Tales from the Cultural Wilderness - Journal

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2011-02-10 Entry: "Demons - "They Bite""

And a British entry in the "vampire" theme, Demons was a thankfully shortlived show from 2009 that was an attempt at doing a Buffy-esque show in the UK...

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 (shiny 1080i HD... although again, it's that ridiculous i that UK shows seem to be determined to use).
Audio: Stereo (and oddly muffled stereo at that, I had to crank the sound up quite high to get everything audible).

Luke Rutherford - Christian Cooke
Ruby - Holliday Grainger
Rupert Galvin - Philip Glenister
Mina Harker - Zoe Tapper

We open with a woman getting attacked by a small creature - looks a bit like a gremlin - in her office at night; the Gremlin leaps out the window and hides in the cloak of a pallid guy with sharp teeth... vampire? We don't know. We do know the girl is dead, and someone with a daft American accent is investigating the death ahead of the police. Apparently it was a high school, and there's an important pupil there...

Cue important pupil, in bed. The guy with the daft American accent is going through his fridge. His name is Rupert Galvin, and he makes a mean omelette. The boy's mother, Jenny, knows him - he's an old family friend who's been out of touch, and the boy, Luke, has plenty of questions about him. Rupert, it appears, is Luke's godfather.

Rupert wants to know if Luke sees things in the corner of his eye that aren't there. He also wants to spend the evening with him - Luke would prefer to go to a party - and Rupert keeps throwing things at his head; this time a letter that he isn't allowed to open until he gets home, and a piece of advice - "They Bite". There's some photos inside of him as a baby, along with an old one listed on the back with "Abraham V-H". Oh, and the gremlin thing appears to be in his apartment...

Luke appears to spend all his time without a shirt on. This doesn't improve the quality of the storytelling, but I suppose it must distract a segment of the audience from it. Luke catches the gremlin just before his girlfriend shows up, but it's chewed its way out of the bin he trapped it in. Oh, and mysterious cloaked guy is standing on a nearby rooftop watching him (in daylight).

Luke meets Rupert at a concert, where a very talented, but blind, pianist is performing. The pianist, Mina Harker, knows Rupert. Oh, and she's conveniently psychic, getting flashes of various images when she touches Luke's hand. She gives him a locket from around her neck and sends him on his way. Rupert is a "warrior"... as were Luke's father and Abraham... they fight freaks and inhumans, supernatural beings and different species, and something about the half-life.

They don't name the inhumans, they just grade them and smite them... like the wrath of god. So there aren't exactly any "vampires" then? The V-H stands for Van Helsing... apparently Bram Stoker stole their family name (and Luke going by Rutherford is because it's his mother's name). Okay, so there are rivers underneath a famous London meat market - there are also lots of tunnels and a rat which can get fried by Rupert's pulse gun; anything up to a type 7 can be fried by one (the gremlin is a type 3). The locket gives him the combination to a mysterious door although at first it flashes so fast that he can't see it. And then we get the hidden lair... Or the Libary of Abraham Van Helsing... or The Stacks.

I'll admit, it's a very pretty CGI set, but we're supposed to be focused on Luke's father - who left a videotape for him telling him everything in the library is his and he should use it wisely. His father was killed by the freaks and Rupert was there. Luke's mother doesn't know anything about it. And clearly someone's hunting Luke. He's the last Van Helsing and he has little choice but to start "fighting and smiting". But obviously, he'd rather chase his girl...

The girlfriend, Ruby, gets approached by the mysterious guy in cloak and Luke goes to save her, but there are also three guys with silly bear makeup and reasonable martial abilities. Luke does a reasonable job with two milkcrates and a metal pipe, but after running the three henchmen off, the cloaked guy puts in an appearance. Rupert shows up to smite the gremlin thing, but the cloaked guy gets away. The henchmen were type 4s and the cloaked guy is a type 5, so clearly they're reporting to someone.

Mina and Ruby hit it off like a house on fire... assuming you've soaked in it gasoline first! Ruby's against Luke going to the Stacks with Mina, but he decides to go anyway, and Ruby's packed off home. Luke gets a strange gun with magic ammo that vapourises freaks. Rupert shows a slightly softer side by giving Ruby a number to call day-or-night if anything happens. Which is good, as she may need that number sooner than they think. Creepy cloaked guy has been in the lift in her building.

Of course, the phone number would have been much more useful if Rupert hadn't been out of the car getting a hot-dog when she called! Luke thinks he and Ruby are just friends but Mina's clearly seen the truth of it; he's still not sure he wants Ruby involved in all this "fighting and smiting" business. We get the requisite hostage call from Ruby telling Luke where he should meet them... and not to bring Rupert. Oh, and finally, the villain - he moves really fast, but he's got a very silly haircut and a beaked plastic nose... and he monolgues like the best of them. His name is Gladiolus Thripp, which should tell you everything you need to know about him!

According to Mina (via her psychic ability) and Rupert, Thripp is a type 12 bounty hunter. So who's he collecting a bounty for? Luke's got the bear-faced guys following him again, and a decoy in Ruby's chair leads to Thripp having the magic gun. Rupert shows up and finds his gun doesn't work on Thripp, but Thripp can fly, and he's got some sort of banshee scream thing going on. Luke gets his magic gun back... and Thripp has Ruby at sharp-fingernail-point. Luckily, the magic gun has no effect on normal people, so Luke shoots Ruby, and then shoots Thripp, who explodes, and they all go home.

So, er, where are the vampires? There's supposed to be a bit about Mina in episode 4 and we have to assume she's got some sort of connection to Dracula, but this episode was particularly vampire-free, especially considering all the "they bite" hints they dropped. So we have no idea what abilities vampires have in this show. We do have lots of other creepy creatures, but as they're never going to be given names, we're pretty much in the dark about them. It's a bit like ghostbusters where Egon would babble on about them hunting a level 12 free-floating phantasm and the audience would have to nod along as if they had any idea what the hell he was on about.

And we have Philip Glenister doing the worst American accent ever; at least when Buffy had people with British accents they cast people who vaguely knew what they were supposed to be doing! Luke and Ruby are "typical teenagers" and therefore we can expect all the usual angsty teen drama that Buffy did so well and this show is sure to botch horribly. And we have Mina Harker, who I'm sure is blind just so she can get away with staring at nothing and looking completely blank-faced.

Fortunately, there are only 6 episodes of the thing, so we haven't got to put up with too much pain!

Vampire Checklist: Err... what vampires?

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