Demons comes to DVD

Monday, 06 April 2009 01:00

There are supernatural forces at work in Demons, a six-part series recently seen on ITV1, amongst much fanfare, which is now available on DVD and Blu-Ray from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

The news release advises that “Demons puts a contemporary spin on Bram Stoker’s legendary story, taking place above and beneath the streets of modern-day London. Philip Glenister (cult legend Gene Hunt in Life On Mars and Ashes to Ashes) is Rupert Galvin, a larger-than-life American with a tragic past and a ‘zero tolerance’ policy to the rabble of ‘half-life’ entities that exist all around us. When he appears in the life of Luke Rutherford, his teenage godson (Christian Cooke, Brae Marrack in Echo Beach), little does the teenager know what will be thrust upon him.”

Demons debuts on DVDLuke soon learns that he is the last descendent of Abraham Van Helsing, the fearless vampire killer who originally took on the deadly Count Dracula, and that it is his destiny to smite the half-lives who stalk our streets. With this news, Luke and his best friend Ruby (Holly ‘Holliday’ Grainger, who played Megan Boothe in Where The Heart Is, alongside Christian Cooke’s character of Luke Kirkwall) are catapulted into a world filled with vampires, demons and zombies.

At the same time they must struggle to balance a normal life with hard-assed training led by the beautiful, blind and frosty Mina Harker (Zoe Tapper, taking time off from playing Anya Raczynski in the re-imagining of Survivors, with a character named after one in Bram Stoker’s works). Saskia Wickham plays Jenny Rutherford, Luke's mother who spends the series fearing that Luke is becoming just like his father.

Demons features its fair share of guest stars, including Richard Wilson as Father Simeon, Martin Hancock as Redlip, Kevin R McNally as Mr Tibbs, Laura Pyper as Grace, and MacKenzie Crook as the sinister Gladiolus Thrip, a vampire with a deep-seated hatred for the Van Helsings and all they stand for.

Ratings wise, the show began with a respectable 5.8 million for its debut episode, not entirely unexpected given the high profile PR campaign mounted by ITV to get people to tune in.  However, the sixth episode concluded proceedings with a series low of 3.42 million.

Indeed, the future of the series was terminated when The Sun leaked the news that Philip Glenister had announced his plans to quit any second season that was in the works.

Glenister came under fire for his American accent on the show, upon which the only kind thing to say was that it was on ‘factory demo’ setting. He had defended the choice of using the accent, explaining that he “wanted the challenge”. However, it was a distraction to what he was saying, rather than playing the opposite Trans-Atlantic crossing that Anthony Head’s Englishman Giles in Buffy had brought us.

In truth, Demons was hardly the worst series ever made. Amongst adults without children, there was obviously the hope that this would be an adult and post-watershed show along the lines of the aforementioned Buffy.  For that audience, it was easy to forget the censorship and cuts inflicted upon Buffy by the BBC then they screened the series in a similar timeslot to that occupied by Demons.

So, perhaps the biggest crime that Demons committed was aiming for a family rather than adult audience.  It was a trick that was ably pulled off by ITV’s own Primeval, which in turn had learned the trick from the BBC’s resurrection of Doctor Who.  Indeed, in this day and age, the audience figures for Demons were hardly damning – they did put a lot of fellow ITV shows to shame, but drama like this is expensive, so has to carry big numbers with it to please the advertisers. So, much like the movie “Watchmen”, which decided to jettison any pandering to a non-adult audience, maybe considering its subject matter, Demons should have decided to do the same, and go for a post-watershed 9.00pm slot?

But would the advertisers have approved of such a series, never mind the public at large?

So, for those who missed the series, this DVD and Blu-Ray set is a chance to judge for yourselves whether the show was simply misunderstand.  However, the only dark side to this particular release is the absolute and complete lack of any special features or extras.

In this day and age, any show wanting to wear some form of ‘cult’ stripes has to explore beyond the episodes themselves.  Perhaps this is a sign that even those releasing this disc had decided to cut their losses?

Certainly, that would be an attitude that Rupert Galvin would not have approved of …

Demons is available on DVD (RRP £19.99) and Blu-Ray (RRP £29.99), or less from www.culttvstore.com

Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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