Friday, August 18, 2006

TV REVIEW: Hex (BBC America)

Hex. Rhymes with "sex." And put in an "H" at the beginning for horror.

Described in promotions as a “supernatural coming of age series,” the scintillating adolescent drama Hex began airing on BBC America earlier this summer. Although the series premiered in England (on Sky One) in 2004, BBC America aired all eighteen episodes of the first two seasons in one 2006 sortie. So this is the best time to get hooked.

Hex is set at a countryside boarding school/high school in rural England, called Medenham. There, a beautiful (and promiscuous...) blond student named Cassie (Cole) learns that she’s the reincarnation of a powerful witch. Her roommate, a lesbian named Thelma (Rooper) is killed in a terrible scene, and then becomes Cassie’s constant companion and an incorporeal ghost (who can only change her fashions by stealing the clothes off corpses...)

Meanwhile, Cassie falls in love with a hunky and dangerous bad boy named Azazeal (Fassbender), but he’s actually a creature called a ‘Nephilim,’ a fallen angel who hopes to breed with a human and launch a new war with Heaven. Guess who Azazeal’s chosen to be the mother of his child? Worse, as Thelma learns, these events have repeated over and over again through history, with the women in Cassie’s role all suffering horrible deaths.

Cassie is briefly possessed by a demon, and in that compromised state has sexual intercourse with Azazeal, an act which effectively brings about the beginning of the end of days. After an accelerated pregnancy, she gives birth to a son, Malachai, who - once grown - can release two hundred Nephilim monstrosities from their prisons. The only way to stop the apocalypse is by killing Malachai, but that’s understandably difficult for Cassie, the boy’s mother. Another problem: if the baby dies, order in the universe is restored and Cassie will no longer be able to communicate with the ghostly Thelma.

Soon, Ella (Pyper) arrives at Medenham. She’s a witch-hunter determined to stop Azazeal hellbent on murdering Malachai. Other cast members on Hex include Roxanne (Sainsbury), a ravenous schoolgirl trying desperately to deflower a handsome instructor at the school who also happens to be Azazeal’s minion. And Leon (Davis) is Ella’s confused boyfriend, also doomed to some unpleasant “growing pains.”

Critic W.M. Stephen Humphrey at The Portland Mercury insightfully termed Hex “Buffy the Vampire Slayer crossed with late-night Cinemax,” because the series boasts graphic sex scenes with plenty of female nudity. As for the Buffy metaphor, it is appropriate for numerous reasons. Cassie’s relationship with a hulking, brooding, 200-plus year old “monster,” dramatically recalls Buffy’s relationship with the sometimes good/sometimes soul-less vampire, Angel. Fans will also remember that Buffy’s witch friend, Willow became a lesbian in later seasons, and here Rooper - a similar friend supporting character, also plays a woman of alternate sexual persuasion. Man-eater Roxanne is also heavily reminiscent of Charisma Carpenter’s selfish Cordelia character, concerned only with fashion, sex and herself. There’s even a strong accent on comedy and wisecracks, so Hex could - at least on first glance - be aptly termed a clone of the more popular American series.

However, Hex is more frankly and openly sexual, and in some terrible sense, darker than its American cousin. The characters are frequently faced with terrible decisions (like aborting a child that could destroy the world...). They also often act more selfishly and unheroically than the more likable Buffy characters. In one episode, for instance, Thelma makes an alliance with Azazeal to get something she alliance that nearly kills Ella.

Also, without revealing too much, Hex brazenly pulls a Psycho-style trick mid-way through its second season, killing off a main character and throwing the entire series into disarray and chaos. This move will leave faithful viewers reeling. Finally, Hex features fewer and less impressive special effects than Buffy the Vampire Slayer did, but as characters fumble and fight, and darkness encroaches inevitably on mankind, the series becomes more and more compelling as a statement about tomorrow’s generation heading over the precipice.

A third season lands in America in the summer of 2007...and it’s going to be a long wait. If you miss Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Hex isn't quite the same, but it is an adequate substitute, and getting better on an episode-by-episode basis.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous8:30 PM

    A third season of Hex?

    There is no third season as such, as the show has been cancelled.

    Season 1 has 5 episodes, and Season 2 has 13. And it's over after that.

    Unfortunately for us the ratings dropped drastically during the second second in the UK and the show has ended.


Shatner Week: Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989)

One of the most oft-requested reviews on this blog, -- before my original post back in the day -- was  Star Trek V: The Final Frontier  ...