Hex – New TV Series Review: BBC’s Female Answer to Strange?

Hex, BBC’s new series premiered at 10:00 pm EST, Thursday, June 8. The premise behind the story of Hex is: a good witch teamed with a love interest turned ghost doing battle with an ancient evil, at an English boarding school.

In the two-hour series opener of Hex, Cassie, played by Christina Cole, appears to be a somewhat shy and gifted student, harassed by the in crowd. To further complicate her life or add twist to the story (not sure of the intent), her roommate and “best friend,” Thelma, played by Jemima Rooper, is a lesbian. Their relationship is strained by Thelma’s more than best friend feelings toward Cassie and Cassie’s desire to “fit in” with other students. The other students are a mix of “I am just too cool” brats that set each other up and epitomize the “mean natured” gits at boarding school.

Cassie is suddenly blessed-or cursed-with powers such as halting falling objects, setting off power failures and causing fires, because of her accidental exposure to ancient artifacts-the Hex. The story transitions into the predictable situation where, when Cassie gets angry or upset, things happen. She even sets a classmate on fire for heckling and doesn’t look particularly upset by the fact that she did it. Good witch? Cassie is repeatedly visited by a spirit from the past, the original mistress of the hall, where the school now resides.

After struggling with what she fears are her inner demons or encroaching insanities, for all of five minutes, Cassie shares her concerns about her strange powers with Thelma. Thelma is most understanding-after all she is in love with Cassie. Throughout the story, the viewer is given glimpses of a particularly menacing and broody, yet not bad looking man to whom a name is eventually attach, Azazeal (usually spelled Azazel in biblical references), played by Michael Fassbender.

Sound familiar? Azazeal is the most disdained and chief of the fallen angels. He was the nemesis-without a face-in the 1998 movie Fallen that starred Denzel Washington, John Goodman and Donald Southerland. Anyway, he’s the bad guy. He is a most powerful angel turned demon, bent on releasing his hoard of 200 nephelim (nephalim, nephilim depending on where you look) on the world, with the help of an unwilling, but seemingly corruptible Cassie.

Azazeal kidnaps and kills Thelma, ostensibly to regain his power, because she is so close to Cassie and he is able to manipulate her into becoming a “willing sacrifice.” At Thelma’s funeral, the deceased Thelma appears to Cassie as a ghost and lets it be known she is still around and prepared to assist Cassie, in fighting Azazeal. Based on the glimpses into the next installment of Hex, offered at the end of the premier, Cassie becomes pregnant with Azazeal’s son. Rosemary’s Baby revisited?

The exchange at the funeral and the one liner from the previews, “Do you know how frustrating it is to be a lesbian ghost,” gives one an idea of the tongue in cheek style humor that will be forth coming. It was truly difficult to take any of Hex seriously. They may have gone too heavy handed with the comedy to make it frightening enough to qualify as sci-fi/horror. Using the name Cassie for the heroin was most likely their first big mistake-oh, how exotic.

While the story may be attemptively creative and the backgrounds and landscapes interesting, the characters and the acting are too contrived and superficial. It was hard to care about the characters and even harder to “believe” their situations. This viewer found it strangely reminiscent of the BBC 2002 series Strange, staring Richard Coyle. The amount of brain power required to watch either is not particularly large and, if you pop off down the street for some fish and chips, you won’t have any problem catching up with the story when you get back.

Teenagers may find Hex more engaging than adults, it seems more geared to that age bracket. However, if that was the target audience, the level of sexual content and the time slot may be wrong. Thumbs down on Hex, the latest line up entry for BBC America.

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