I don't often wax lyrical about TV shows, largely because I don't have a TV and am therefore limited in my viewing, but something excellent that I came across recently via iPlayer was The Fades, described as a fantasy horror series. Having been disappointed with Being Human, True Blood and other potential Buffy successors in that vein, I didn't have high hopes, but was intrigued enough to give it a go. I'm glad I did. In just six episodes, the Fades managed to dispense with a whole lot of tired fantasy cliches, rolling up and reinventing the vampire/zombie/apocalypse genres into something refreshingly different and really rather good.
A short, six episode series, it was truly disturbing in places, laugh out loud funny in others. The combination of fantasy and humour is something I've craved since Buffy finished in 2003 and while others have tried and failed to achieve it, The Fades hit the right note exactly. A solid cast of stalwarts (including an all too brief appearance from Daniella "This Life" Nardini as a gun slinging lady vicar) and sterling performances from the younger leads - especially central character Paul and his best friend Mac - made for absorbing viewing.
The Fades to which the title refers are a breed of ghost-come-zombie-come-vampires, stuck on earth since the ascension process got broken by too many deaths in the Second World War, desperately bitter and hungry for justice. Noone can see The Fades except The Angelics, who become their nemesis by default as much as anything. About as far from the white-frocked, golden winged biblical vision as you can imagine, the Angelics are a rag tag bunch brought together only by their common ability to see and interact with the Fades. 17 year old Paul is special amongst the Angelics, with additional powers including the ability to heal, and a touching compassion for the Fades. The lines that have traditionally separated goodies from baddies are wonderfully blurred as the the Fades' motives are explored and the accepted interpretation of heaven and hell ripped up and re-imagined.
In between this apocalyptic unravelling, there is plenty of real life emotion and interaction as Paul tries to get on with the business of being a teenager (losing his virginity, getting through college), all the time haunted by terrifying visions of inevitable despair and destruction. I don't want to spoil the outcome for those who haven't seen it, but let's just say the ending is not as one might expect. And all the better for it.
Expect to be unsettled, challenged, disturbed and entertained. Here's a little taster:
Sound like your cup of tea? You can still watch The Fades for another week on iPlayer: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0129tkw/episodes/guide Or you can always go old school and buy the boxed set, of course.