This weekend marked the season finale of this limited run BBC series, The Fades, and I suppose one could say that it took us for a ride. There was plenty of emotional character drama to shock and awe, completely ignoring the ridiculous character deaths that were just there for shock value (I’m not entirely sure that their gratuitous blood baths were necessary for plot or just as a “shocking plot twist”… notice the amount of gratuitous uses of the word “shock” in this post), and leaves the show with a satisfying enough ending that if it doesn’t get picked up next season I won’t be upset, but if it is, I will be pleased.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Before I get into the ridiculous drama that was the season finale (think season finale of Being Human last year), I really should address some concerns that I have for British television in general. Due to the recent onslaught of shows that have released and will be picked up that are US versions of UK shows, I feel it is valuable to take a minute and think about why we like their TV and why we feel this strong need to make it ours (a.k.a. better). Unfortunately, my assessment is not the kindest. Which is pretty scary, since I watch a fair amount of British television. Admittedly, I don’t always watch “the best quality” stuff. I have some guilty pleasures. But I’ve actually reached a point where I’m not even sure why I watch the stuff.
Now I recognize that it’s part of the television show to be formulaic. If it wasn’t, we wouldn’t watch it. That’s just how TV works. But like all things, the UK manages to take it to an extreme which is just scary and annoying. They definitely have a thing for the younger cast, especially the youngsters with super powers (Misfits anyone? I can even go Being Human too if you give me a minute). I think they find something incredibly appealing about the youngsters doing what the older generation couldn’t. Plus there’s the annoying end of the world motif that is just all over the place (Doctor Who, Being Human, and Merlin to name a few). Joss Whedon does it all the time too, and while I love his stuff, that is one thing that is sure to drive me insane. And I’m going to avoid commenting on the sidekicks, because it is just unfair to hate on them for being just too annoyingly spunky… and probably not on the good end of the social ladder. Plus, there is the mad skill that only they can get away with: removing a good chunk of the main cast, and still having a successful following season (Doctor Who, Skins, Primeval, Being Human… should I even go on?). I’m still trying to figure out how they do that. I think it has to do with the fact that the seasons are so short that they don’t even give you a chance to have an attachment with the characters, so you don’t really care when they go. I could go on with more, but I really am trying to not read too much into this.
Which brings me to the final concern: The season finale. Now I recognize that cliffhangers are good for season finales. You have to give the viewers a reason to come again next time (particularly with their obsession with the limited run… that’s a long time to wait each year for only 4-8 episodes). But this is just bordering in the ridiculous. I think I’m actually going to drop Doctor Who this year, because I’m just sick of the cliffhangers and the crazy shocking ending seconds before the episode is over. This is one thing that British television is really good at, and I’ve watched enough of it that it’s finally reached overkill. Even when I am shocked, because I know that I will be shocked, it’s just not shocking anymore. Could you at least TRY to make something original? What you’ve got now is not it.
So without putting in any spoilers, I will say the The Fades season finale will definitely make you go “What the Frak?!” And the show itself does have some high points (the sidekick here is definitely one of my favorite British sidekicks) which lead to having a definite good time on the drama-llama train. There is sufficient intrigue to make you want to see more from the start, and is probably worth a watch if supernatural stuff is remotely your thing. Unfortunately for me, I’ve seen enough of it, and am not going to be incredibly sad that it’s over until next season. I might watch upcoming seasons, but more out of curiosity than for a love of the show.