Just How Flaming Amazing Is ‘The Fades’?

BBC3 have produced some amazing supernatural dramas lately.

Sure the pilot for Being Human left a lot to be desired, but a cast shift around and having six episodes to play with did it wonders. It went from strength to strength across the three series, and though it will be forever changed now they offed a main character in the last episode, I look forwards to the newly re-imagined series four.

For some reason though, I wasn’t expecting The Fades to be any good. I don’t know, maybe I’m (unfairly) dubious of anything not good enough to be shown on BBC3 – a particularly unfair judgement, given that my favourite TV show ever has recently been ousted to the dead-end channel that is Sky Living. Primetime slots have never been an earmark of quality. Just look at the X-Factor.

I turned on this spooky supernatural drama mostly because I was bored, and was immediately bowled away by the spooky, atmospheric direction, the engaging characters and the interesting premise of the dead remaining on Earth due to ascension being broken.

In a somewhat recurrent pattern, I didn’t particularly expect episode two to be any good.

I guess I’ve been jaded by too many superb openers that lose their way among the minefield of repetitive plots, characters that refuse to develop and story arcs that are dragged out far too long to sustain interest. Just look at Flashforward. Fab opening episode. I can’t actually remember what happened next.

But The Fades didn’t play all its trump cards in the first episode, and in fact the end of episode 3 was so daring and shocking, that even though I sort of saw it coming (call it policeman/firefighter girlfriend intuition) I still couldn’t believe they’d actually do it until they did.

Daring writing like this is my favourite thing in any genre. I’ll harp on forever (and probably already have somewhere in the archives of this blog) about how, for all its faults, LOST was cemented in my mind as a brilliant TV show when Sayid shot baby Ben. Shooting kids – brave, daring, and it was totally believable within the confines of the story and character, so therefore not gratuitous and played for cheap shocks.

I do think we Brits aren’t as much into the saccharine Hollywood ending – the end of Minority Report, for instance, a film that is otherwise great, makes me want to vomit. As does the end of Face/Off – a film of dubious quality but definite puke factor ending. I mean, I like a happy ending as much as the next person, but only when it’s plausible. Daring to leave things unresolved, to take characters to dark places and explore the consequences – that’s much more interesting and affecting than sunshine and rainbows happy smiles all round.

By the time this publishes, I will have watched the penultimate episode of the series. I will be wondering, as I often do about BBC programs, why we don’t get 22 episodes as is the norm in America. Part of me, the cynical part, wonders if it’s the very nature of having only 6 episodes that makes the storytelling so tight, so creative. If there were 22 episodes to fill, would it not become boring as ideas became stretched out? Can you have too much of a good thing? I don’t know. I never watched the American adaption of Being Human, so I guess I never will.

I will probably be wondering if The Fades can get any better. And hoping the finale isn’t as disappointing as the Heroes series one finale was.

It won’t be.

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