as he dies. It adds dimension to a background that we kind of suspected in the first place.

the story dumps the feral nature of such creatures
Revived to the strains of AC/DC, Quincey prowls around London, attempting to persuade his 'half-life' mother to join him. Ciaran McMenamin is obviously channelling Spike from Buffy but does turn in a rather charming performance and a good chemistry is established between him and an exceptional Zoe Tapper. What's lacking is some genuine neck-biting! Quincy is a bit of a lame vampire - posing as a doctor to drain old patients dry in a blood donor clinic - and he smoulders wonderfully but, along with the traditional means of seeing off blood suckers, the story dumps the feral nature of such creatures. And he has a side kick, Zippy, who can unzip his head. What exactly is the purpose of this? Sure, it makes for rather a daft bowling match, but is that how Zippy threatens people - by throwing his head at them?

He needs to be kicking ass and not sitting on it.
What also spoils these intriguing and engaging developments is the presence of Luke and Ruby. The series is clearly not benefiting from their presence and both Christian Cooke and Holliday Grainger remain irritating and one dimensional. Ruby's function seems to be to get one over on Galvin and bitch at Mina and Luke just simply seems to train at fighting and forget all his moves when it comes to the real deal. He points guns, pouts prettily and that's the lot. There are hints from Quincey that Galvin certainly has something to do with the death of Luke's father but like Mina's true nature, we kind of guessed that from day one. Galvin now seems to mutter his way through each episode in his mid-Atlantic strangulated accent and actually does very little apart from blunder in to each situation and get captured. There's no sense of this man having real power, of being a threat to the various beasties that roam the city. He needs to be kicking ass and not sitting on it. Again, poor old Glenister goes through the motions but doesn't seem to be able to imbue Galvin with any depth.
all the characters assume they've been funny and laugh their socks off
The story moves along slowly and as it isn't about smiting creatures every five minutes a younger audience may well have been bored senseless by now. The reveal in the final act, that Quincey is Mina's son and she is a vampire who dampens her urges by treating her own blood, is worth waiting for. It seemed reasonable that to get Galvin and Ruby out of a sticky situation she would need to become a vampire to fight her own son. This leads to quite a good action sequence, a first for Demons as much of the action to date has been badly shot and choreographed, and I liked the fact that she can see in her vampire state. Bet she was glad she clapped eyes on Luke and Ruby, then. But again, it's another facet to her character that adds interest and is reasoned out. I didn't like all that nonsense about only vampires being able to kill vampires - it simply pisses all over established lore for no logical reason - and humans using living DNA to kill them just seems a very silly way to dispatch them. Stick to stakes and garlic - far more potential for drama. The death of Quincey is quite sad but then it's back to the 'stacks' for some light-hearted banter and a toe-curling conclusion where all the characters assume they've been funny and laugh their socks off. Didn't know it was a comedy.

Best episode so far then but the series has some very serious problems - two uninspiring young leads saddled with irritating roles, an experienced actor who has misjudged his playing of a central role, thin plotting and poor guest villains. It has to try much harder.

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DEMONS: Episode Three - Saving Grace

ITV1 - 17th January 2008 - 7.40pm

'Galvin, I don't like this!' shouts Mina Harker half way through tonight's episode. Never a truer word was said in jest. I don't like it either, love. This week the producers are obviously trying to explore our characters further and the focus is on Galvin, out for revenge against wife-murderer Tobias Tibbs, and on Ruby, erstwhile emo-girl companion to Luke who has a widdle liddle cwush on him. Oh, wake up love and smell the coffee. You are surplus to requirement. And just as we heave a sigh of relief that the writer Lucy Watkins has decided to ditch her, she then contrives a whole plot around her being marvellous and defusing a bomb.

...she has plenty of time as the bomb has a ridiculous 45 minute countdown
Actually, she's useless at defusing bombs because whilst the audience is screaming at her to cut the bloody wires or chuck the thing in the river, she has to go and look up how to cut wires on a bomb in a book. And it takes her half an hour to realise that there is actually a bomb ticking away next to the prone body of Mina. That said, she has plenty of time as the bomb has a ridiculous 45 minute countdown. Why doesn't Tibbs kill Mina there and then? Or chuck petrol over the place and set it on fire? It's utter nonsense.

The best thing about this episode is Kevin McNally as Tobias Tibbs. Despite scant screen time, he chews the scenery and spits it back out in the faces of Glenister, Cooke and Grainger. There you feckless lot, that's how to act in a piece of nonsense like this. And that's even whilst he's wearing rat prosthetics and a tail. He's great as the villain and makes a rather obvious plot just that little bit better. There is now a danger that the guest villains are beginning to make the regular ensemble cast look a bit rubbish. Glenister is still mangling an accent. Tell me Phil, which part of America, South London or Yorkshire do you come from again? Cooke is still wearing his shop window dummy expression, tight black vests and pretending he's good at kung-fuing those doggy monsters who look like hoodies. I mourn for Zoe Tapper's career as she's good as Mina, and Holiday Grainger just needs a slap.

Shoot, or should I say, shit.
The plot, what there is of it, is thin. Galvin seeks revenge on Tibbs for the death of his wife, gets lured into rescuing the nasty Grace (geddit eh, 'saving Grace', eh) who then clubs Mina to the ground (best bit, actually) and lets Tibbs into the Stacks (stacks of books, library, yeah...geddit) who then tries to blow it up whilst Galvin and Luke fall into his sewer trap. I'll tell you what, those are the cleanest, prettiest sewers I've ever seen. Has London council decided to light up their sewers in bright hues of blue and green without telling us? And the water looks very clean. I was hoping to see more turds bobbing about in the water but then realised that Galvin and Luke were already doing that. Shoot, or should I say, shit. And the water levels had a very strange knack of raising and lowering between shots. Cooke did look quite sexy, I'll admit, drenched in water.

Watkins script squanders the various opportunities to make this interesting. The sense of not caring about Galvin's wife is the major problem here. She's a character we've never seen and the script just doesn't provide us with enough to actually understand Galvin's revenge. There's a line here and there and a bit more exposition in the flooding cell sequence but I didn't have much sympathy for him. And enjoyable as the Tibbs character was, we got precious little again to go on. There's a juicy intimation that he's a rat that experiments on humans. Well then, bloody well show us. The series is way too timid for its timeslot and the producers don't know if they are aiming this at young kids, teenagers or adults. I would say if their aim is for a family audience then they are way off target.

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DEMONS: Episode Two - The Whole Enchilada

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-Boxes
What 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.

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DEMONS: Episode One - They Bite

ITV1 - 3rd January 2009 - 7.45pm

The debut of ITV's new fantasy drama Demons was utterly eclipsed tonight by the furore and hype around Matt Smith's casting as the eleventh Doctor and so this first episode has struggled to get its head above the water. And what soppy helpings did we indeed get?

Sadly, a re-hash of Buffy-The Vampyre Slayer mixed with a bit of The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Essentially, Luke Rutherford is your average teenager (if indeed average is being stunningly gorgeous and gratuitously walking round with his shirt off for not one but two scenes) – until his dead father's best friend, Rupert Galvin, turns up. Galvin has come to tell Luke his secret destiny: he's the real-life great-grandson of Abraham Van Helsing, the vampire hunter in Bram Stoker's Dracula. Luke is set to inherit the family mantle as a warrior against the supernatural entities swarming the earth.

...a pretty dire American accent that keeps vanishing in the vicinity of Yorkshire

So, Luke is a male Buffy played by luscious lipped Christian Cooke who is very easy on the eye and just about scrapes together a performance by the end of this, and Rupert Galvin (again another steal from Buffy, an American protector, rather than an Englishman, with access to a big library) is played by Philip Glenister. Oh, dear. Phil is doing a pretty dire American accent that keeps vanishing in the vicinity of Yorkshire and I have to say he's bloody awful in this and is dished out some utterly excruciating lines so it isn't entirely his fault. And the lighting makes him look like someone's taken a shovel to his face and I know he's not conventionally handsome but he often has some charm. He's not even left with that here. They've deliberately made him look ugly. Zoe Tapper gets a cough and a spit as blind pianist Mina Harker who basically has the key to the Van Helsing vault and access to all the cool weapons that make demons explode into pretty purple clouds. might cut yourself on one of Christian's very prominent nipples

The worst bit, in a mindlessly calculating, 'oh, that's a clever idea' (not) is to play Kaiser Chiefs 'Ruby' on the soundtrack because Luke is frantically searching for his kidnapped girlfriend and her Ruby. In fact, strike that. She's not his girlfriend because she's not pretty enough next to the full-on male whore that is Christian Cooke and is likely to become this series token lesbian in yet another rip-off of the Buffy format. Careful, you might cut yourself on one of Christian's very prominent nipples. He gets them out often enough. The opening attack in the hospital is quite amusing, especially when the secretary goes into the office and finds a little demon shredding confidential documents. That's a nice touch. Then we get the rotten titles with that grating theme song and it all goes a bit wrong. It's a shame really because I actually prefer the demons to the heroes in this. Red Lips looks like he's wandered out of The Mighty Boosh and that ain't no bad thing. There's an oddness that's entertaining. Mackenzie Crook basically steals the first episode as the villain Gladiolus Thripp, complete with 1950s lounge lizard look and a stonking great false nose and seems to be the only character in the script that, you know, is a proper character with witty lines and shit.

Fluffy - the Vampyre Slayer
So, Luke has to take on the mantle of Slayer, juggling this with homework and trying not to let on to his mother whilst Galvin/Giles calls on him to fulfill his destiny as the last of the Van Helsings. Joss Whedon better sue. Bits of this might have made an interesting series and even this first lacklustre script might have been enough to get some interest going but it's so anaemically directed that it kind of floats in front of you for 45 minutes like a soap bubble that threatens to burst at any second. It's more like Fluffy - the Vampyre Slayer. The fights aren't particularly well directed and much of everything lacks verve and energy. Some nice London locations will help sell this overseas, no doubt. Granted this is just an opening episode but they're going to need to get creative with the format very soon judging by this flimsy effort. I don't think Matt Smith has anything to worry about come 2010.

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DEMONS: Preview and Trailers 1 & 2

ITV continues to catch the fantasy genre bug with its new supernatural show Demons. Originally shot with the working title of The Last Van Helsing ITV are promising a high-octane contemporary twist on the Dracula legacy, set above and beneath the streets of London. Scheduled for the Winter season 2009, this is six x 60 minutes episodes starring the very wonderful Philip Glenister, Christian Cooke, Zoe Tapper, Holliday Grainger and Mackenzie Crook.

Glenister plays Rupert Galvin, a larger-than-life American with a tragic past and a zero-tolerance policy to the rabble of mythical “half-life” entities that exist all around us. When he bursts into the life of his teenage godson, Luke (Cooke), whose father died in mysterious circumstances 15 years before, little does Luke know what will be thrust upon him. There are supernatural forces at work and it is Luke’s destiny, as the last descendent of the Van Helsing line, to smite the half-lives that stalk our streets.

While trying to juggle an ordinary life of school exams, parties and learning to drive – not to mention keeping it all from his mum – Luke is catapulted into a world of vampires, demons and zombies, along with his best friend Ruby (Grainger). But he remains cool – it’s in his blood after all…Helping Galvin to train Luke in his quest is the beautiful but ice-cold Mina Harker (Tapper) a blind concert pianist with a history, who is also the foremost authority on the undesirable entities preying on humanity.

But before they have time to properly prepare Luke, he is faced with a daunting opponent in the form of the villainous Gladiolus Thrip (Crook) a sinister vampire with a burning hatred for the Van Helsing line and all they stand for.

Trailer 1 (under its old Van Helsing title) is here:

Trailer 2, from the ITV New Horizons site:

Demons is made by Shine Productions, the producers behind BBC's Merlin series. It's featured in the ITV1 promotional brochure for the forthcoming season that you can find here

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