The Fades is a new supernatural drama currently airing on BBC Three. The Fades is directed by Farren Blackburn – his CV includes Holby City and Footballers Wives neither of which will ready you for this. It does though include Survivors which may better prepare you its dystopian ground.
For all those with an atheistic disposition please now take a deep breath – the BBC Three webpage for the show describes its premise as ’17-year-old geek Paul can see the spirits of the dead. Now a vengeful spirit – or Fade – has broken through to our world and Paul’s friends and family are in the eye of the storm.’ – now breathe out.
Seventeen-year old Paul, played by Iain De Caestecker, has a younger sister Anna, played by Lily Loveless, and they are twins but in many ways not twins – he is wary of her and she is embarrassed of him. Paul you see is socially isolated and awkward she is a socially isolating and at ease – in short he is too school for cool, she is too cool for school.
They have a doting loving mother and a long-time absent father. Paul has a close friend Mac, played by Daniel Kaluuya. Paul’s sister has a close friend too, Jay, played by Sophie Wu, – and she is more keen to be with Paul than his sister is keen to be with him – will romance bloom between them?
But that is the side-story – the central story as you might expect are The Fades.
The leap of faith we are meant to make with The Fades is not that Paul can see dead people but that some of the spirits are no longer content with wandering aimlessly this bitter earth in concert with similarly desolate lost souls but are now seeking deathly vengeance on the whole human race.
Such programs are staples of the USA Telly Schedules – Reaper’s central character Sam not only has his soul devil-owned but said devil is his father. You might think such circumstances would be kept quiet by Sam but a few of his closest friends have been let in on this diabolic secret and further greeted it with a shrug of the shoulders – and we has viewers are meant to do so too. And strangely after a few episodes we do, thinking nothing of the devil’s son working for the local branch of DIY chainstore ‘The Work Bench’ or that he is a nice guy with not horror and revulsion towards his father rather ambivalence and at most irritation at his satanic filial circumstance!
Alternatively there is Jennifer Love Hewitt as Melinda Gordon, Antique Store Owner and part-time Ghost Whisperer – she also sees Dead People. And as with Reaper her closest bosom-buddy, husband fireman Jim, is quite untroubled by this.
Or boarding school drama Hex where teachers and pupils alike are as likely to inhabit the ancient halls of its Medenham Estate as the nether worlds of hell.
Let alone the currently favoured and fashionable Vampire genre – where we the viewers are expected a unison shrug of our existential shoulders that quite a greater number of our friends and acquaintances than we might think are centuries not decades old, hell-born and/or hell-bound, blood-lusting carnal creatures.
Because we are meant to accept that there is no need to suspend our disbelief, as this genre is not science fiction rather every-day tales of our supernatural existence.
But all of this matters not if the story is well-written, plotted and acted – is The Fades worth sixty minutes a week of our (in)finite time?
The Fades are certainly frightening looking – up there with the Doctor Who Sea Monsters from the 1970’s and The Peg Dolls from this year’s Night Terrors episode – and the nether-world which the victims of The Fades inhabit is also convincingly horrific and desolate. The bleak environments of the human world preferable to the waking nightmare Fades world, being covered in what looks like the dust generated by the collapsing Twin Towers of 9/11 and the horrific realization of what that dust contains.
The Fades perhaps is suggesting a metaphor for an existence where too many of us are content to fade into each other? Fade into the background, moving wallpaper – I half-expected Mazzy Star’s Fade Into You to appear on the soundtrack at intermittent points. And that such spirits can only be defeated by all of us reclaiming and proclaiming loudly our individuality?
But I am not sure that these Fades are meant to be metaphorical. I have watched the opening episode and there are five more episodes in this first series to be aired and for me to establish the real (super)nature and intent of The Fades.
And hoping that while doing so it does not fade into the television schedule twilight.
- THE FADES Are Coming (hamiltonhodell.wordpress.com)
- The Fades – BBC3, 9pm (mirror.co.uk)
- The Fades S1 E1 (BBC3) (takingtheshortview.wordpress.com)
- Last night’s TV: Fresh Meat; The Fades (guardian.co.uk)