I take a look at the only entry in the now-aborted “Adventure into Fear” franchise.
Daimon Helstrom (Tom Austen) is an ethics professor who also has demonic powers inherited from his serial-killer father (Mitch Pileggi). He typically aids the Saint Teresa Center for Mental Health, a church-run facility that tends to handle possessions. His sister, Ana (Sydney Lemmon), has more mental-based powers which allow her to search for bad people through her antique business… and murder them. Their mother, Victoria (Elizabeth Marvel), is housed in an asylum and is possessed by a demon named Mother. Daimon, Ana, and Daimon’s aide nun-in-training Gabriella Rosetti (Ariana Guerra) work in order to thwart demonic threats.
This was originally supposed to be part of a series of Hulu shows that were to feature darker series based on Marvel properties called “Adventure into Fear.” They stated that the first two were going to be this series and a version of Ghost Rider featuring Gabriel Luna reprising his role on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Then Disney bought Fox, gained controlling shares of Hulu, and decided to fold the Marvel Television division into Marvel Studios. That pretty much guarantees that, unless this show is an unmitigated hit, this may be the only season we get in the entire “Adventure into Fear” lineup. Unfortunately, this show did not appear to clear that hurdle.
I’m not going to say this show was bad. Despite the fact that critics seemed to lambaste it for being unoriginal, I actually thought the show’s style and mythology always kept it interesting enough to get past the fact that many of the characters were not properly fleshed-out. It’s actually mostly Daimon. I don’t blame Tom Austen, I just feel like the writers never really figured out who his character was. He bounces between sensitive, uncaring, sarcastic, and sincere as the show goes on, but it never quite feels like a coherent person. I know it’s weird to say that I am looking for coherence in a half-demon who might not have traditional human emotional stability for obvious reasons, but it made it difficult to connect to the central character and that doesn’t bode well for almost any show. Ana, on the other hand, mostly stays consistent. She’s been hurt horribly by events in her past and she lashes out a lot because of it. She punishes bad people, which allows her to maintain her central desire to do good but also indulges her violent tendencies. It’s not “relatable” in the sense of something people actually do, but it’s understandable. Still, it definitely put the show a little bit behind the 8-ball.
One of the best parts of the series, though, starts right from the beginning. They directly address the fact that so many various films and shows rely on the same images and gimmicks like holy water and reciting Bible passages. In fact, the show’s mythology is that the fact that so many shows and films depict it actually means that such things can’t work. Nothing that’s so public can have any real power in the world of secret rites. It gives the show’s mythos an inherent level of self-awareness and forced originality that does help keep you interested in what’s going to happen next.
Overall, I don’t think it’s a bad show, but I am resigned to the fact that it is almost certainly over already. Given the pseudo-cliffhanger ending, it’s probably not worth the binge.
If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time, Collection of TV Episodes, Collection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.
If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.