Monday, September 26, 2005

Gods 1x02 - 'Say Bye to Me'

WRITTEN BY: Emma Platt
PREMIERE DATE: 14/08/2005
PRODUCED BY: Monster Zero Productions

After the drastic changes in her life, death, resurrection, becoming a Goddess, Jayne is struggling to accept her destiny. Matters are complicated further when the Elder Keepers instruct Benjamin to allow tough Gaynor, and her cocky young God protege Leo, to share his training warehouse, along with un-mentored young Goddess April Clay. And also there's just the other small matter of Jayne unexpectedly attending her own funeral......

A great deal of follow up episodes to a pilot end up coming off as extensions to it's predecessor, especially if the concept and characters are too large and too many to introduce in one fifty-minute teleplay. At times, this extension can work and provide a follow-up that actually eclipses the pilot (see Somewhere Inbetween). At other times it can end up creating a second episode that comes across as quite weak, with a great deal of elements that should have been provided in the opener, whether at fifty or a hundred pages. Unfortunately, this is the case with Gods.

This episode is one still thrashing out the opening details, and consequently it seems far too reminiscent of the pilot. There are too many instances of the Gods being told about things coming up for them, and it gets frustratingly repetitive. It can be expected of the pilot, but the next episode should take the story somewhere. And while it can be argued this episode fully introduces the rest of the main cast and has Jayne dealing with her situation through attending her own funeral, there is a surprising amount of in-action in this episode. Very little actually happens, and for my money there is absolutely nothing here that couldn't have been incorporated into a slightly longer pilot.

Another problem is that the characters, save Benjamin, are very rapidly becoming irritating and tiresome. Now, I understand that the show is about teenagers essentially coming to terms with losing their friends and families to serve a greater good (a theme we are bludgeoned with in this episode, frankly), but right now the Gods are childish and unsympathetic brats. I don't like the fact i'm finding it difficult to warm to the protagonist, Jayne. I think it's perhaps at times she's just a bit too caustic, spikey, and any potentially meaningful scenes that could have given depth to her character are destroyed by a one-liner or a visual gag. A perfect instance is her in the church listening to her brother's eulogy, a touching moment written well, until her arm suddenly bursts into flame. Sure, it's a neat way of demonstrating the manifestation of her powers, but it totally ruins the scene. While I can forgive the fact Leo is unlikeable, as he's clearly meant to be that way, there's no excuse for not liking Jayne. This needs to change.

My other main gripe has to be the plot, or lackthereof as is the case. As I said before, very little actually happens. The pilot should have established all these characters and began episode two with much more of a threat to all of them. All through this episode, the characters talk about the impending arrival of bad guys, the so-called Dark Gods, but it's only in the final moments do we get any glimpse of these. It's a nice way of ending the episode, but by then the frustration I had with it overcame any desire for the ending to do what it should have: leave me wanting more. While creator Emma Platt is clearly making an attempt to establish characters before rushing into plot, and is to be commended for that, the balance isn't quite right here.

When I reviewed the pilot, I said I hadn't made my mind up about Gods. While this review would indicate I have, and it's to the negative, the truth is I still haven't. There were elements I liked: Benjamin is a nicely-written character, and the moment he confesses he gave up his family to pursue his belief that Jayne would enter his life, is a highlight; the teaser is well-written, nicely linking Jayne's frustration at learning of a past she doesn't want to know with the relateable frustrations of school as a teenager; and the moment at the end on the roof where the Keepers explain what's at stake is a good scene. However, the narrative right now just isn't grabbing me. Everything is just a bit too repetitive and bland right now, the characters rejects from the Buffyverse, and the concept doesn't have enough layers to grab me. It's a very simplistic show right now. Sure, it's only just started, but other online shows have started with much more depth than this. I'll keep reading, but a big improvement is needed.

GRAMMAR: 0.5/2
STYLE: 0/2
DEPTH: 1/2



At 11:23 PM, Blogger Matt said...

Matt (Xandmatt) Latham here

I personally think this episode is a lot better than the pilot as it lays down some interesting foundations for future episodes and does build-up more the characters.

Having read up to episode 8, there is some good stuff here - yet repetition does sink in and a lot of ideas do seem wasted.

With Benjamin, I think it might be the fact that they use Ryan from The O.C. as his 'look', but I can't help but feel as if there's some sort of 'boredom' inbetween his lines, as if all of the stuff he says were forced and repeated quotes from textbooks.

Some great episodes are shown later on, but some (ep 8) are dogged down but stalling tactics to get one real major development across.

They also make a huge mistake (which they've cleared up now) and refer to Leo being a teenager, even using a fake ID (even though he's 21) in ep 7.

There's a lot going for this, I really hope that it improves.


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