If you're still mourning the loss of Joss Whedon's Buffy the Vampire Slayer, BBC America hopes to ease your pain. Their new teens-fighting-the-underworld series, Demons, premieres this Saturday in the States. We got a sneak peak.
The premise behind Demons, which aired in the UK on ITV earlier in the year, is much the same as Buffy — cute teenager finds out they have an innate ability to battle evil while balancing school, dating, and driving tests (the latter not so well).
In this version the cute teenager is a boy, but like Buffy, Luke Rutherford, played by Christian Cooke (a Gossip Girl clone) has a mentor who teaches him the ways of demon slaying. Rupert Galvin, played by Philip Glenister of UK's Life on Mars, is a sarcastic American, often referred to as the "colonial". He unfortunately is a bit of a drag on the show as he tries too hard to channel CSI: Miami's David Caruso — and well, no one should do that, not even Caruso himself.
Rupert, who was Luke's dead father's demon fighting sidekick, comes back to town to let Luke know that he's the real-life great-great grandson of Abraham Van Helsing. Yes, the Van Helsing made famous as a vampire hunter in Bram Stoker's Dracula. As a Van Helsing, Luke inherits the task of protecting the regular world from the supernatural evils of the underworld.
In the first episode, we get a glimpse of who these goblins are, and the introduction is stellar. First up is Gladiolus Thrip, a sleazy bounty hunter who wears an engraved beak on his nose and has a bit of a Twin Peaks air to him. Best part: He's played by Mackenzie Crook, Gareth from the UK's The Office. The transformation from geek to beast is worth watching the first episode in itself.
By the second episode we learn that Luke and his crew, which includes his mentor, his mortal non-girlfriend, and a hot blind opera singer who has visions, are in charge of solving every strange occurrence in Luke's Sunnydale — London.
Production quality is decent, though some of the special effects can be a bit cheesy. As with most genre television productions, makeup and costume effects beat out the show's CG. The writing is up to par with Whedon, with witty banter between characters that runs the gamut between dark ages humor to painful teen sexual tension and sarcasm.
Is it a bit too similar to Buffy? Sure. But it's not a total replica. It's more like an extension of its predecessor. Or maybe an alternate, male, Buffyverse. Either way, it's entertaining enough that you can forgive it for ripping off the basic premise.
Demons premieres Saturday, January 2 at 10 PM on BBC America.