ABC’s [[The Gates (TV Series)|The Gates]] is an interesting proposition. I can’t quite begin to describe it to you, and it’s far too early to start using the phrase “ill-fated” in connection with such a new show.
There’s a soap-opera feel to the show – like a weird hybrid of Desperate Housewives and The Vampire Diaries with a dash of the ill-fated Eastwick thrown in. Well, from the one episode I saw of Eastwick.
We’ve got vampires, we’ve got werewolves. No [[Sookie Stackhouse|telepathic cocktail waitresses]] just yet, but you never can tell when one of those gals will roll into town. Oh, and we’ve got a new police chief who left his last position under a bit of a cloud and has ‘downsized’ his job in order to salvage his career. But he’s the kind of guy who sees law-breakers everywhere he looks.
I’m going to go easy on this first episode, because to be fair, it had a lot to achieve. It had to establish the premise of the show. An ultra-secure gated community where people pay a premium for the added safety the neighbourhood brings. Except young Charlie Monohan quips on the way in “What about the people trying to get out?” We also had a large cast of main and supporting characters to introduce, and to be fair The Gates laid all of their cards on the table – we know who the vampires are and who the werewolves are. Not much messing around on that front.
Quite a simple storyline to establish things as well. Rhona Mitra plays Claire Radcliff, a stay at home mom with a difference. Yes, she’s a rehabilitating vampire. Except her husband is away on business and she takes in an injured contractor to patch him up. Instead, she drinks him up.
I loved the gory way in which she drained the man into the sink and then transferred the blood into bottles. I’d have thought some form of funnel would have been tidier, but hey, what do I know about draining dead bodies?
Mitra looks every inch the conservative soccer mom, but there are a couple of glimpses of otherworldlyness about her – when she glides over a bannister near the end of the episode, or when she issues a threat to a witch: “I could end you, and you would never see it coming.” Then you can see a spot of murderous intent in those eyes.
Of course, with a plethora of security cameras installed everywhere on the site, it’s noted that the man crashed into a concrete post and went into Claire’s house. She obviously disabled the cameras after that point, so when Chief Nick Monohan comes a-knocking, she can say that he left. However, she’s got his body in the fridge and his truck in her garage.
It doesn’t take her husband long to sniff the blood on her breath and though he gives her a stern talking to, he helps her dispose of the body.
But it doesn’t end there – Chief Monohan has his own highly developed sense that something’s fishy with the Radcliffs. He’s determined to catch them out and to find out where the dead guy’s truck went. And giving him dues for detective work, he swiftly notices that Claire looked up at the security cameras just before departing The Gates. Smart guy. But politically speaking, he gets talked down by – who was that guy, the mayor? – and told he needs to be more respectful of the residents’ privacy.
Throw in a plot with a high-school jock with full-moon fever (i.e. he’s a werewolf) whose girlfriend is making eyes at newboy Monohan, and you’ve got something for the teen audience as well. Why do the werewolves always have anger management issues though?
Tonally speaking, the first episode of The Gates played out a tiny bit too dry for me. While there was plenty going on, there didn’t seem to be the general banality of the [[The Vampire Diaries (TV Series)|Vampire Diaries]], or any particular character that I felt I could warm to. Annoying police chief? No. Disagreeable vampire housewife? Probably not. I may just have to root for wolfboy to make a grievous error and tear his girlfriend limb from limb in a savage attack.
Oh, and I’ll want an explanation for why these vampires can walk around in daylight? I’m hoping it’s got nothing to do with Claire Radcliffs extensive moisturising regime.