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April 26 2006

"Hex" Gets Axed. The show that's been referred to as the "British Buffy" has been cancelled due to low ratings.

I'll admit I never watched this, it looked very Charmed (not entirely sure what I mean by that, but it seems a fitting description right now) and the dreadful reviews it got put me right off.

Wasn't sure if this was front page material.

I'm glad. I really disliked Hex.

I watched all of series 1, I thought it was a poor show. I stopped watching after the 3rd episode of series 2, it was just awful.
Also among the glad. Normally I wouldn't have anything against it, but the reviews that put Buffy down to promote Hex put me off when it first started and I've had ill will ever since.
It wasn't dreadful - which was a shame, as then it might have had enough kitsch charm to redeem it.
It was just not very interesting.
Although I actually preferred the second series, in which the heroine was slightly more sympathetic.
But the thing about it that just drove me NUTS was the fact that the demon was called Azreal, and I knew in my heart of hearts that it should have been spelt Azrael, and that just ticked me off.
Wasn't it Azazeal?
This is a massive Hex spoiler, but since both series have already aired here it should be fine:

The fact they killed off their lead in the 2nd season beginning because they failed to get her under contract (?!) properly sealed the fate of the series. Sky deliberately marketed it as the British Buffy - and I can say that with certainty as the head of Sky One SAID they planned to do this just before it aired. They even directly copied characters and plot. However, by killing off the 'Buffy' character, they doomed the series. The market they went for disappeared. And it's not surprising.

The direction on this was actually really good - it looked fantastic at times, with some of the coolest lighting I've ever seen in British TV (it was moody, yo). However, the script. It's all about the script. Was it snarky? Did it make you want to love the characters? Etc.

At least they tried to make a genre show. The UK desperately needs talented script writers and show runners. The fact they seem to all be at the BBC working on Doctor Who and Torchwood at the moment is both a blessing and a curse.

In the right hands, this show could have flown.

[ edited by gossi on 2006-04-26 23:14 ]
gossi - Life on Mars was excellent as well, I thought. Good writing, good acting, never boring, beautifully shot. There was an article in the most recent Doctor Who Magazine where Phil Colinson and Julie Gardner of BBC Wales were talking about how the concept of show runner was fairly new to the UK and Russell T. Davies was almost singlehandedly changing that.
Definitely agree that Russell's success with Doctor Who is radically changing the UK TV market. The fact a UK TV station is airing in 45 minute segments with 12 episodes quickly and doing very well is new in the UK -- at least lately -- especially with genre, and it's having a real impact.

Imagine if something like Spaced appears in this model? It's an exciting time, but they need to make sure they are careful what they comission. The UK needs to start doing TV pilots.
It did go through a phase of being reasonably good but then reverted to "worst show ever status". It was addictive viewing cause of its mad plots and the fact that the writers merrily killed off cast members left, right and centre without any real explanation.
I really liked the pilot actually, but even before the second episode was over I just couldn't watch it anymore. The plot inconsistencies was the worst I've ever seen. For example a ghost that can't touch anything has apparently no problem hold a bag of chips of opening drawer and door and so on. So stupid... And apparently it got worse... So I guess the money is better spent elsewhere.
The ghost who couldn't touch anything but got crisps from a machine and ATE THEM in front of other people (who couldn't see her) but apparently couldn't see the crisps floating in the air.

And that happened nearly every. single. episode.

I swear, season 3 would have been sponsored by Walkers Crisps. The girl never stopped eating. Worse than Jayne.
There were some good things to the show, mostly centred around the character of Thelma. Coincidentally the actress co-starred with Chiwetel Ejiofor in Kinky Boots. However the plotting of the show had become totally incoherent by the end.

The interesting question is whether Sky will do another genre show. Both Dr Who and Life on Mars have been bigger hits than the BBC expected. The success of Lost has also been noticed in the UK. The end result is that writers with genre ideas are apparently seeing doors open for them at the TV companies that have been closed for a long time.
Won't miss Hex at all. I watched the first season and thought little enough of it that I didn't watch the second. Well produced and usually fairly well acted but kind of slight and not well written.

I think the show runner concept has some merit but I also really like the UK tradition of having a single creator/small writing team which tends to give more consistency throughout a series. The problem being that this makes it very hard if not impossible to produce large numbers of episodes so we have 'Spooks' at about 10 per 'season', the excellent 'Hustle' at 6, 'Life on Mars' (which i'm about half-way through and really enjoying) at 8 and so on (probably not coincidentally all from the same production company). 22 episode seasons need large teams of writers (or a freelance submissions system) and are also a much bigger financial risk.

I'd really hate UK TV to end up in the state American TV is in where great shows aren't given any kind of chance to find an audience and end up cancelled after 13 or fewer episodes. Not really sure if there's a happy medium though.
Glad it's dead, and it deserves it for shamelessly going after the Buffy slot without knowing what Buffy had. My impresion was thet they'd never actually seen Buffy but watched a couple of random episodes, fast forwarding through the "boring" bits and saying "Well, that shouldn't be hard to copy!"

Shame was it had a lot going for it. The production values looked very good for a UK show, they must have had a decent budget, the actors seemed okay...

Doctor Who was a massive step in the right direction and there are other talented writers/showrunners here, the makers of Coupling for one win my admiration for being very funny AND doing some very clever ideas, such as an entire episode in split-screen, one with the same scenes shown several times from different points of view and so on.

Hex just needed a decent script. I wonder what they could have done if they'd made Doug Petrie, David Fury or Jane Espenson an offer to give the script a going over?
Don't tease with me with mention of longer runs of Spaced, gossi :)

zz9 - perhaps not coincidentally, the man who wrote every episode of Coupling (Steve Moffat, take a bow, sir) wrote the amazing two part The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances last season and is writing the upcoming Who ep The Girl in the Fireplace.

I don't want 22 episodes of crap, naturally. Just saying that the Doctor Who model of 13 eps with half a dozen writers carefully watched over by a shworunner seems to be working out great.
I thought "Angel" season five Spike's incorporeal self walking through walls, desks and the like while both feet were making solid contact with the floor as he walked was somewhat silly, but at least he wasn't eating chips.
Season one had real potential but they kinda lost me and got carried away in season two.
Sigh, oh well. I'll wait for "Buffy 2025" I guess...
God knows why, but I watched the whole two seasons of Hex in a kind of horrified stupor, all the time thinking: 'The Hex scriptwriters are morons, and so are the people who hired them'.

As for Doctor Who according to Russell T. Davies, while nowhere near as bad as Hex (let's face it - what could be?), I can't join in the praise expressed elsewhere. RTD, to me, is just another ex-children's TV BBC hack who hasn't a clue about science fiction, or real comedy, or anything much. Just a bloated ego feeding off an ingrained devotion to a British TV legend.

What I would like to see is J. Michael Straczynski (who wrote all but a couple of Babylon 5 episodes from seasons 2-5, giving the lie to the argument that a team of writers is required for a series with 22 season episodes) given the reins of Doctor Who in concert with the two guys who wrote Red Dwarf. Now that would be worth watching!
I have never seen 'Hex' (I don't have Sky TV) and so cannot comment about the quality or otherwise of that show but I can't bring myself to celebrate its demise (or the demise of any other genre shows). I would have thought we need more shows like this to succeed if we want to see more of this genre in the future. The BBC recently remade 'The Quatermass Experiment' and 'A for Andromeda’; seemingly following the success of the new 'Dr Who' - and surely that is a good thing.

It's why I would not be overly critical of 'Charmed'. I choose not to watch it, but it proves that a genre show can survive for more than a handful of episodes, which I don't think is a bad thing.

As for Russell T Davies being a, "...Hack who hasn't a clue about science fiction, or real comedy, or anything much," I can't say I agree with that particular assessment at all.
Yep, I agree dashboardprophet I think that's a bit harsh on Russell Davies BUT I think both RTD and JMS are prime examples of what can go wrong with the showrunner idea. I'm enjoying Doctor Who and thought B5 was often excellent but almost every episode of either one that was written by the show-runner has several moments where I think they needed someone to say 'Err, sorry Russ/Joe but that's rubbish, let's not do that'. Which is to say, if the showrunner is a creative genius who rarely puts a foot wrong everything's peachy but if they themselves have weaknesses in a particular area the show will reflect this (some of RTD's stories feel slight to me and his plots are often a bit 'holey' and it's maybe best not to dwell on JMS' at times appallingly bad and cringeworthy dialogue).

Also, I'm a sci-fi fan and have been for donkey's years but I don't see the point in mourning the loss of bad television (though I see your point about not celebrating it either). I'd welcome more genre stuff on TV but surely it goes without saying that it's got to be good too ? With 'The Quatermass Experiment' for example I thought it was just that: an interesting experiment but not particularly good TV except for the curiosity value (for me it reinforced the idea that drama is very hard to pull off live since there are all kinds of pacing issues to deal with) so, yes it's good to see more genre TV but we've hardly gained much if it's not worth watching (personally I resent the fact that Charmed has run for so long while far better shows - *cough* Firefly *cough* - get less than a season to prove their worth).
(some of RTD's stories feel slight to me and his plots are often a bit 'holey' and it's maybe best not to dwell on JMS' at times appallingly bad and cringeworthy dialogue)

I have already read this here, the bad quality (or "non believableness") dialogues of JMS, but you really need to give me an example or some precise points, 'cos I haven't really been disturbed by that point of B5, up to now...
JMS writes dialogue 'on the nose' - meaning it's way too the point, in your face. It wouldn't have surprised me if Delenn started running around going "WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE! DIE! DIE!!ONE!1!!" for an entire episode.

He's a great story creator, is JMS. And, don't get me wrong, he wrote most of the best scripts of Babylon 5. But, when you see his name on a 'comedy' episode B5, run for the hills...

Also, let's just be clear that for the first few years of Buffy, Joss apparently rewrote a great many (nearly all) the lines of the Buffy scripts. So he was literally all over that show, much like RTD and JMS.

RTD, to me, _is_ a former BBC childrens writer. Because, you know, he was! But he also did gay fucking in Queer As Folk. And other stuff. Just because you've worked on other shows does not label you as that. Joss Whedon is not the hack who worked on TV sitcoms -- although he did, for many years.
Well I haven't watched B5 in 7 or 8 years Le Comite so I can't remember too many specifics but picking a few at random from

"Not like this! Not like this! If I'm going out, I'm taking you bastards with me!" (this was Sinclair to himself)

"I've just broken two of your ribs. [Hits Marcus again] Sorry make that three."

"I was born for this!" (Garibaldi in the middle of a heroic last stand and delivered in such an over-the-top manner i'm actually cringing now)

"I did it when he first came aboard. I like to know who I'm dealing with. And who knew he'd turn out to be okay, huh? Right now, according to his file, Sheridan is a good tactical thinker. He can take an inferior defensive force and turn it into an offensive force capable of taking on a better-equipped enemy. Now, he did it with the Black Star, he did it during the Mars riots. Now, you ask me, he is the one chance we've got to make it through this thing alive." (Garibaldi again or should I say Captain Exposition ? ;)

I do remember that a lot of the bad dialogue (and there was also, lest we forget, some really great, poetic stuff in there) would sound more like a series of monologues between people who happened to be standing next to each other. I guess everyone has a different point at which dialogue becomes stilted, hokey and cliched though so YMMV ;).

(note, BTW, that I really liked B5, great story, good effects for the time, emotional resonance and some truly excellent moments of sci-fi TV BUT also the aforementioned issue with the dialogue which, incidentally, I think JMS vastly improved on in 'Jeremiah')
You forgot " Now get the hell out of our galaxy!".
I had until you reminded me, thanks a bunch ;).
Not going to miss Hex at all but I am going to miss Dream Team. It has been granted a final season for next year but then after season 10 there will be no more Harchester United. At that point the only footie drama will be Footballers Wives and even I don't love football enough to want to watch that dreadful show.

Long live the Dragons! Sunday evenings will never be the same again.
Am i the only person who loved the second series but hated the first?

I was never a fan of Cassie... they compared it to Buffy but the heronie lacked any kind of common sense or self restraint! Alright, Ella wasnt the most restrained, but at least she did more than swoon.

Sad to see it go :( never get to learn what happened now!

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