In the UK: Saturdays, 7.20pm, ITV1
Unto each generation, a rip-off is born. This is especially true of ITV1, which never knowingly fails to panic when it sees someone else’s format and decides to make it its own. And thus Strictly Come Dancing begat Dancing on Ice, Doctor Who begat Primeval and so on and so on. Here, though, ITV have decided they want to rip off both an American format and a book.
So with just the deletion of a letter y, Buffy the Vampire Slayer becomes The Buff Vampire Slayer: the last of a long line of monster-killers, equipped with super strength and reflexes, becomes mentored by a foreign national called Rupert with a fake accent, and has to take time out from school work and a platonic best friend (who’d really like it to be something more) to embrace an unwanted destiny, while a weary mother looks on unknowingly.
The only difference: it’s a bloke, not a girl, Rupert is American (sort of) and the Slayer is the last of the Van Helsings who fought Dracula and other beasties of the night.
Sigh. Except it’s ITV1 and it comes from the makers of Hex, so do I really need to mention the fact it’s not very good?
A teenager is visited by his dead father’s best friend, who informs him he is a direct descendant of a vampire hunter and will inherit the family mantle as a warrior fighting supernatural entities. However, before the news has time to sink in, he is attacked by the very beings he is supposed to be tackling. Contemporary twist on Bram Stoker’s Dracula, starring Philip Glenister, Christian Cooke and Mackenzie Crook
Is it any good?
If you know your Buffy, it’s more like the movie than the TV series: played for laughs, with monsters that couldn’t be described as frightening in a million years. Charitably, I’d described the first episode as garbled, too. The entire episode was basically a plot dump with way too much detail woven in to try to explain the set-up, without any real characterisation to bolster it all.
It does have some nifty dialogue at times, I grant you, and some of the stunts ain’t so bad – although nowhere near the standard of the first three seasons of Buffy say – and I can imagine the rest of the series is going to be more about the action than the back story (at least I hope so).
But He-Buffy (Cooke) is essentially a block of wood with no depth who spends most of his time with his top off; platonic friend is a mardy, pouty complainer (like most teenage girls, mind. Tee hee.) who doesn’t do much else of note beyond getting captured a lot; Mina Harker, the blind, concert pianist, psychic adviser to He-Buffy and co, is little more than an ice queen; and mentor Philip Glenister, spouting one of the weirdest American accents yet set to film, while enjoyable, is a strangely daft character who talks arse (“I will smite thee” – Hmm) in an attempt to be amusing.
Still, it does have some potential, even if ITV1 appears not to think so, judging by its scheduling and delay in broadcast thanks to the football over-running*. If it manages to uncomplicate itself and make the next few episodes a bit darker and less comedic, they could be on to something, particularly if Glenister’s character turns out to be English and just faking an accent for a reason. He’s not, but it would improve it if he were.
You can find the whole thing uploaded to YouTube if you hunt hard enough, but here’s a couple of trailers for the show and a couple of interviews. You may notice that Mackenzie Crook isn’t frightening in any way.
* I could be wrong, since there’s quite an extensive ad campaign for it down the escalators in Charing Cross tube station.