Today, Ted Asregadoo reviews the latest supernatural series to come from BBC America. How does it stack up with he network’s other hit shows like Life on Mars and Being Human? Don’t ask me! Let Ted tell you.
The Fades on BBC America had the unfortunate luck of premiering after the epic 49’ers/Saints game that had more surprises than anything that was on TV that day. Quite a lot to top, but The Fades did manage to keep me interested in the characters, even if the plot was, at times, predictable.
Part of BBC America’s “Supernatural Saturday” line up, The Fades has a kind of “been there-done that” premise, but peppers the major story arc with a nicely written geeky teen awkwardness that balances the overly dramatic premise. The story has a kind of Harry Potterish quality to it, sans going to Hogwarts and playing with magic wands. After a fractured and scattered set up, the story locks in by centering on Paul (Iain de Caestecker) who’s struggling with a number of psychological issues. For example, he’s plagued by apocalyptic dreams, he wets the bed, has trouble talking to girls, is struggling with the divorce of his parents, and after a series of events, sees strange looking people no one else can see. That’s quite a lot for a teenage boy to shoulder. Fortunately for Paul, he has a loyal (and equally geeky) friend in Mac (Daniel Kaluuya) — who provides both comic relief and genuine support for Paul.
The major story arc centers on the dead who have not “ascended” to their final resting place. There isn’t any rhyme or reason why some ascend and others are left on earth to wander in a kind of purgatory of loneliness. But we do find out that those who do not ascend from this earthly boundary to the great unknown become quite angry at their plight – and blame humans for it. Only a select few can see these dead folks – who are called “Fades” – and, yes, Paul is one of them. But that’s not even half of it. Seems there’s a Fade who is able to take corporeal form and is able to kill humans. The more this Fade kills humans, the stronger he gets and the closer he is to wiping all of humanity off the face of the earth – which is foreshadowed in Paul’s dreams.
What can Paul do to stop this Fade – and others like him? Not much at this point since he is just learning about Fades and his special powers. What Paul mostly wants in the pilot is to get with Jay – a girl with whom he has a deep crush, but cannot bring himself to talk to without sounding “mental.” Couple that with the fact that Jay (Sophie Wu) is friends with Paul’s twin sister, Anna (Lily Loveless), makes for some good soap opera moments because Anna really hates Paul and can’t quite understand why they are related. There are other elements to the story that involve Paul’s history teacher, his estranged (and recently killed) wife who had the same gift as Paul, and Paul’s mentor who is trying to help him harness his powers to save humanity.
Overall, the pilot episode of The Fades was compelling. Add to that the fact that the creators of the series decided to layer in an “awkward teen” sub plot which helped to elevate the show beyond a hodgepodge of fantasy/horror plot retreads to a show that has real promise if it remains true to a number of elements – the most important of which is the focus on British suburban teens.