Friday, June 3, 2011

Flat And Red And Shiny Inside: Welcome To Bizzaro-Sunnydale!

(Note: This is one of ten essays I did for my old LiveJournal prior to my adopting the 10 Statements format. Since most of them are pretty funny, and many of them have some interesting insights still, I'm going to be posting them here. If you want to say it's for 'historical significance,' that's cool.)

Once more, my Netflix queue works in mysterious ways. As I'm working my way through the complete Buffy The Vampire Slayer series, I receive the second of three discs covering the first season of...Hex. Why I didn't get the first disc first I will never know.

What is Hex? Hex is a British series co-produced by Sony which represents the peculiar obsession British television has with finding every possible way to rip off Buffy, something they've been doing since Russell T. Davies patterned the revival of Doctor Who after the Whedon-verse.

(According to Paul O'Brien of If Destroyed, Still True, this isn't the most baldfaced rip-off of Buffy the Brits have produced. That honor goes to ITV's Demons which, among other things, features a mentor figure named...Rupert.)

I would seriously, seriously like to listen in to the pitch meeting for this series. "Well, you know, everyone loves that Vampire Slayer show, right? Well, what if we do something like that and set it in a boarding school 'cause, you know, that would make it exotic to the Yanks, right? We can make the girl a...a WITCH, that's it! Not only a witch, but the latest in a long line of witches, you know, like the Slayers only with magical powers. Besides, they've got a witch on that show, and everyone loves that series with the three hot girls who are witches, what do they call it? That's right...Cursed. And her best friend...well, she can't be a witch anymore, so--I know! We'll have the mysterious boyfriend type kill her so she can be a...a ghost, and the great thing is we can still make her a lesbian like the best friend on that show, and give her a crush on the heroine, and a girlfriend who's also a ghost! And that boyfriend type, we should show how edgy we are by making him the chase villain...and he can be...I know! Everyone liked Angel, right? So we can make him a....a fallen angel! That's different from a vampire, right? And since we're going to be making it for you, we can put in more violence, and have our heroine swear and all, 'cause that'd make our show more edgy, you know?"


Watching Hex is like watching what Buffy would be like if it was being produced by Dan DiDio. We're talking a series that lasted two seasons that piles on the sex, violence and curse words (I actually had to rewind one segment of the show to confirm I heard Cassie, the main character, utter the word 'fuck') since the producers felt it would make Hex more adult, not realizing that the characterization and plotline of the show is...

No, we're not trying to be Buffy..why you ask?
Well, there is not much in the way of characterization and plotlines. Our Buffy analogue, Cassie (played by vacuous blonde Christina Cole), spend far more time having things done to her than doing things. In the three stories on this disc, she is possessed by some sort of bitch-creature so she can have sex with the boyfriend/chase villian Azazael (played by the thoroughly bland Michael Fassbinder) so she can become pregnant with his child so she can have said child aborted so it can be claimed by Azazael and raised as his son Malachi.... Given that the series ascribes telepathic and telekinetic abilities to Cassie, she does absolutely nothing with them, preferring apparently to be terrorized and traumatized by what happens around her. She does so little, in fact, that the third of the episodes on the disc drags in a Faith analogue in Ella (Laura Pyper, who looks uncomfortably like Shannon Doherty...who was in Cursed, come to think of it) to do all the bad-assery stuff.

The thing that is at turns the funniest and the most risible thing about Hex is watching the segments that obviously were inspired by similar scenes in Buffy. The episodes are rife with scenes of Cassie and her best-friend-turned-ghost Thelma (the rather...healthily endowed Jemima Rooper) walking the grounds of the school talking and joking. Unfortunately, those scenes show that while the series was meant to be Sky One's answer to Buffy, they didn't understand the question in the least. And the break-up scene between Cassie and normal boyfriend Troy (Joseph Morgan, who looks uncomfortably like William Katt), it's obvious its meant to resonate with a similar scene between Buffy and Riley in Scene Five--only we know so little about both characters that it doesn't work at all. Even the opening credit sequence is a much, much too uncomfortable for my tastes emulation of the one for Charmed, with Garbage's "#1 Crush" swapped in for Love Spit Love's version of "How Soon Is Now?"

I'm of two minds here about continuing. The episodes are so uniformly dreadful that I'm tempted to remove the other two discs from my queue. And yet, there's a certain train wreck fascination to the series, as you wonder if they can get anything more wrong than they already have. It's like Hex is the mildly retarded cousin of its inspiration, and she's trying her best to fit it; you just can't help but forgive her ineptness.

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