Saturday, 23 October 2004 22:12
strange_complex: (Lady Morgana)
Just finally got round to watching the first episode of Hex, which I taped last Sunday.

Overall, I quite enjoyed it, although I'll need a bit longer to find out if it's so great that I'm going to go out of my way to watch it every week. I will for a while, though, as it definitely deserves a chance.

Despite comparisons which have been made, I thought it actually wasn't in the least bit like Buffy the Vampire Slayer: the main difference being that there is no 'wise-cracking' element to it. It is played as a fairly straight Gothic drama, more reminiscent of things like The Turn of the Screw and most M.R. James stories than Buffy. Yes, OK, so there's a blonde heroine who finds she has special powers (Cassie), her best friend who's a lesbian (Thelma), and a school environment with a black head-master (like the rebuilt Sunnydale High). But it is more a case of a series of individual instances of Buffy influence thrown into a different mix, than of a direct imitation.

The straight-ahead way the Gothic horror aspect was played at the beginning of the pilot episode (it was 1h 45 long, instead of what is to be the more usual 1h) was a bit disappointing at first. In a post-Buffy world, self-referential humour has become pretty much de rigeur for horror and fantasy, and I must say I like that. I was also already wondering about an hour into the pilot how long the story would be able to be spun out for. Apparently five episodes have been made for now, but more will be produced if it goes down well, so some kind of long-running story is needed.

However, the last 15 minutes or so made me suspect that it will change quite markedly in tone as it develops. It got a lot more surreal towards the end, and if what appeared to have happened by the end of the episode really had happened (things were surreal enough by this point that it was hard to be quite certain), then there could actually be quite a lot of potential for the story to develop in interesting ways. To protect those who don't know but hope to see the episode some time ) This could actually be a good way to insert that self-referential humour, and give the series a more modern feel.

I could still do with some more surprises, though, as the basic outlines of what is going on seem a bit too simple at the moment. But given the ending of the first episode, it's quite possible they'll be provided. I also felt the special effects were pretty ropey at several points, sadly including the transformation of Azazael from human into 'fallen angel' guise. I never was much impressed by the 'vampire' guise of the vampire characters in Buffy, and I feel much the same, if not more so, about Azazael. Maybe it is just that I find monsters more effective in a human form anyway.

On the other hand, the relationships between the teenage characters were worth watching, although I wouldn't go as far as saying that they were actually exquisitely observed or cutting-edge. I found out from the Sky One web-site for Hex, in fact, that the series is produced by the same people who made a drama called As If which I watch sometimes, about a group of teenage friends in London (and indeed, Hex includes the actress I'd always liked best from As If, Jemima Rooper, as Thelma). I've always rather liked the feel of the way the character-relationships are portrayed in As If, and the same sorts of elements are clearly present in Hex. So I count that as a good reason to keep watching in itself.

Generally good, then, and I have reason to believe some of the weaknesses will be made good as things go on. Next episode is tomorrow night at 9pm.
strange_complex: (Default)
I've been reading an article in the Sunday Times about an upcoming drama series called Hex. Actually it is the Sunday Times from a fortnight ago, because the damn things come with so much paper these days it takes me that long to read it...

On paper, it has everything you could want from cult TV: teenagers, angst, lesbianism, unrequited love, irony, a school with a 'spooky past' and a fallen angel (literally: this isn't another of the teenage characters). The characters are also supposed to be 'dark', 'messy' and at odds with one another. 'The new Buffy' is apparently a phrase its producers are already sick of hearing.

Whether it'll live up to all this in reality remains to be seen, but it definitely sounds worth checking out. I am in the market for good new TV series at the moment, because several of my favourites are no longer being made (e.g. Frasier, Buffy), and I'm aware some of my others are well-worn-in now (e.g. West Wing, Six Feet Under). I need new TV for a brighter watching future!

Hex starts on Sky One on 17th October.

Oh, and this time, it is British-made.


strange_complex: (Default)

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