Sunday, January 11, 2009

Luke warm

It came as no surprise to discover that the production company for the BBC's Merlin and for ITV's Demons was the same. (What with actors playing the same parts in both as well...)

I wanted to like Merlin, it was certainly better than Robin Hood, but in the end I just got bored and wandered away. Demons second episode aired last night, it was agonising. There was nothing wrong with the plot but the fundamental of good story writing was missing: I didn't care about the characters.

Comparisons with Buffy are inevitable, but since Buffy was highly successful and (usually) a joy to watch, while Demons isn't (the latter and won't be the former at this rate) let's have a look at why (all my opinion, of course).

Where is the conflict? I'm not talking about the obvious good guys/bad guys conflict. I'm talking about the soul of drama: Dilemma. A character's damned if they do, damned if they don't. And there is a huge amount of opportunity for it in Demons, and it's all wasted.

Buffy was not happy about being the slayer, at the beginning she fought against it. But in Demons? This weird American guy turns up, tells Luke he's the chosen one (descended from the Van Helsings) and he goes "ok". There's a bit of teenage sulk but nothing else. Luke-warm. (See what I did there?)

There is a hint of conflict since Luke's mother doesn't know what's going on and Luke's going the same way as her long-disappeared husband. But the level of her emotion seems to be turned down to "luke warm" as well. If I were her I'd be screaming. I wouldn't let Galvin in the house, and I wouldn't let Luke out of the house unaccompanied. I would be terrified that Galvin would somehow engineer the disappearance of my son as well. On the other hand I would also not want to restrict him, which would cause resentment. Dilemma.

Luke's best friend, Ruby, takes all the weirdness in her stride. She, at least, shows some emotion which is stronger than the "luke-warm" levels of everybody else. And yet: She still has no qualms about being Luke's best friend on the one hand, and the fact that being around Luke is dangerous. Dilemma.

Galvin is almost completely one-dimensional: he's in it to kill the half-lives. But he could have dilemma as well. He has seen his best friend disappeared by the demons, and now he has to put his best friend's son in the same position. And he should be doing this because of a sense of duty to protect the world from demons. Or indeed anything, maybe something more complicated, but just something would be nice. Dilemma.

These characters do not behave in any realistic way, therefore I cannot identify with any of them, therefore I don't care about them.

Then there are the stupidities: Galvin's accent, using silly archaic language when confronting demons "I will smite you", not using the Internet to look up things. (In Buffy even when Willow became uber-powerful she still used the Web, she just didn't touch the keyboard.) Mina could apparently see Gilgamel in the church, but had to ask "has it gone" barely a minute later. And finally the supposed martial arts thing where Luke is somehow quicker than your average human: this is to justify the fact that he's actually completely unnecessary. Galvin is perfectly capable of taking out the demons. The supposed use of that martial art was also in this episode, but it was rubbish.

Interestingly, it was reported in The Stage this week that Sally Wainwright, writer of "At Home with the Braithwaites" and more recently "Unforgiven", is to take over creative control of Robin Hood to rework it. So perhaps there is hope for Demons.

I wish they'd get it right, surely it's not that hard?

As far as my own stuff goes I've done a rough outline of Unit X, which I will probably tighten up on the train this afternoon - it's coming out quite nice. Hopefully I'll be going to script in the next few days.

Happy Sunday everybody.

What's on the turntable? Nuffink.

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