BBC has done pretty well for itself over the years in the supernatural genre and they hope to keep the momentum rolling with their newest invention Demons, a fresh yet familiar show about your average boy who is transformed into a demon slayer. That boy, Luke (Christian Cooke), is a more than happy young lad who spends his days farting around and trying to get laid until one day his mysterious godfather Rupert (Philip Glenister) shows up with a dire warning. Something sinister is hunting him, demons apparently, and “they bite” so it is time he learned the truth about who he really is.
From there the shows goes through the motions of dismissal and disbelief until one night Luke is walking around with his friend Ruby (Holliday Grainger) when they are attacked by these creatures. Now since Industrial Light and Magic was not in the budget the producers had to settle on demons which are a little rough around the edges and resemble hunchbacked Gremlins on Rogaine. Luke does his part by beating them back and in the process realizes that he does indeed possess some sort of superhuman strength. Now Rupert has his attention.
To compare a show like this to Buffy in our post-Buffy world is extremely old hat and has been done more times than can be calculated. But still this show does have similarities to that one; however the more appropriate comparison would be to Harry Potter. Luke, like Harry, is a nothing until one day he discovers that he has something special flowing in his blood and that it is his destiny to use that power for the good of all mankind. They both then gather up a group of friends to help in the war against some all powerful evil being with the added incentive of knowing that if they defeat that being then they are also avenging the death of their parent(s).
In this case Luke’s dirty little family secret is that he is the last surviving member of the Van Helsing bloodline. To the credit of the writers they were wise enough to specify that he is not related to Bram Stoker’s Van Helsing but rather to a supposedly real demon hunter upon whom the character was based. That said other characters from Dracula show up throughout the show including Mina Harker and Quincey. When stacked up against last year’s superb Being Human this show is somewhat lacking, they are overly reliant on self contained episodes and seem timid about tacking any issues that could possibly affect real people. But that is not to say that there isn’t a lot of high quality stuff going on here.
The most compelling aspect on Demons is the push and pull that is going on between Luke and Rupert over how they approach their duties. Luke is really just a kid looking to get his driver’s license and have a good time. He has a carefree manner and an apathetic attitude which really rubs Rupert the wrong way because this is his life and these demons killed his wife. The writers have been brave enough to show Rupert to be a rather un-likeable fanatic with a knack for bile spewing rampages which are surely a turn off for some of the softer viewers out there. It is also quite stimulating to watch as they try to blend our modern cell phone culture with a mythology that stretches back to 1897. At one point Luke takes a serious ass chewing for leaving his ringer off leaving us to wonder what these demons hunters did, oh say 15 years ago.
Filling out the rest of this team are Ruby (presumably to give the boys something to lust after and the girls somebody to root for) and Mina Harker (Zoe Tapper), a blind vampire who has worked by Rupert’s side since way back in the day. Probably the absolute most irritating thing about the show is the way that they fall into that archaic trap of only introducing weapons to the characters and the audience if they are going to be used that episode. Is demanding a little thought from your audience really such a risky move these days? Why not introduce a weapon in episode 2 and then not call it back until the season finale? That is how it works in the real world (or would work if demon slayers were real) and it rewards those people who have taken the time to care about your show. But just because it isn’t the most highly evolved show out there doesn’t mean that it can’t be used to get you through the days as you wait for the next season of Dr. Who.
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