26 July 2009

Fangs a lot

Back in the day, I was a devotee of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I came to the series late - sometime in series four, and the episode with virtually no dialogue to be exact. Once I did, I got seriously hooked on the drama, the witty repartee and the suitably reigned-in angst. The Chosen One battled some big problems (homework, teenage misunderstanding and sending her beloved to hell as well as the weekly vamp patrols), all while managing to keep her dignity in tact wearing extraordinarily short skirts. I loved me some Spike too, although at heart I was more of an Angel girl, even though I didn't find the series Angel as compelling as Buffy.

(As an aside, it was Buffy, together with Jane Austen, that introduced me to the joys of the worldwideinterweb and fanfic in the early days. I remember trawling through the excellent buffyguide.com for a synopsis of episodes I missed, because back then VHS tapes of television programmes were expensive.)

I've not really been much interested in vampy-flavoured literature or drama since then, but here I am ten years later completely entranced with them again. It seems I'm not alone, as suddenly vampires and the human gals who love them are absolutely everywhere, rating their moody socks off. Here's what I've been watching lots of lately.

Although rather similar to Angel (without the supernatural overtones), I found the one-series wonder Moonlight most entertaining. Vampire detective, pledging not to bite any human unless absolutely necessary, Mick St John had great chemistry with the heroine of the story, journalist and human Beth. It's glossy and disposable television, if a bit twee, but thoroughly enjoyable.

Much more compelling is TrueBlood, the first series of which I have nearly finished watching and am now completely hooked on, just like in the old days of Buffy. These are people - both un-dead and alive - behaving very badly indeed, but so sharply written that you can't help feeling sympathy for almost every character. It's set in the South, full of oppressive heat and a sense of decay, and twangy accents. I particularly like the plot device of having vampires coming out into mainstream society (albeit only at night), rather than hiding away in the shadows.

Most of all, I like the way the character of Bill, a 173 year old vampire, is portrayed. He retains something of his time - the Civil War - in his speech, manners and clothing. Great acting and writing indeed; I'm about to start reading the first of the Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlaine Harris, which the series is based on. They are meant to be a fantastic read.

Of course, there's also the biggest vampire-fest around - the Twilight juggernaut. I've read a couple of the novels, and found that while they can be engaging, it is essentially far too teenage angsty for my taste. (And, yes, I know that I am way out of the demographic it's intended for.) I liked the film better.

But seriously, Edward Cullen needs to get over himself already, as this brilliant Twilight/Buffy mash-up proves.

All most entertaining, but why can't we have a series in which the troubled vampire is female, struggling with what she has become, living in the contemporary world struggling with her doomed attraction to a human male? Is it too much to ask?

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