Three always was the charm with the Greek gods, so let’s have a look at Valentine‘s first three episodes to see if it has managed to bewitch us so far. The show’s premise is that at least some of the Greek gods have survived to the present day and in an effort to remain relevant – and therefore immortal – Aphrodite, Eros and others have to work together to bring soulmates together, just like they did in the good old days.
Essentially each show has an A-plot and a B-plot, one for the immortals and one for the mortals they’re trying to match-make. The mortal plot is invariably dreadful, with drippy dork usually falling for woman out of his league and having to woo her somehow with the help of the gods. The immortal plot, however, is usually much better, showing signs of imagination, originality and some actual research (although not an overwhelming amount).
The only problems here are:
- the woeful miscasting, with Jaime Murray (Aphrodite) ruining pretty much every scene she’s in (as well as helping to turn the title sequence into one of the most cringeworthy in history) and most of the other gods failing to convince, with perhaps the exception of Eros. Indeed, Ares, god of savage war, is played by a weeny English bloke. What’s going on there?
- the tedious mortal romance-writer the producers have partnered the gods with
The general expectation given to us by the really rather bad first episode was that mortal romance would be A-plot, god-squabbling the B-plot – indeed that’s how episode three worked. That would have been an almost unbearable show.
But episode two was almost revelatory. Not only was it an arranged marriage episode that wasn’t totally insensitive and insulting, but the two plot strands swapped places in priority. And as predicted, it was a whole lot more interesting than the first episode as a result, even if there was an absolutely dire Bollywood dance sequence that cost it nearly a full mark on the Carusometer.
Now whether it’s Kevin Murphy’s background on shows like Reaper, but episode two felt like Pride and Prejudice would have done if the bloke from Saw had turned up. Suddenly, instead of the pink-tinged fluffy wuffiness of the first episode, suddenly we had an episode where if the gods fail, the wife-to-be ends up topping herself with sleeping pills, with her body being discovered by her youngest son. WTF? Where did that come from?
Better still, we had an ending of prophecied vicious bloodletting, Ares talking about a threat to the gods from outside and the suggestion that mortal hanger-on might be behind it all. So now we have a nice dark underbelly to the fluff that actually makes it worth watching and which will, at least, be an arc that carries on through future episodes.
There are still obvious problems, Jaime Murray being one the most obvious. But if the writers can slowly ditch the mortal sub-plots – just as Charmed did before it – in favour of the gods and their issues, it could actually turn out to be a pretty entertaining show.
Could last a whole season at least, provides it stays off the tedious mortals and focuses on the gods.
Two or Partial Caruso