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Monday, 31 May 2010

Friday The 13th

So for some reason that my technologically stunted brain doesn't understand we still get the horror channel through on the Sky box, despite no longer paying a subscription. I thought that the channels still coming through might correspond with the channels you'd get through a Freeview box but when I hooked one of them up recently there was little crossover in channel availability on the two systems.

None of which is important. This is about the programming, and of late the horror channel has come up trumps for me.

Friday the 13th : The Series is a curious beast, bearing as it does absolutely no discernible links with the movie series. It focuses on an antiques shop which, following the death of it's owner, falls into the hands of a niece and nephew. Great pains are gone to to emphasise that they are cousins by marriage only, to ensure that the requisite will they/won't they sexual spark can be played up. Although it does then fizzle out quite quickly to be replaced by a quite sparky and endearing Brother/Sister vibe. So much so that when the writers remember and have them be flirtatious again it feels a little awkward and just plain wrong. Ryan (John D. LeMay) and Mickey (Louise Robey, credited simply as Robey) are shocked to find that Uncle Louis had done a deal with the Devil and many of the items being sold in the shop are cursed. They set out, with the help of Jack (Chris Wiggins), an old friend and business contact of Louis, to retrieve these cursed items.

The series follows the trio as they collect items as diverse as a compact that makes men fall in love with the owner, a scarecrow that guarantees good crops, a scalpel that gives the surgeon perfect results on the table and a quilt which literally makes dreams come true when you sleep under it. The catch in all of these cases being that they require human sacrifice to make them work. It's all pretty formulaic, with some terrible acting from the guest (and occasionally regular) cast and the special effects leave a lot to be desired, but overall it's as good as you'd expect from a network television show trying to tell the kind of full blooded horror stories you would see in the slasher movie genre from which it took it's name.

To be fair, the writers and producers do push the boundaries of acceptable content, getting away with a lot more than was the norm for the time, especially with some quite nasty sexual threat aimed at Mickey in a number of episodes. One episode springs to mind however, where they chickened out big time. Happy as they were to bring their lead female to the brink of rape on a number of occasions they came over all coy when it was time to kill a few little kids. An episode that sees two neglected kids escape into a happy fantasy land by way of a cursed playhouse which demands children be sacrificed to it was notable as the only episode not to feature any deaths, as it turns out that the kids were in another reality and were returned at episodes end. Why the Devil would see fit to set this curse in particular to be non-lethal is not explained. He's obviously just a big softy at heart.

Anyway, I have now reached the end of Season 2 and apparently I have a cast change to look forward to, with a new recurring character having just arrived on the scene who will permanently replace Ryan in Season 3. I'm tempted to say that I think this is a good thing as LeMay is consistently the weakest link, but I'll reserve judgement. The new guy could turn out to be even worse, although he's looking good so far.
There actually seems to be something of a little proto arc plot spluttering into life here in the latter stages of S2, with the Devil actively recruiting agents to go after the heroes, as he's sick of them interfering in his plans in one episode and Louis old coven trying to infiltrate the store to retrieve items in the finale. Of course ths could come to nothing and never be mentioned again but it gave me hope that maybe the show was breaking free from it's oh so stringent formula, if only slightly. The slight change of direction coming at the same time as the new cast member makes me think changes are afoot.

One interesting thing that I have discovered while writing this post is that, while there remains no link between the show and the movies - a rumoured potential episode about the team tracking down Jasons mask was apparently just that, a rumour - one guy wrote a series of novels that managed to tie the series and the movies up to that point in a single continuity. I may well have to track them down.

The big question with this show is whether I go to the computer screens now that horror has ended it's run of season 2, or move on to something else and wait for them to get around to the next batch of episodes. Time will tell.

Next : Freddy's Nightmares. Another big screen to small screen jump, but this time the actors along for the ride.

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