Wednesday, August 25, 2010
It also trolls some of the same territory as True Blood, but without the self-seriousness that taints that show, nor the camp I understand is coming to it during this season (I've only seen Season One of True Blood.) Why the high-concept makes so much sense here is that these are three 'marginal' people who have come together to support each other. Happily, the metaphor manages to avoid the obvious heaviness that also infects True Blood. It even finds an elegant way to undercut True Blood's central conceit of vampires enjoying substitute blood by making it clear substitute products, such as blood-donor blood doesn't work. As Mitchell the vampire tells a recently turned desperate vampire in episode three: “There's not enough life left in it. It's not a fresh kill.”
The giddy fun of this show is jammed cheek to jowl with the more disturbing elements. For example, there's this exchange between the guilt-ridden George and the world-weary Mitchell when George worries how he might 'act' if he has sex with a woman he's attracted to.
Mitchell: “I never know with you whether it's Jewish guilt or werewolf guilt.”
George: “They're pretty much the same thing.”
And later Mitchell forces the issue by telling the woman George fancies that George wants her to come over for dinner. When Mitchell tells a mortified George what he's done, they have this exchange.
George: “We need to set some ground rules about guests.”
Mitchell: “Such as?”
George: “We don't kill them.”
Mitchell “ Ah, such a bourgeois concept.”
Shortly after these exchanges the show bravely ventures into darker issues. For example, as George gets his beast on with his lady fair, Annie the ghost discovers how she really died – a memory she had so far suppressed. It's a complete jaw dropper and a game changer for her character. The show is also unafraid to go into the darker side of sexuality. At one point in the second episode, a vindictive vampire sends Mitchell a DVD. On the disc, all we see is a tattooed man seemingly having sex with an invisible woman (in fact, it's a vampire whose likeness cannot be picked up by digital photography). She then proceeds to feed, but all we see is his nude body jerk and shudder alone as she has her fill. She then dumps his limp corpse off the bed. It is chilling moments such as these, combined with its smart humour, that have quickly hooked me. I look forward to the rest of this week to find out how the first season plays out.
Season One is only six episodes long, while Season Two and the still-shooting Season Three comprise eight episodes. Short seasons such as this is a technique the Brits have used brilliantly over the years, something that American television really has to adopt for more challenging material. The science fiction channel, Space, is showing Season One back to back this week in preparation for the launch of Season Two in October. (Space will repeat Season One as a weekly series starting next Monday).