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36 of 42 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining drivel, but..., 13 Mar 2009
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This review is from: Demons: Series 1 [DVD] [2009] (DVD)
...Demons could have been far better than in fact it was. No, it's not supposed to be a heavyweight drama -anything where you have a line that remarks 'I shall surely smite thee you freak' is not exactly going to trouble Shakespeare. Demons is a bit of escapist fun, pure and simple, where you park your brain in neutral for a hour, and get on with the serious business of slaughtering various supernatural entities on a mass scale. However, even keeping that in mind, it still wasn't all that it should have been.

The premise of a 'last Van Helsing' (that being, I believe, its provisional title during filming) is a reasonable one, and it certainly gives a wide scope to the writers. Take one teenage college / schoolboy, who's father died when he was a baby in mysterious circumstances. Cue appearance of odd Godfather, who informs him he's descended from Abraham Van Helsing, of Dracula fame, and that his destiny, once he's been trained up a bit, is to give a variety of demonic presences a damn good thrashing. In this task he will be assisted by his pretty, vivacious best friend, Ruby, who happens to have a crush on him which he has completely failed to notice, and a staggeringly beautiful, cooly flirtatious blind concert pianist named Mina Harker, who subsequently turns out to be (surprise!) the same Mina Harker from Dracula; now a 150 year old immortal half-blood vampire forced to clense her blood of the curse upon her by regular dialysis. Mina's blindness is in fact a consequence of her refusing to surrender to the curse in her veins, and therefore a direct choice on her part, for not only does she regain her sight should she drink blood, in a further twist clearly plundered from Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (and why not?), her long-fanged side would [re]assert itself and she would become the most powerful vampire on Earth. As she demonstrates twice in the course of the series.

Not a bad starting point then. Unfortunately, thereon in, things start to go pear-shaped, as tragically, the stories and scripts were what let Demons down. On occasion, an interesting idea would emerge, but sadly, they, along with the characters, remained largely undeveloped. The nagging impression was that the series was something of a rush-job; a good initial idea in search of some decent stories. A shame, because the basic idea behind it was fine, and if it had a real strength (and it does), it lies in the excellent quality of the four leads.

Philip Glenister usually gives a good performance, and what he gives in Demons is no exception. His American accent was not quite as bad as some have suggested, and he does bring some depth to his performance, as far as the scripts and stories allow (sadly, not very far). Christian Cooke had probably the most thankless role in the series, despite his character of Luke Rutherford being nominally the central figure, as by nature, the young, demon-smiting novice is rather overshadowed by Glenister's older, jaded mentor / Godfather. His character, in dialogue terms, also pales compared to the catty give and take between the two female leads. He clearly did what he could with what he had to work on however. Holly Grainger proved impressive, she has a very nice presence indeed on camera, being natural and eminently watchable. Although again, her character had little depth, she also did an excellent job with what she had.

Zoe Tapper however, as Mina Harker, effortlessly stole the show (although that was undoubtedly not her intention), and those episodes that centred upon her were the pick of the bunch. Inherently, Mina was by far the most interesting character, as she was the only one who had any depth, while Zoe herself is one of the finest young actresses I have seen for some years. She managed to squeeze more out of the mediocre scripts / dialogue she had to work with than anyone had any right to expect, while her verbal rivalry with Ruby, and downright purred put-downs (probably the best written things in the series) were a weekly highlight. All of these actors, along with guests Richard Wilson and Mackenzie Crook (loved the beak), deserved so much more to work with in material than they recieved.

The series direction was sporadic; sometimes quite atmospheric, sometimes laboured & contrived; however, the effects were good, some of the camera work was imaginative, and they'd clearly spent some money on the sets.

So, is Demons worth buying? Yes actually. I think so. It's shallow, it's mostly poorly written, but the acting varies from the decent to the excellent, and there are far worse programmes out there. With any luck, they'll get the green-light for a second series. Hopefully however, they'll write some decent stories and scripts for it. The potential is there; anyone can see that. It's just a matter of exploiting it. It would be a real shame if they didn't.
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