Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Urban Gothic Season 1 (2000)

The back-of-case text promises that this show takes British Horror "out of the museum and into the city", which I'm pretty sure is a nicer way of saying "not just re-heated Hammer Horror scripts, we promise".

Does the show deliver on the implication of something new and different?  Well, from Hammer, certainly.  There's definitely a focus on urban settings, and on stories involving working class or socially-disaffected characters, especially teenagers and young adults.  One of the episodes might be described as "Grange Hill goes slasher movie", for instance.  Also, there's a lot more ethnic diversity in this show than in anything Hammer ever did (but then, that's not a high bar to clear)

More important than newness and difference: is it any good?

Wellllllll ....

It's uneven.  It's not helped by a weak start, either: the first episode in particular is a poor one, I think.  That said, even the stronger episodes tend to have issues with their execution.  I feel like the weekly anthology format probably was a little beyond them: it's tough to have to introduce characters, set stakes, and have a satisfying conclusion at the best of times, let alone while packing it into 22 minutes.

So what we tend to get is stories that don't feel like they've been 'fully cooked'.  Several of the episodes have interesting premises, but almost every episode feels like the scripts could have done with two or three more drafts to iron out all the issues.  They aren't always huge problems (though they sometimes are: the end of the Grange Hill episode I mentioned above is a terrible one, for instance), but they are noticeable.  An example: the werewolf episode relies on certain points on the lycanthropes exhibiting similar behavioural traits to lions.

One would think that if you specifically identify them as werewolves, that their behaviour should be wolf-like, no?

Some people might appreciate the rough and unpolished outcomes, but I wish they'd had more time to develop their scripts.  If they had, I probably would have felt comfortable giving them a qualified recommendation.  As is, check it out only if you have a thing for horror-themed short stories.

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