Monday, November 14, 2011

The Fades, Season 1, Episode 1

This week we have a new series to catch up on – BBC’s The Fades. As usual we will have several episode reviews to bring us up to date.

We follow Paul and his friend Mac as they explore an abandoned shopping center for props for Mac’s horror film (or just to mess around just as happily). Paul is separated from Mac and runs into Neil and Sarah – Neil with a gun and Sarah with severe injuries. And something chasing and attacking them and doing something really freaky with Neil’s eye that is extremely creepy and way beyond Paul’s experience

The Fades are coming, the trapped remains of the dead growing increasingly more enraged. The Fades are becoming stronger, able to touch people, able to break through into our world, and more is coming besides – and according to Sarah and her frightening apocalyptic vision, they’re going to destroy the world  – a vision that is shared by Paul in his nightmares.  One of many which are prophetic  coupled with the ability to see the Fades that are hidden from everyone else
And to fill out the cast we have Mark who is also Mac and Paul’s history teacher and Sarah’s sorta-separated husband Mark. Separated but living together – trapped by a mortgage (happens more often than you think). We also have Helen, a friend, vicar and apparent gun toting colleague of Sarah and Neil. A vicar with a gun, someone’s taking the “tea and cake or death” a little seriously.  And Anna, Paul’s deeply unpleasant twin sister (ugh why does there always have to be a Mean Girl?) and, of course, Jay, the girl Paul is interested in

Thematically, I’m impressed, with atmosphere, lighting and settings it really does a good job of setting up a grim, dark and gritty atmosphere. Doesn’t take a huge budget to establish a suitably tense atmosphere and I think this show did it more than well. I really can’t emphasize enough how amazingly well done the theme and atmosphere is here – we have a double load of creepy with extra spooky. And with really unwanted scenes of impromptu eye surgery.

Paul is also an interesting hero in that he’s totally unheroic – and not just in a sense of “I have special powers and I just want to be normal! WOE! WOE IS ME AFFLICTED BY SUPER POWERS!” which is so common in the genre.  No, he’s nervous, afraid, awkward and both he and Mac are supremely geeky.

I’m also like the relationship between Paul and Mac. It feels real, especially for the age group – sort of manchild. It feels very natural and authentic which really builds both characters – it wouldn’t surprise me to find out the actors are friends themselves. It also makes for lines you can’t help but laugh at. I do worry of side-kickdom so I’m going to see how that develops. I think it’ll be an interesting dynamic because while Paul has the odd power, he is not a dominant personality – Mac seems to be the one in charge (and also funny, confident, utterly uncaring of what people think, childish but joyful with it and entirely willing to enjoy the situation with a constant stream of banter and commentary).

Inclusion-wise so far we have Mac, a character I really like, Jay and Detective Armstrong. I also like the casual inclusion of disabled people – albeit largely as background characters, but they’re there and part of the world and presented as part of the world in a very normalized fashion.

Ok, from the first episode? I’m really intrigued. Helen has unknown healing powers, Sarah was a seer, does Neil have powers since he’s part of the gang? And exactly who is Paul and how will he save them all? I love the atmosphere, the acting is pretty damn good quality which is a relief to see. I like the characters, the world, the concept – just about everything. I think I'm going to enjoy this one