What I'm Watching: October Faction

Adapted from an IDW comic. The comic is by spooky Steve Niles (30 Days of Night), with Damien Worms' art, which ranges from blatantly ripping off Charles Addams' "Addams Family" cartoons, to blatantly ripping off Ben Templesmith who formerly worked with Niles; and Ben's entire career is ripping off Bill Sienkiewicz. I've read one of it, wasn't at a time when I cared enough to keep following it, but it seemed fun. At some point I may get all the collected volumes, maybe for Halloween.

The show doesn't really match up. The comic's dark gothic look, skulls and shadows everywhere, lots of backlit outlines, is replaced with perky yuppies in suits, and their annoyingly precocious children. The house could be creepy and gloomy, it has weird locked rooms and summoning circles… but it's always brightly lit, and almost never the set. Instead they're out in the woods like a B-movie, or at a police station, or anywhere but home.

The premise suffers from translation, from a retired monster hunter protecting his family, to a pair of scheming, active agents getting a year of sabbatical which turns very active again.

The monster-killing agency, The Shop Presidio, is just as genocidal and shitty as the comic, but what works in comics, with aged heroes or rookie hillbilly cops holding off masses of armored soldiers and monsters, here turns into almost comedy as this square middle-aged couple—ooh, they're so hip they smoke an old joint found in their '72 Charger!—murder people with bad facial appliances (literally four toothpicks sticking out of some latex around the mouth for the "vampires", and glowing red eyes added with CGI, except they miss sometimes). The goon soldiers all have full armor, modern weapons, and always get killed by unarmored, often untrained good guys. The monsters are worse, many times stronger than Humans, magic powers, maybe centuries of practice killing Humans, and they always get beaten or killed by half-assed Human fighters. At one point, spoiler but meh, Deloris is cornered by five angry vampire bikers. Next scene she comes home with some cosmetic bruises and scratches.

I mock the excesses, but the adult story is OK. Fred (JC McKenzie, who's played boring lawyers or doctors for the last 30 years), Deloris (Tamara Taylor, previously in Altered Carbon), Gina (Nicola Correia-Damude, who's in a ton of fun B-movies & series), Alice (Maxim Roy, French-Canadian femme fatale, mostly in shitty Canadian dramas), and Moshe (Dayo Ade, haven't previously seen him) are all competent, the main story of the family finding out who they are and just how evil The Shop Presidio is, warlocks and vampires seeking revenge, and a father's incredibly stupid desperate attempt to save a son, is interesting.

But the B-plots suck. The Shop Presidio internal politics are far over the top, instant assassinations and Mengele-style tortures instead of, you know, anything subtle or intelligent. There's an entire ep of flashback to when Alice was happy, and for 30+ minutes nothing happens and then it's war porn and a big "I told you so". The final resolution of the main plot involves kids and old people beating up soldiers who have years of experience committing monster genocide, and silly people stepping out of cover to monologue each other to death. If only it were that easy.

Casting diversity is definitely an improvement, there's a range of ethnicities and a token bigot in the first ep to point it out. IDW and Netflix made a big deal on launch about the comic being gay-friendly. Well, I guess. The annoying son is gay (but the actor Gabriel Darku, one of the filth from the terrible ReBoot reboot, is straight, because gay actors don't get to play gay characters), and his teen romance shit, regardless of orientation, goes on forever, but so does the annoying daughter with her catty, dumpy friend, and the girl clique straight out of Heathers or 90210 who are oppressing them. The children are entitled, pompous, loathesome, whiny, and useless. Which means when it comes time for them to be endangered or have to make choices, I DO NOT CARE. The awful kids drove this down from a passable show sympathetic to the monsters, to "UGH, the kids are on screen again, skip skip skip".

I'm glad Netflix killed this after a season, instead of dragging it out.

I kinda wanted to watch Fred possess the monster/robot/whatever in the basement, which seems to be what the ending shot was.

★★☆☆☆

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