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Hex: Buffy the Vampire Slayer IN BRITAIN
On first examination, this series might be thought of as a sort of British version of 'Buffy The Vampire Slayer," and indeed its most basic plot description of its first season (blonde teenager with magical destiny fights forces of evil with the aid of her lesbian best friend) does sound somewhat familiar, but unfortunately for the most part this series is severely lacking in Joss Whedon and co.'s snappy dialogue, interesting characters, and surprising and fascinating plot twists. "Hex" instead has only occasional snappy dialogue (the rest being merely serviceable), characters whose personalities shift unexpectedly or who are randomly dropped when it is least expected, and plot twists that aggravate more often than they surprise. Things aren't helped by the fact that it only ran two seasons and ended on a humongous downer.
The show begins with the story of Cassie Hughes (Christina Cole), a student at a remote boarding school, Medenhem Hall, who discovers that she is a witch descended from a long line of witches who used to be associated with Medenhem when it was an estate. She soon discovers that her ancestors also found themselves entwined with the dangerous Azazeal (Michael Fassbender), the leader of the Nephilim, a group of angels who were cast out of Heaven for loving mortal women. Azazeal kills Cassie's best friend, Thelma (Jemima Rooper), a lesbian with an ill-hidden crush on Cassie, and the rest of the first series is about their squaring off. Or rather it should be, but in actuality the first series is mostly about Azazeal attempting to seduce Cassie, in order to give birth to a baby who will in essence be the Antichrist.
The second series picks up where the first left off, but replaces much of the core cast, most notably Cassie. Cole is replaced as heroine by Ella Dee, played by Laura Pyper, who is the immortal daughter of famous alchemist John Dee, and the last of the "anointed ones" (presumably warriors for good, but it's never really explained), who must deal with Azazeal's son Malachi (Joseph Beattie), who is destined to bring about the end of days. Although this series (which is 13 episodes long, better than the first series' 6) has more fighting, it too suffers from an irritating romantic subplot, this time between Ella and Malachi. Many times I wanted the story to just stop trying to force these two together purely for drama's sake (it is evident early on that Malachi is going to remain as a bad guy, and I grew impatient with attempts to mislead the audience into thinking he would switch sides).
Of all the actors, Rooper is perhaps the best. I loved Thelma, who after she dies becomes a ghost haunting the school (or to be more accurate Cassie, the only person besides Azazeal and other ghosts who can see her), delivering the most lines in the show that might actually fit a Joss Whedon production. Every time Rooper smiled her crooked smile or made some snarky quip, I was happy. Also good although tragically underused was Colin Salmon as David Tyrel, the headmaster of Medenhem who really struck me as a truly believable character: quick witted and funny, he obviously cares about his charges at the school, and just in general behaved the most as a real person probably would.
The rest are merely OK. Fassbender does his best to import some gravitas to his character, but he vacillates between Azazeal being truly evil and possessing some specks of goodness in him. This becomes particularly irritating in the few episodes in the second series in which Azazeal appears. Beattie is not up to filling Fassbender's shoes when it comes to being an archvillain, and usually comes off as a petulant brat--which he is, but it becomes hard to respect him as a villain when he is so vain, artless, and selfish.
Both Cole and Pyper do OK in their roles, but neither is much to write home about. Cole is totally unbelievable in any scene involving the supernatural, seeming much more interested in the scenes where she's acting like a typical teenager, while Pyper is OK in the more supernatural scenes (although I find it hard to believe her as someone who is supposed to be roughly 450 years old), but in the more relationship-y scenes, she again seems somehow off, not quite believable.
Jamie Davis, as Leon Taylor, a student who is one of the popular kids who torments and mocks Cassie in the first series, is alright as an actor (he seems believable enough), but is also notable for being pretty much the only character who undergoes major development that is actually believable. It makes sense why and how this complete and utter bastard gradually shifts into being one of the good guys and eventually becomes a fairly likable and sympathetic character. The other two characters who undergo major shifts, however, don't fare so well: both go out of focus for a few episodes and then return, completely changed. One character, conceited and irresponsible, suddenly becomes pure and innocent, while the other, portrayed as a relatively good person, suddenly and mostly offscreen transforms into an impossibly evil creature. With both of these characters (primarily the second) these transformations are way too shocking.
This show dawdles too much in some areas and speeds over other areas. I found myself not really caring one way or the other whether Cassie and Ella or Azazeal and Malachi would ultimately triumph, and both series spends way too much time fostering stupid romantic subplots that go nowhere and mostly just served to annoy me. There was a lot of potential in the story (the Nephilim were an interesting concept as villains, for instance, but nothing was really done with them), but very little of it showed up on screen. Watch it for the amazing Jemima Rooper, or skip it and go watch "Buffy" instead.