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This new series strives to rise above being a British Supernatural, but is there enough scary drama to keep the thing above water....?
BBC / 338 Minutes / 2010 / Unrated / Street Date: February 21, 2012
One feels a stab of desire to scoff when The Fades is referred to as the British Supernatural, but it's hard to muster up a desire to defend the show when its first season is this all over the map. Brits have understood - especially in terms of television material - that creepy-crawly thematic material is hot as hell right now, so they've seasoned some of their more successful exports with it (look at Being Human), but The Fades just doesn't quite work.
Here's where it sounds the most like Supernatural. As it will so often happen in series like this one, poor Paul Roberts (Ian de Caestecker) has a run-in with a mysterious and nasty creature (from beyond the grave...?) and starts having visions. It's when these visions become full-on interactions with spirits that we realize that Paul can see dead people: He's able to follow the actions and thoughts of Fades, spirits who have not (or cannot) ascend to the next level of consciousness after their bodies have given out.
It goes without saying that many of these spirits are friggin' pissed off that they have to huddle around our fair Terra, and those most affected by this notion are the ones that keep Paul up at night. Seeing as it's framed as good old-fashioned melodramatic television, there is a cast of characters that both help and hinder Paul in his newfound quest, and this six-episode arc charts his experiences with entities both organic and, well, ghoulish.
We don't have the brother element here - arguably the scenario that has kept Supernatural so comparatively interesting during its many years on the air - but there's a lot of overlap between that show and The Fades: Season One. Both offer up a frantic, often beguiling mix of spiritual concepts and youthful social evolvement, but even though The Fades has pretty people fending off agents of darkness - always an easy sell - it never gels.