Saturday, October 8, 2011

Ten Statements About....THE FADES EPISODE TWO (2011)

Forget all the gore-smeared monsters in this show...this
gal's the scariest thing in here...
"Your sister was naked?"
"Well, the important thing was that she was dead."

1) I give this show credit for coming up with a fairly unique way of doing the 'previously' pre-credit recap. By making it a sort of video diary from Mac, we not only get a more flavorful recap, we get a definite sense of the show's voice right off the bat, so we can decide if it's for us or not.

Of course, considering Mac continues to be a second rate Xander dropping random pop culture references, I wonder if new viewers might choose the 'not for us' option.

2) Was it wrong of me to wish that the sight of a dead Anna meant we wouldn't have to deal with Lily Loveless' tone-deaf acting this episode?

(Sadly, I did not get my wish, and the world is poorer for it.)

3) Given the girl on the toilet last episode and the rather protracted incest riff in this one, I have to really wonder if writer Jack Thorne perceives this as the kind of humor that'll appeal to an American audience, or if he's just really, really, really peculiar.

4) The sequence in the orphanage may very well be the first thing this series gave me that doesn't smack of Whedon. Yeah, it's all a set-up to get us to another Giles-like character, but there are touches--the ghost Natalie and her bi-polar attitude toward Paul, the way Niel communicates with his now-dead mentor by writing in his hand, each letter remaining as a burning after image for a second--that seem to indicate the series does want to become something other than British Television's nineteenth Buffy rip-off.

Yeah, there may be ghosts/monsters hanging around Paul,
but asking him to talk to a girl?  THAT'S scary....
5) You know what I like about Sophie Wu's Jay? Yeah, she's obviously meant to be the romantic interest for Paul, and Wu doesn't bring anything interesting to that role...but the style sense of the character, with her penchant for what appears to be psuedo-60's modwear implies there's a story there, a reason why she is going to end up standing with outsider Paul as opposed to the more conventional Anna other than the script needs her it makes her stand out in the sea of chav-wear that is the show's school-set sequences.

6) Okay, first the pissing, then the incest, now necrophilia? I'm willing to call it--the humor on this show is waaaay too icky, and must go.

7) Admittedly, another thing that sort of works is how there are sequences that feature some of the now-dead cast members walking along with their loved one, playing silent witness to what's going on in the real world. One scene in particular, with the dead Sarah following her husband home and witnessing his bedding of another woman, is made all the more atmospheric by the way Natalie Dormer's expression never changes; it's as if the director is inviting us to read our own impressions into Sarah's face.

8) Okay, Johnny Harris' Neil is growing on me. I find it fascinating how Harris is creating a sort of tension between his rough look and his attitude. You get the impression that Neil wants to be a gentle, kinder teacher but doesn't have to tool set to ease this kid into the job he has to do. It's another sign of the show wanting to move away from its Whedon-esque remit into something more original.

Apparently, these ghosts get their
special effects from the same place
Time Lords do.

9) Every time I think the series has found the right track, emphasizing the subtle as opposed to the overt (the scare scene involving the mangled soccer ball was particularly impressive), I get dragged back into the belief that there's not many good ideas in the show's head. After emphasizing the show is about ghosts for an hour and change, it brings in this new angle that makes the Fades into not-quite-zombies, and it's back to following trends.

10) I don't care about the ghoulish, red-eyed, pakour-ish ghosties that are the bulk of the creatures in the series--Natalie is proving to be the scariest thing within. Jenn Murray's body language gives her a sort of personality that's one half impish and one half fucking insane. I want to see more of this actress.

Overall...there is some improvement in the show, as it struggles to gain an identity separate from the show the BBC wants it to emulate. Whether it ultimately succeeds lies with whether it can step out of the shadow of Joss Whedon and into a more nuanced and subtle style of storytelling.

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