'Demons'

Doesn't measure up to the better British dramas that have enlivened the cable net's lineup.

Yet another teen who has an unexpected date with destiny (“Buffy,” we hardly knew ye), the protagonist in “Demons” adapts with convenient alacrity to the revelation he’s the last descendent of Abraham Van Helsing, the original vampire slayer. A definite lightweight addition to these familiar supernatural waters, this BBC import boasts a couple of fine casting choices but doesn’t measure up to the better British dramas (“Being Human,” “Torchwood,” etc.) that have animated the fantastic and undead to enliven the cable net’s lineup.

Luke Rutherford (Christian Cooke) is an ordinary kid for only a few moments before an old pal of dad’s shows up, informing him about his importance in policing the “inhumans” who occupy our world as the great-great-grandson of you-know-who. Said mentor, fortunately, is played by Philip Glenister, the snarling cop from the original “Life on Mars,” and his support includes the mysterious Mina Harker (Zoe Tapper), a blind pianist with keen insight into these “X-Files”-esque threats to humanity.

Series creators Peter Tabern, Johnny Capps and Julian Murphy (working with veteran U.S. producer Dean Hargrove) have injected plenty of cheeky references into the proceedings — evoking a certain long-ago, far-away galaxy by naming the hero Luke and having a character say, “I have a very bad feeling about this.”

Still, other than Glenister’s shoot-‘em-first demon fighter and Tapper’s haunted beauty, “Demons” is an undistinguished jaunt into the paranormal, with a bland young stake-wielder at its center — he of the piercing eyes and Harry Potter hairdo, who must balance passing his driving test with thwarting ancient evils.

The British have clearly demonstrated they’re no longer second-class citizens in the sci-fi game, but as more U.K. offerings reach U.S. shores (see NBC’s “Merlin,” another zit-geist reimagining of a venerable myth), “Demons” is a reminder that nobody bats a thousand.

Demons” isn’t bad, and some of the makeup effects are reasonably effective; still, compared with the better angels in BBC America’s portfolio, it’s as weightless and disposable as the fog that enshrouds its most dramatic moments.

Demons

BBC America, Sat. Jan. 2, 10 p.m.

Production

Filmed in the U.K. by Shine in association with Sony Pictures Television Intl. Executive producers, Dean Hargrove; producers, Johnny Capps, Julian Murphy; director, Tom Harper; writer, Peter Tabern;

Crew

Camera, Geoffrey Wharton; production designer, Paul Cripps; editor, Mark Eckersley; music, Jack C. Arnold; Casting, Suzanne Smith, Julie Harkin. RUNNING TIME: 60 MIN.

Cast

Rupert Galvin - Philip Glenister Mina Harker - Zoe Tapper Luke Rutherford - Christian Cooke Ruby - Holliday Grainger
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