'The Fades' is a 6 part supernatural horror serial, currently showing on BBC Three, that centres around a teenage boy (Paul - Iain De Caestecker of 'Lip Service' and 'Coronation Street') and his inadvertent stumbling into a battle between the living and the dead. This will only be a quick review, as I often think it's unfair to judge a whole serial solely on the first episode.
Whilst on a location/prop scouting hunt with his horror-obsessed friend Mac, Paul sees a man (Neil - Johnny Harris of 'New Tricks' and 'Whitechapel') and woman (Sarah - Natalie Dormer of 'The Tudors' and 'Game of Thrones' soon too) embroiled in a grisly fight with some kind of creature. When he returns home, Paul begins having apocalyptic nightmares, which are so terrifying that they cause him to wet the bed. I wouldn't have mentioned the bed-wetting specifically, but they make quite a big deal out of it in the show.
Neil later finds Paul at home and explains that the creature he saw was a "Fade", which are the ghosts of the dead who's souls do not "ascend" after they die. It isn't about good and evil, Heaven and Hell; the ascension is completely random. Those who ascend move onto somewhere else, and those who do not are trapped on Earth, eternally wandering in a land they cannot touch. However, a "Fade" has managed to break through to the human world and is now on a killing spree, and Neil fears that more angry souls may follow suit. So, of course, he and the others fighting the Fades (including Helen, a female priest played by Daniela Nardini of 'This Life') need Paul's help.
The first episode was very much an introductory one to let the audience get to know the characters, their relationships with one another, and the basic story premises. It manages this task quite well, whilst still keeping the plot reasonably entertaining, by moving events along at a steady pace and not re-explaining the details repeatedly. (I don't know about everyone else, but my attention span is not that short. Once or twice will do thank you!) Having said that, there are quite a few dream scenes that are essentially just Sarah and then Paul crawling about in ashes, but they did change slightly each time, so I'll ignore that.
I think the main part of the storyline that I really disliked was the sub-plot involving Paul, his sister Anna and Anna's friend Jay (Sophie Wu of 'Casualty' and 'Hotel Babylon'), whom Paul has a crush on, of course. It makes the show have the feel of a teen drama/soap opera and it's really unnecessary. This is made worse by the fact that Anna (Lily Loveless of 'Skins' and 'Bedlam')'s acting is way over the top, even for the portrayal of a teenage girl! I suppose some people might also find Mac (Daniel Kaluuya of 'Skins' and 'Psychoville') annoying, as the horror-geek character has been done numerous times, but actually I found his horror-related commentary pretty amusing.
Other than that, there are also a few cringe-worthy moments when Neil is explaining how the souls "shine" before ascension and fade out if they don't ascend, but ignoring that as well, 'The Fades' is not bad so far. It's not an outstanding show, but perhaps given some time to develop it could be. Really, I'm determined not to just dismiss this series like I did with 'Bedlam'. Besides, it's worth watching, if only because it's not yet another series about zombies. I love zombies, but enough is enough already!
If you missed episode 1 of 'The Fades' last Wednesday, you can catch it tonight (Monday) at 10:30pm and tomorrow (Tuesday) at 4:10am on BBC Three. Alternatively, you can watch it online through the BBC Three iPlayer (see links below), where it will be for the next month (I'm not sure if those outside the UK will be able to watch it there though, sorry). Episode 2 airs first on BBC Three this Wednesday, 28th September, at 9:00pm, when "Neil takes Paul to see an ancient Fade, who foresees his importance in the looming battle". Let's hope it doesn't turn into 'The Sixth Sense' meets 'The Matrix', eh?