Monday, September 19, 2005

Gods 1x01 - 'Pilot'

WRITTEN BY: Emma Platt & Lee. A. Chrimes
PREMIERE DATE: 07/08/2005
PRODUCED BY: Monster Zero Productions

After being savagely attacked at work, seventeen-year-old Jayne Woods wakes up to find herself dead. Approached by an enigmatic young man named Benjamin, she is told her soul is that of a Goddess, and he is the Keeper sworn to protect her. Jayne struggles to accept being plunged into a new world in which the supernatural is real, where she holds powers beyond her comprehension, and from which she will never be able to return.....

Every successful television phenomenon suffers from what could be termed the 'clone syndrome'. Fantastic, original ideas which are cannibalised from by new shows, rebadged with different names and faces while essentially being the same product. In some cases, this can lead to a success that equals and/or betters it's illustrious predecessor. I don't think anyone would argue that Babylon 5, at it's best, deserves to be held in the same regard as the best Star Trek has to offer. And then, inevitably, you get lacklustre copies. For every X-Files, you get a Dark Skies or Psi Factor. Which brings us neatly to Gods, which in almost every concievable way, is a repackaged Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The question is: are we talking here of a clone that deserves to be held in the same regard as it's primary inspiration, or deserves to sink at the earliest opportunity? With the greatest of honesty, based on this pilot, I haven't yet made my mind up.

What leaves me somewhat non-plussed about Gods is the fact it's in no way an original concept. Actually, no, the concept is original, it's the presentation that feels recycled from a particular, vampire-slaying show in particular. I mean, let's see: the protagonist is a sparky young female with a sharp, sarcastic wit; she finds herself with supernatural powers and has been 'called' to battle forces of evil intent on destroying the Earth; her family have no idea about the truth (admittedly because they think she's dead); and she is looked out for by a Keeper (read: Watcher), who studies ancient books and prophecies concerning the deities and their foes, part of a larger council of similiar protectors. Come on, all that's missing here is the ensemble of geeky/sarcastic friends who end up becoming entangled, sometimes unwittingly, in her adventures. A dynamic I could very well see added at some point in the future. From this pilot, the whole thing just seems like a case of ticking off the elements already seen numerous times before.

That's not to say this opening episode is inherently bad. Despite the misgivings I may have on the originality the style of the concept has been developed into, the writing and the characters themselves are indeed rather good. Jayne Woods makes an appealing protagonist and we do manage to capture the feelings she undergoes after such a life (or death) changing situation. The moment she returns to her family, only to find they can no longer see or hear her and think her dead, is particularly well done. It's the moment of realisation for her: she can't go back to that life, because for her it no longer exists. She may still be tethered to this sphere, but she now inhabits an entirely different plane of existence now where the supernatural is, in many ways, the mundane. And through her we do get a rich vein of humour that elevates the story. You can tell Lee Chrimes has a hand in this pilot. He imbues the relationship between Jayne & Benjamin with the same quality in some ways as that of Chris & Twist from his own show Somewhere Inbetween. In this case, simply, the roles are reversed, gender-wise.

The character of Benjamin himself is an interesting creation. It's perhaps a testament to Chrimes and series creator Emma Platt that the character comes across as much older than his tender years. He is the mentor to Jayne's clueless young woman, the man with the answers, and quite a fighting skill to boot. Admittedly, the writers don't instantly make him imbued with total and complete knowledge. He has those he reports into, Elder Keepers who clearly have more of an idea about the world Jayne now inhabits as he does. Infact a highlight scene is when we see two of these enigmatic elders, Barbara & Walter, when they visit Jayne. There's a sense of more to both of these than meets the eye and I sense they will crop up again. As regards Benjamin, however, the relationship between he & Jayne is nicely developed throughout. But it suffers from an element of repetition. It's understood this episode is about Jayne's introduction to her new world, but there are just too many instances of Benjamin asking her if she has any questions. At times, his comes across simply as a tool to allow the release of backstory exposition of the Gods world, and it feels a little hackneyed.

As is quite blindingly obvious, I am yet to make up my mind whether I like this show. It's reasonably well written, well formatted, grammar largely in the right place. But it feels somewhat repetitive and at times rather bland, almost simplistic. It does have some standout moments: the creatures Jayne & Benjamin fight are an interesting creation, deserved to be revisited; the introduction of two presumably recurring or regular characters, Gaynor and Leo, is well done and sets the scene nicely for the next installment. Thing is, it just didn't grab me like other shows have. It seems pretty raw right now, filled with acres of potential. But I think it should try and grow out of the angsty, teen Buffy-esque format it has begun with. Otherwise it runs the risk of becoming a bland copy of that illustrious series. And given the writing quality behind this show, and the potential of the characters, that would be a shame. Let's see if it improves.

STYLE: 0.5/5
DEPTH: 0.5/5



At 1:28 AM, Blogger Katrina said...

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I've been reading your blog, and find it very interesting I'm new to blogging but have had a website for a while now. My first site is acommercial steel buildings related site. Yep, I'm a steel building manufacturer/Techie. Weird combo I know.


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