Episode 3: Saving Grace
In Saving Grace, Smiters United are pitted against Mr. Tibbs – a Grade 11 half-life (whatever that means) and an all-round nasty piece of work. Galvin has particular reason to want this demon well and truly smitten; twenty years ago, Tibbs murdered Galvin’s wife.
Philip Glenister can do troubled and vengeful really rather well and in a way, that’s the problem. Call me impossible to please, but the mere thought of what he could have done with the character this week given a decent script is enough to make this reviewer curl up in a corner and weep bitterly while clutching her Life on Mars boxsets.
Tibbs has recruited the Noisy Boys (the feral hoodies from Episode 1) as his hench-demons, whose main job is to be pummelled repeatedly by Luke in two extremely poorly-directed fight scenes. The first, outside the library, is oddly slow and sluggish, as if none of the participants can really be bothered (and Christian Cooke still looks as though he might burst into tears at any moment).
When Galvin heads to Tibbs’ hideout and finds a traumatised girl – Grace – locked in a cage, we then have to endure a second encounter with the be-hooded ones. The first fight lacked adrenaline, but this one is even worse; for one thing, there’s slow-mo involved. Matthew Evans’ direction here does nothing but drain the scene of all excitement. If he’s going to inflict slow-mo on us, the battle is going to have to be a heck of a lot more epic than a tussle in a factory car park.
Several obvious plot twists later, we discover that Grace is not as innocent as she seems. Mina is knocked unconscious and a bomb is rigged in the library. Meanwhile, Galvin drags Luke down into the sewers for a bit of rat-catching and the pair promptly find themselves in a sealed chamber with a rapidly-rising water level. Tibbs then arrives to have a gloat, of course, and oh, it’s all so crashingly formulaic.
Tibbs looks like a cross between a rodent, a Victorian gentleman and a regular customer at the local shop in Royston Vasey. His air of menace comes less from Kevin McNally’s performance and more from what we hear of the character before he appears; a rat who experiments on humans because ‘he thinks it’s funny’.
Well, I suppose that fits in with the complete lack of humour we’ve seen in the series so far. Whenever one of the characters attempts the odd quip, it always seems forced and unnatural. There is none of the irreverence found in the likes of Doctor Who and the serious, earnest stuff is made of pure corn.
Take, for instance, the inevitable heart-to-heart between Luke and Galvin in the sewers; every line is cringe-inducing and there are no revelations the viewer couldn’t see coming a mile off. It’s Mina’s turn to deliver the worst line of the week however, with, “I won’t forgive you your balls; too often they rule your brain”.
With Mina out of action and the menfolk about to drown, it’s up to Ruby to save the day. Well it’s about time she made a proper contribution to the war effort instead of constantly playing the damsel-in-distress act.
Poor Holliday Grainger. Not only does she have to put up with those awful red trousers, but she really is doing the best she can with a character more annoying than Dale Winton singing a Ting Tings song while giving you papercuts with a copy of Heat magazine.
To give the girl her dues, she does manage to get her act together long enough to rescue the others. You have to sympathise with her too – begrudgingly – as she struggles with her feelings for the unbelievably dense Luke (blimey, her standards are low).
But even if he took the time to notice his devoted best friend and her appalling trousers, Luke is told in no uncertain terms by Mina that a normal love life is out of the question; with great power comes deep, angsty loneliness. We then have to witness Luke having a mammoth strop over the whole business, but since the writers have shown us nothing to make us like or care about his character, it’s hard to feel sorry for him.
Demons desperately needs an injection of originality and nuance. Every single plot point in the last three episodes has been as predictable as a rainy Wimbledon or a miserable Christmas in Albert Square. It may be family viewing, but its audience should be credited with a little intelligence. If the show wants to make its mark, it needs to find something to set it apart from its predecessors; something daring, something different, something to make us sit up and pay attention.
Surprise us. Go on. I dare you.
21 January 2009