Sunday, 25 January 2009

DEMONS 1.4 – "Suckers"

Sunday, 25 January 2009
Spoilers. Demons is still insanely easy to pick fault with and become irritated by, but "Suckers" was a modest improvement over the previous three episodes. A lot of this was down to one simple fact: Zoë Tapper's performance and character is a cut-above everyone else's, and this episode focused on her to a beneficial degree.

Here, a vampire called Quincey (Ciaran McMenamin) is on the prowl with his undead girlfriend Anika (Katrine de Candole), having been recently revived to the strains of AC/DC by a Johnny Rotten-like goon called Zippy (Peter G. Reed). Of course, Mina has a history with Quincey that Galvin (Philip Glenister) is being vague about to help sustain the plot, but our expectations about Mina's past are eventually proven true– she's half "half-life" (quarter-life?), owing to the fact she was bitten by Dracula over 150 years ago, but chooses to keep her vampiric nature in check by filtering her blood. Begging the question: would gung-ho Galvin allow other half-lives a similar chance to lead a normal, human life? Or would he just "smite" them with all the moral fibre of a bug exterminator?

The storyline is rather thin again, not helped by the fact Quincey is a terribly bland, pretty-boy villain who gets no credibly scary moments. A tendency to walk super-fast with a CGI blur and tongue his fangs is about his limit. Lucy Watkins' script doesn't even give him a devious scheme that needs thwarting; all Quincey does is pretend to be a doctor (injoke?) and extract blood from an elderly donor, through traditional intravenous means. Where are the fangs and the neck-biting? For all his talk of slaying countless humans over the decades, this episode paints him as all-talk, no-walk. He even goes bowling with his henchmen in one ridiculous scene; punctuated by an idiotic moment that explains why his sidekick's called Zippy (his head can be detached by neck-zipper and bowled down the alley for a strike, of course.)

Ruby (Holliday Grainger) is still an irritating hanger-on, with a perplexing hatred of Mina that exists solely to create tension and the threat of a cat-fight between "the girls". It makes her appear incredibly immature and rather insecure, actually; but at least that's something of a personality to build on. Her co-stars are still very anaemic in that respect-- Galvin is nothing but a skewed accent and dour expressions, while our hero Luke (Christian Cooke) resembles a gun-toting mannequin.

This episode is rescued from total tedium by a third act twist that worked well (probably because Demons is so inept you're not expecting anything creative to happen.) It turns out that Quincey is actually Mina's son, whom she turned into a vampire using some of her blood when he was terminally ill in hospital during WWII. The reveal worked well in making us reassess their relationship, and brief moment towards the end (with Mina drinking her own unfiltered blood to regain her vampire powers so she can rescue Ruby and Galvin from Quincey), was also a rare action sequence that worked. Interesting to note that when Mina embraces her half-life nature she regains her sight, too. The burden of blindness lends a nice "curse" aspect to her human existence.

Overall, I'm going to be fair and admit that "Suckers" held my attention, and the last fifteen minutes were particularly solid. It's still not great, and often quite embarrassing and silly (only vampires can kill vampires, so humans have to first restore them to life by shooting them with their own DNA?!), but "Suckers" was a relatively decent episode because Mina's a moderately engaging character, and the episode wasn't without some merit. It's just a shame Quincey was so insipid and unthreatening as this week's villain (something of a recurring problem for the show), and the supposed leads of Galvin and Luke are so tiresome to watch.

24 January 2009
ITV1, 7.45pm

Writer: Lucy Watkins
Director: Tom Harper

Cast: Philip Glenister (Galvin), Zoë Tapper (Mina), Christian Cooke (Luke), Holliday Grainger (Ruby), Ciaran McMenamin (Quincey), Katrine de Candole (Anika), Peter G. Reed (Zippy), Eileen Essell (Ethel) & Liz Cass (Gail)