tv-reviews


October Faction

Rating: ★

While looking up the origin date for this debacle of a show, I learned that it was originally based on a comic series, which retroactively makes a lot of sense of things. I'm sure there are comic series out there with great writing, but the majority of the stuff I've seen is almost schizophrenic with its plot, more obsessed with a cool line, deadly ninjas or shocking volte-face than making sense or properly integrating all its elements. October Faction had the same problems, made even more of an issue by the comparative dullness of its lead characters.

The premise is that Fred and Deloris Allen are monster-hunters who live an secret double-life -- slaughtering vampires at night and making the kids breakfast in the morning. We only see this premise in retrospect, because the series starts with it being interrupted by the death of Fred's estranged father, which calls them back to the house where he grew up. This was a flaw right from the start -- we never saw normality, never saw Fred and Deloris as functional, never got a lay of the land before it all got turned over. When so much of the plot wants to make us go 'gasp!', we need to actually have some foundations to disturb, or it's all meaningless. We don't form an opinion about the morality of Fred and Deloris' work (the questioning of which is key for the last few episodes), because the show never gives us that opportunity. Primarily, we learn about them through short flashbacks. Fred is wooden-faced, cocks up every single violent encounter he takes part in during the show, and has a terrible relationship with both of his parents and really just about everyone. Deloris is an expressive moralising killer, who will protest pure motives no matter what.

The real central figures of the show are the children, Viv and Geoff. Viv and Geoff aren't actually human, as is made obvious straight away in the first episode. We have to wait until most of the season is over before they're brought into the loop on that, though. Viv is an insular artsy type who thinks too little of everyone else to pay much attention to them, even if they're specifically telling her things she needs to know. Geoff is an outgoing, entitled, attention-seeking prick, and one of the big downsides to the series is nobody ever punches him in the face like they should.

A major weirdness of the show are the teenagers, who appear to come from some sort of Television High School. They express radiant hostility (not just cruel indifference, but outright hatred) towards the new Allen children, for no reason at all other than it provides some conflict. They are 17-year-olds all happy to take part in a seance at a wake, and play 'spin the bottle' at a party. Their dialogue is all profoundly bizarre, enough that doing it service in reproduction would be difficult. I question whether the writers have ever observed real teenagers.

I'm avoiding talking about plot because it's so terrible.

Look, okay, we'll skip all the tediously obvious plotlines and focus on a sample of the smaller issues. In the last episode of the season, these things happen:

It's just stuff like this all over. Nothing really follows. I also learned that Netflix cancelled the show after one season, which really sounds for the best.