John Strange -
Jude Atkins -
Canon Black -
OTHER DEMON HUNTING SHOWS
Buffy The Vampire
John Strange was promising priest until he started to hold views that the church found disturbing - that the Devil and his demons were real and actual, not just metaphors. There was some unpleasantness and he was defrocked, so when he comes to Jude, a scientist and nurse, with this story following the death of a friendly priest, she is not predisposed to believe him. Unfortunately, her partner turns out to be one of the demons that Strange is hunting.
This was an interesting start to the series. There was a lot more to like than to complain about. It is true that the fact that Jude stumbles onto Strange's world quite by chance and so the coincidence that her partner is one of the demons takes believability just a bit too far.
That said, the rest is great. Richard Coyle makes for an interesting lead character, perhaps not the obvious choice and therefore more offbeat. Samantha Janus is Scully to his Muldur, although there can be no doubt that the demons exist by the end of the episode. Her slow change from sceptic to convert is believable. Ian Richardson, as the sinister Canon Black, can do evil without even trying and he doesn't really try too hard here, but that's fine.
The outcome of the show is not always a foregone conclusion as Strange always seems a step behind the game. The sense of threat is nicely done and the climax is actually original and exciting, though the idea of an electric demon isn't exactly original (hello Buffy The Vampire
A doctor friend of Jude's dies in mysterious circumstances, aged twenty years more in seconds. His body is found by the wife of the local priest, a woman who is suffering from hysteria as it is. She is taken in by the Canon who takes care of her, but her husband does not believe that he is acting in her best interests. In the meantime, another death occurs, this time an old lady with psychic powers and a friend of Strange's.
The pilot was interesting, but this first episode of STRANGE is actually an improvement. The plot is never less than intriguing and plays around with characters both familiar and new until you don't know who is good and who is not.
All is revealed in a last ten minutes that is genuinely exciting and surprising. The only flaw is that all this is happening in Strange's backyard.Top
The choirboys are acting strangely and it's not because of some impropriety with the vicar. They have tattoos and are turning up dead with missing limbs. A local tattooist also turns up with his head sliced clean off, the wound cauterised by a hot blade. Strange is sure that a demon is at work, but can't pick up any supernatural activity. What is going on and who is responsible?
STRANGE is turning into a rather gruesome delight. The plot isn't all that outstanding and is setting up a pattern - something wierd happens, here are the suspects, here's the surprise that's not such a big surprise - but the execution (no pun intended) is excellent.
The dramatic last few minutes gives us a resurrected dead person with Wolverine-type blades emerging from the hands and another made up of body parts, not quite complete. The special make-up effects for both of these are fantastic and a bit nasty. The examination of a headless corpse is also a bit on the gruesome side. This hard edge improves the show quite a bit.Top
Jude is researching is the Cathedral library when she overhears a conversation between the Canon and a postgrad who wants to open one of the crypts. In 1908, a bishop died under very mysterious circumstances and there is a good chance that the opening of the tomb will release an ancient evil. Strange learns that the source of the evil might not be originating from the expected place.
Banshees. Monster of the week is banshees, but it isn't giving anything away to say that. The death coach appears early on in the episode and the identity of the banshee herself is pretty obvious from early on as well. There aren't any surprises along the way.
There are, however, quite a number of good things going on. More about Strange's past are hinted at with the wounds on his back and Jude's discovery of the papers covering the murders in which he was implicated. Their relationship is getting stronger as well. Both of the leads are handling the parts well.
Best of all are the last few minutes (something that seems to be the case with this series). The unveiling of the banshee (obvious though it is) is well-handled and the arrival of the death coach must have cost half the budget for the episode. The fate of the person who has to ride it back to hell is also nastier than some shows would dare to end with.Top
Something nasty is loose. It's small, but it kills very effectively in a sort death by a thousand cuts fashion. The target seems to be young women and a more elderly female priest.
Following on from the pretty smart previous episodes, this is something of a letdown. The plot is pretty garbled, to the point that the demon at the end has to explain the whole thing to a drugged and helpless Jude in order that everyone might understand it.
The Milan Incubi (not just evil minions of hell, but foreign too!) are also a very poor special effect. The director clearly knows this as well because he keeps them hidden behind other stuff as much as possible, but doesn't manager to hide the truth. This is a shame as the previous incarnations of evil have been pretty impressive up to now.
Hopefully, this is just a blip and things will be back to the previous high standard in the next episode.Top
People are dying and the blood is being drained out of them. So far, so normal, but what has this to do with a local carpenter and a woman from Herzegovina here looking for work? And why has Canon Black come to ask for Strange's help when he has blocked all the other investigations that he has undertaken? Strange and Jude go to work.
After the last episode's dip, the series is back to form with this story. The demon is more interesting than the vampire it first appears to be. Its ability to show its victims their dear departed in order to catch them off guard long enough to do its work brings an emotionally charged final confrontation for Strange when he is faced with his dead fiance.
How the demon comes into contact with its victims is also quite ingenious, taking the basic premise of its nature and bringing that into a modern context. There is also a pleasing aside into the treatment of asylum seekers by the local yob culture that doesn't even know why they are there. It's not laboured at all, but makes its point quietly and without fuss.
The final appearance of the Demon is also a big step up from the last ones, which is not to say wholly believable, but at least good enough to be shown in its entirety and in full light. It is also nice the way that Jude and Strange make their own way to the final explanations through entirely separate investigative routes.Top
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