Episode 2: The Whole Enchilada
After last week’s abysmal opener, this reviewer started to wonder whether ‘the British Buffy’ was all part of some elaborate hoax; had the respective creators of Demons and Bonekickers got together down the pub and taken bets on who could get the most idiotic concept greenlit? Still, everything deserves a second chance. Well, most things.
We open in a generic creepy cemetery where a young girl, Ally, is whisked away by some rubbish CGI that her younger sister Madge believes to be a ‘lovely angel’.
The episode – in its own crude, clunky way – taps into one of the most pertinent issues of the day, particularly when, as their family is hounded by the press, the mother turns to her husband and articulates the thoughts of every gutter-journalist and Daily Mail reader within a ten-mile radius: “They think it’s us.”
And so Luke – fresh from martial-arts training – and the rest of Smiters United have a mystery on their hands.
After literally seconds of extensive and exhaustive research in the library, the team figure out that Gilgamel is a ‘travesty’ – a Grade 9 demon which can assume a more benign form, such as that of a rubbish CGI angel, in order to ensnare its victims.
Gilgamel is attracted by ‘the odour of sanctity’, hence his targeting of innocent children (since little Madge would happily sell her own grandmother for 23p and a lip gloss, she gets a pass).
Ruby’s one contribution to the episode – other than being even more irritating than the theme music – is to glean information about Gilgamel from Madge, which she manages to do through unabashed bribery. After that, she’s just an annoyance. I presume she’s supposed to be ‘kooky’ and ‘endearing’, but it just comes across as ‘pain in the backside’.
Zoë Tapper is tragically underused again, hanging around in the background for most of the episode, looking like a younger, less unhinged Madonna and probably wishing she was off playing Ophelia somewhere.
The less said about Christian Cooke the better; I’m sure twelve-year-old girls nationwide are squeeing madly every time he whips his shirt off, but some of us would like an iota of charisma in our leading characters if that’s at all achievable.
Joining Glenister and Tapper in this week’s talent squandering is Richard ‘Rent-a-Curmudgeon’ Wilson as Father Simeon, undead priest and expert on all things Half-Life.
There is bad blood between Simeon and Galvin – or ‘the colonial’ as the old zombie calls him, voice dripping with that typical Wilson disdain – and the origins of their mutual dislike will no doubt be revealed in a later episode. For now, Simeon warns Luke that Galvin cannot be trusted.
He’s probably right. That accent was decidedly shifty last week, but now it’s like Dick Van Dyke in reverse. Glenister’s vowels appear to be enjoying a whistlestop tour of the US; one minute he’s having a crack at generic Noo Joizey, the next he’s all ‘hey-howdy-hey, ma’am, looks like y’all could use some help’. It’s distracting and entirely pointless; why does Galvin need to be American in the first place?
Peter Tabern’s script is still far too fond of throwing in ‘thees’ and ‘doths’ at all-too-frequent intervals and the poor cast even have the near-impossible task of talking about ‘the Sword of Righteousness’ and ‘the Orb of Sanctity’ with straight faces (presumably the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch was engaged elsewhere).
It’s hokey, it’s silly and it sounds like a nerdy nine-year-old wrote it. Actually, that’s an insult to nerdy nine-year-olds.
Luke taking his driving test does not convince as a subplot either. Of course it’s meant to highlight what a hardship it is for the poor lad to juggle the smiting and his normal life, but surely anyone with half an ounce of moral duty would be concentrating all their efforts on saving the missing children?
Even when ghostly Ally appears to help him demonstrate his emergency stop, ‘vanquish the child-snatching demon’ is still way down on his to-do list. Things only become really dire when Ruby’s brother is taken and quite frankly, this reviewer didn’t care about the welfare of the clumsy little plot device one bit.
When the confrontation with Gilgamel finally comes, it’s another blink-and-you’ll-miss-it affair; much like last week, we aren’t given enough time to feel that Luke or the team are in any real jeopardy.
It’s unclear whether this is down to poor pacing on Tabern’s part or a limited FX budget, but either way the episode simply fizzles out and the viewer is left wondering why they bothered sitting through it at all.
Admittedly The Whole Enchilada gave us a far better plot than the series opener and it looks like we’re in for some much-needed backstory for Galvin next week, but the more discerning telly fan would do well to follow the show’s own advice and ‘flee the travesty’.
13 January 2009