Thursday, June 24, 2010

Bonus - The Gates: Pilot (1.1)

One of those shows that scream "network-initiated genre-crossover series", The Gates is essentially Desperate Housewives meets True Blood. While its renewal prospects are pretty much nil (this being summer, and this being network television), the pilot featured a surprising amount of intrigue, and at least a couple of notable characters. It's still flawed, but it wasn't the trainwreck I was expecting.

The sole reason I tuned in to The Gates was due to the presence of Rhona Mitra, who I adored on both Boston Legal and Nip/Tuck. She's equally as impressive here, unsurprising given that Claire Radcliff is so far the most fully-developed character. There was a lot of tragedy to her, and I liked that the show is presenting vampirism as an addiction, instead of simply replicating the sparkly dopiness of recent incarnations of the mythological creatures. Most of my favorite vampire movies, including Abel Ferrera's The Addiction, put special emphasis on the whole "craving for blood" angle, and I liked seeing that reflected here. Elsewhere, we got little hints to her back-story, as if she feels cursed to live an unhappy life after being sired by her hubby.

The rest of the cast didn't make too much of an impression, but I'm already bugged by the high school storylines. For one, the acting from the teens was universally appalling, and I don't understand why networks constantly demand their shows feature younger characters in an effort to appeal to younger demographics. It's the same with Desperate Housewives: nobody tunes in to see what Preston Scavo is up to this week. Gah. When I was 15, I tuned into TV shows that appealed to me, not just TV shows that featured characters my own age.

The show has an interesting premise in that it's about a gated community keeping monsters "in", rather than keeping the monsters "out". As the pilot went on, we were made aware of not only vampires, but werewolves and (obliquely) witches. While The Gates isn't going to win any major kudos (or even decent ratings, presumably), there's an interesting idea at work here, contrasting the book clubs and flawless lawns with the murderous monsters inhabiting the town. If the show can play that metaphor up, instead of allowing itself to get drowned out in soapy love triangles like in the kids' subplot, it may just work. Rating C+

Guest stars Johnny Messner (Mark Woodbury); Roger Cross (Coach Ross); Brett Cullen (Frank Buckley)
Writers Grant Scharbo, Richard Hatem Director Terry McDonough


  1. I just stumbled on to this. Max I also watched it because of Rhona Mitra and remember finding the pilot not great but not horrible either. I think I stuck around for like 8 episodes out of the 12 of the only season that the show got. Did you ever finish it? Was it worth it? It was a chore just to watch the first 8! The premise had so much potential but alas that was not to be!

  2. This was another one of those shows that I ended up only watching a little bit of. I think I tuned out around episode three, but I can't remember it very well. I remember Rhona was really great, though, but that wasn't a strong enough incentive for me to keep watching.

    Love Rhona Mitra, though. I wish she were more successful nowadays.