Demons – Buffy 2.0?

© Copyright ITV plc 2008 / 20th Century Fox Television
© Copyright ITV plc 2008 / 20th Century Fox Television

If Joss Whedon, creative genius behind the legendary Buffy the Vampire Slayer, happens to be tracking ITV’s 2009 season debut of Demons he will surely be turning in the grave of his masterpiece.

For ITV’s answer to the show that took the American WB network by storm in the late ’90’s and created an immense cult fan following around the globe, appears at first glance to have been influenced by its predecessor just a little too much.

To all Buffy fans out there – how does this scenario sound? Angsty, coming-of-age teenager (this time, boy rather than girl) raised by a single mother following the premature departure of a father figure at an early age, is one day approached by a mysterious male ‘watcher’ figure, introducing him to the ways of ‘the dark side’ in order to equip him with the skills required to fight. Why? Because he is the chosen one. It is his destiny. It is a genetic predisposition, shared by a long line of ancestral heroes who save the world, one demon-smiting at a time.

Sound familiar? It gets better. Rupert Giles has been reinvented as Rupert Galvin (couldn’t they have conspired to invent a different first name? Or at least initials?). Unrequited love-interest Xander Harris sees resurrection as Ruby – the best friend character who, through undying loyalty and well-meaning acts of defiance and naive heroism, actually succeeds in creating even more danger and peril for our hero to clear up. 

The central focus for our new Scooby Gang’s key learnings and research on all things dark and demonic? You guessed it – ‘the stacks’, provided to Luke as his rightful inheritance from his grandfather, the original Van Helsing. The first wide shot of this underground cavern of information/library in the sewers of Southwark is uncannily paralleled to Giles’ literary sanctuary at the heart of Sunnydale High School – right down to the oak table dominating the centre of the room.

In the early series at least, most of Buffy’s demons that she butt-kicked around her home town were designed to in some way mirror the ‘demons’ encountered by teenagers in the real world, and the battles she faced were not dissimilar from those being fought in home rooms and school hallways throughout America. In this way, jerk water polo jocks revealed themselves as reptilian monsters under their speedos and bitchy cheerleaders turned out to be psycho witches practising voodoo to make their rivals spontaneously combust during try-outs.

And to follow suit, what was Luke’s first battle? A small gang of feral-headed ‘hoodies’ emerging from the shadowy back streets of the night-time London cityscape.

Demons will undoubtedly build a small legion of fans – after all, the show has a lot going for it including a talented young cast with some impressive guest turns, and is surfing the concurrent pop cultural waves of Dr. Who and Twilight to guarantee a captive audience (Christian Cooke, who plays our model-esque brooding hero Luke has himself appeared in Dr. Who).

But Buffy it is not. I’d be interested to hear from any fans of both series who think that Luke measures up to our girl’s immense legacy. And from anyone who knows if Joss Whedon is receiving any royalties – for if imitation is indeed the highest form of flattery, for Mr. Whedon, Demons is high praise indeed.

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