Tuesday, 18 October 2011

The Fades – BBC3 supernatural fantasy (Spoilers naturally)

After some resistance, mostly due to being commitment shy when it comes to television and preferring stand-alone dramas, I have succumbed to The Fades. It was only after a big wrestle with the first episode. 

The new ‘Being Human/Sixth Sense-ish’ horror fantastical epic just sounded far too busy and the opening episode for me did wear thin on this point. However, I have liked other things penned by Jack Thorne (Slight exaggeration, I liked This is England) and in my ‘just managed to escape the one hundred and one hours of The Killing by the skin of my teeth’, decided to dive back in via good old iplayer.

Anyway, putting aside my televisual viewing dilemmas, the matter at hand, I see dead people stuff.  First off, the title fills me with such sadness, the thought of people fading in limbo is unthinkable; watching loved ones carrying on and not being able to speak, touch or tell them you are still there is a simple premise though and one that’s been done many times.The Fades with its corruption of spiritual laws, angelic order and soul interspersed with ‘nanu nanu’ humour and reference to cringe worthy Spielberg makes it all the more watchable.

Some interesting interpretations of Biblical hearsay via dialogue and the outrageously Marilyn Manson-esque main murdering Fade is all very visually impacting but for me, the whole thing is a little too heavy on the special effects and glossed up a bit much.

And to get it out of the way, I did prefer ‘Being Human’ for its simplicity on that front; yes two little boys are strung up in the woods and eaten (ick) but that didn’t have me on the edge of my seat as much as the scene in ‘Being Human’ where George started the full moon ‘change’ in a primary school and had to get his wolf alter ego out of there before a massacre of the junior kind. That’s just me though; I don’t mind the odd ‘man in a costume’ not so special effect every now and then.

At this pinnacle in the series, we have gone through that age old teenage oddball story Paul that wets the bed, has a hideously popular and shallow sister, fancies her best friend, hangs out with equally, ‘on the fringe of nerdism’ fellow outcast.

 A compellingly tragic best friend relationship with Mac pulls you in (both have absent fathers to varying degrees) but the difference is, Paul has inexplicable powers. Their friendship alone has held me. I fear for Mac. As much as Jack Thorne likes to make you laugh and shock your socks off, he also makes you cry.

Alongside that there’s more teenage angst (Skins ish of course), lots of grim toilet and masturbation moments, blood curdling unearthly yuck and shoot outs of ‘organic material’. Oh and a very dusty ash ridden place in nightmare form. Lots to be going on with. Extremely compelling shots of rebirth with slimy chrysalis transformation and butterflies, usually beautiful creatures but when huge and coming out of your mouth, take on a whole new creepy persona.

And yes the baddie Fade has that charm of ‘Being Human’s ‘Herrick’ in that he in the last episode did the classic ‘trust me/feel sorry for me’ and then slaughtered away happily. Never trust anyone with 'the hunger' basically.

So the current cliff hanger, it looks like Paul has been bought back from fade hell which means those around him will now be drawn heavily into this horrific existence that up until now has been on the peripheral for them.

Guiding their unknowing ‘angel’ through a life of accusations of ‘weirdo’ with ‘no darling you’re just different’ and replaced with an emotionally charged resurrection. Will his sister now stop the pouty sibling rivalry and be nice? And how is the torn relationship of Mark and Sarah and her involvement with head angel Neil going to develop and knit nicely in with Paul’s story.

I don’t want to give too much away so feast your eyes on some boundary pushing writing and performances from newish British actors that haven’t been nicked/overshadowed by HBO yet (put that in for a friend of mine, he knows who he is)

Wednesdays at 10.00pm. See you there for more blood curdling winged insect biblical/spiritual perversion topped with freakishness and hints of ‘end of the world’ 2012 histrionics; good stuff.

Jump to iplayer for catch up and on the official website for lots more on the fab casting below...

Episodes 1-4 of The Fades
Episode 4
Official website:The Fades

Images: BBC3 and my screen grabber Orac.

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