I still find myself thinking about Demons. And missing it.
Yes, I know what was wrong with it - criminal negligence whilst in possession of an opportunity, basically - but I think it’s what it could have been, what it could have developed into, that I miss.
I’ve only written the one fic in the fandom, but I do find the characters are in my mind a lot of the time. Not talking, especially, or doing anything that cries out to be written down, but I did get to like them.
Quincey was amazing - creepy and sexy, intimate and intimidating, slimy and handsome, all at the same time. And Ruby! Ruby was brilliant, easily my favourite character, and I was very, very surprised to find I was ’shipping her and Galvin. I never really got why people didn’t like her; she had her part to play, which was to be us - asking the awkward questions, pulling these people out of their excluding little bubble of unreality, anchoring the whole thing in something that approximated to the real world. Some people moaned about her clothes, but they looked perfectly normal to me; I rarely even noticed them. It was Mina’s clothes that struck me as wrong; always dressed as if for the concert stage, even while hanging around the Stacks. And three or four changes per episode.
And Galvin. Oh, Phil. I’d have to say, that if that’s the character after you’ve fought the directors to stop them making him too much like Gene, then it’s no wonder you felt you were a grumpy bastard to work with on this series. It can’t be much fun, signing up for what was presented as a cameo, a little easy-going, light relief in between seasons of Ashes to Ashes, and then finding you’re the lead, carrying the PR burden alone, and with some of the clunkiest dialogue ever heard outside of Bonekickers.
They could have done so much more with that character; with all of them, of course, but Rupert Galvin had it in him to be so much more, but the writing let him down badly. All those “thees” and “thous” at the beginning didn’t work, to say the least of it, and it felt to me as if Phil was trying to play him as a man of depth and complexity while the writers were happy to leave him as an empty shell, a foil for the pretty boy hero.
Oh yeah, the hero. Luke. Possibly the most boring hero of all time. Very well played by Christian Cooke, who I remember as putting across a lot of feeling in his Doctor Who role. It can’t be easy, acting a person totally devoid of personality, although I think that was possibly how the character was designed - the point being that he is an ordinary guy, very ordinary indeed, who just doesn’t want to be part of all this intrigue and excitement. From that point of view, your standard action superhero simply wouldn’t have fitted the bill, and I did get to quite like Luke; certainly the character needed to be ordinary to work. A hero who chewed up the villains, and the scenery, while obviously relishing the excitement and the danger, would not have suited the way the story was framed. Still, not an easy part to play.
I don’t imagine we will be getting another series, for all that ITV say that nothing has been decided. I know Phil has said he won’t be doing any more, and that is hardly surprising. If there is more, I doubt very much whether I would watch without him. Indeed if it weren’t for Phil being in it, and thus it being a topic of conversation at places I go to online, I doubt if we in our house would ever have heard of the show.
Which leads me to the final point - who was it made for? It was on quite late for “Saturday family viewing” and got later during the run. Every week we expected to find it scheduled earlier - about five thirty or six o’clock would have worked - and every week it was even later, like they thought it was something that could hold a serious audience just by being shoved in front of them.
It was advertised as being dark and scary, and with the “hero” being a teenager, it seemed a reasonable assumption that they were going for a teenaged audience. In fact, I saw somewhere that they were “targeting”, and I use the word extremely loosely, the 16-35 age group. All right, so there’s not a soul in our household fits into that, and I don’t mind not enjoying a show if I can see how it serves the target demographic.
But this shambles? If it really was made for 16 to 35-year-olds, someone has a very unflattering view of that age group’s intelligence. It was signposted for five-year-olds, for God’s sake. The focussing on road signs at changes of scene as if we couldn’t work out for ourselves that this was Luke’s flat if we hadn’t seen the road name first? The editing of the Alice episode, where mentions of a dastardly female were followed immediately by cutting to pictures of Alice? OK, children haven’t necessarily picked up that the villain of the week is always the new character - and wouldn’t it be worth occasionally starting a series with three or four spare characters, so you could use some of those as surprise villains? - but when it’s painfully obvious to everyone except the hero that it’s her, you have to wonder why they’re making it a “mystery” at all.
So, it’s a little difficult to work out why I still miss this show, but somewhere along the line, Phil and Holly and Christian did a damn good job of transcending the terrible writing (actually, Ruby had some great lines - I’m never going to forget “can’t you hear it?”) to develop likeable characters that I wanted to get to know better. And now I probably won’t get the chance.