Friday, October 28, 2011

TV Review: The Fades

I nearly missed this. I suspect a lot of people did. Late on a Wednesday night, BBC3, I never saw much publicity for it, and if it wasn't for some strong support from Twitter people I would never have seen this show. I've tried to push people I know, people with similar tastes to me to watch it, and most of them had never heard of it either. And that's a damn shame, because The Fades is one of the best shows I've seen this year.

I guess at first glance it doesn't look like much - a little bit of Skins, a little bit of a supernaturally themed Misfits, the first episode is light on the horror, and up on the quips, and awkward teenage angst, and the usual sort of "discovering secret powers as an analogy for growing up" thing that Young Adult fiction is so full of. But this isn't Young Adult fiction, and this isn't light on horror, and the youth of it's main characters is misleading - this is already grown up, proper, dark, horrific stuff.

At it's heart is Paul (Iain De Caestecker), 17 years old, dorky, who discovers he's an "angelic" - a human with magical powers - and is dragged into a growing war between Angelics and the eponymous "Fades", increasingly angry ghosts who have been unable to "ascend" and are stuck wandering the earth. Stealing pretty much every scene he's in is Paul's best friend Mac (Daniel Kaluuya), and we also get his perpetually angry sister her best friend (and later Paul's girlfriend) to round out the young cast. The whole cast is excellent - really, really, excellent for some of them, notably Mac, who I've mentioned, but head Fade John and dead-in-episode-one-but-still-hanging-around Angelic Sarah.

As the series goes on, and gets less "darkly funny" and more just straight "dark". I certainly didn't laugh once in the finale, although some parts were less horrifically bleak than others. Notable the moment - which you'll know if you've seen it - that had me half off the sofa in shock. Even it's ending is true to that trajectory. Its ballsy television, well executed and with some new and fresh things in the mix. I'd have to be mad to say to it's not without the odd niggle, but in so many places its really investing in trying something different its churlish to mention it.

And really I can't believe they didn't push this more. I can't believe more people haven't seen it. I can't believe they haven't commissioned a second series already. Because it deserves to be watched. If you've not seen it - find it. Watch it.