I could list the million and one things wrong with ABC daytime, but you don’t need me to do that. You’re living it. I won’t even rip into the Franco scenes on GH that now make all of James Franco’s earlier works unwatchable for me because all I’ll ever see is the primping, preening, joker-esque performance he turned in as the worst villain in daytime history…I’m not even going to get into the fact that the writers are having Brianna Brown (Lisa Niles) recreating her ‘crazy woman’ role from “Criminal Minds: Pleasure is My Business“. Nope, won’t go into all of that. If you’re interested, Niles was wonderful on Criminal Minds, as Franco has been wonderful in other past projects. It HAS to be the writing for their characters that, in part, makes them so awful on GH.
Why haven’t the powers that be of ABC entertainment thought of hiring some ambitious exec who wants to become a VP of prime time take over as the VP of daytime programming? Clearly the prime time execs have a keener eye for what entertains an audience. Hey, I’m sure anyone who wants to be a VP of prime time programs wouldn’t be happy to be stuck with the daytime albatross, but the network is in trouble and needs someone at the helm who has vision and no ties to daytime actors weighing down their decision making (see: Brenda’s return taking over a full day of programming – screw you OLTL, screw you AMC). The best soap ABC airs at this time doesn’t air as part of it’s daytime schedule. It airs as part of its prime time schedule. Given the fact that ABC aired the original ‘Dark Shadows‘, how fitting that they’ve developed and now air ‘The Gates’. It’s a program I didn’t expect to like. The Gates is a private self-sustaining community that is home to vampires, werewolves, witches, and succubi. What sounds like recipe for disaster has become “must see” for me. While some liken it to Twilight for Grown Ups, I see it as much more. Twilight is insipid and unwatchable, as far as I’m concerned. The Gates boasts likable characters – even the scary ones, skilled writing, and plots that both keep you guessing – and then wanting more once you get the answers. Like any good soap, The Gates creates more questions than it answers.
Two core families drive the series. The very human Monohan family is led by Sarah (Marisol Nichols) and Nick Monohan (Frank Grillo, ex-Hart Jessup, The Guiding Light), a Chicago police officer cleared of the wrongful shooting of a suspected rapist. He’s newly hired to protect the citizens of The Gates when the old chief “retires”. Wife Sarah is a stay at home mom who finds herself in a community of eerie Stepford wives who make her feel inadequate as both a wife and mother. As the series develops, we find that Nick is inherently suspicious of every one and everything, including the women who have made it a point to befriend the unassuming and trusting Sarah. Ordinarily this is the part where I’d start looking for something else to watch. There’s nothing worse than watching weak and demoralized women in daytime, only to follow that up with weak and controlled women in prime time. Luckily, that’s not the case with The Gates. Unlike the women of daytime, or the semi-empowered women of Desperate Housewives, the women of The Gates are both powerful, and bad ass.
Vampires Claire and Dylan Radcliffe, along with adopted daughter Emily are the other core family. Claire was turned by Dylan at some point in their relationship. When? We don’t yet know, but while Dylan is content to live a happy suburban life, Claire finds that shopping, testing new recipes, and learning to make chit chat is incredibly difficult and dull. Both love their daughter Emily and know that outside of their gated community, Emily would never survive in a world among ‘their kind’. She is still human. Claire in particular is torn apart by the compromises she makes each day to keep their idyllic life going. She is torn between the passionate love she still feels for her husband, the maternal love she feels for her daughter, and the cravings she still has for fresh human blood. To Dylan’s dismay,despite the fact that she’s continued her sacrifice, Claire has allowed herself to indulge her fresh-kill fantasies, putting them all at risk.
Of course Nick’s hard edged need for sniffing out the truth, and Claire’s self-destructive behavior puts the two families on a collision course. The question is, why is Nick there at all? Clearly he’s no pushover. Why would so many people with so much to hide allow a man like Nick behind the gates? We learn that the chief Nick replaced didn’t retire, he was murdered. We also learn that the old chief was willing to blackmail Gates’ residents with the secrets he kept. Why risk bringing in Monohan? From what we’ve seen, he can’t be bought – so is he destined for the same fate as the former sheriff? I doubt it. What we have learned is that Nick has a secret of his own. There was no ‘wrongful’ shooting of the rape suspect. Nick was convinced of the man’s guilt and intentionally killed him to stop him from escaping justice due to lack of evidence.
Will he keep the secrets of Gates’ residents if they keep his? Surely someone knows that Nick is guilty.
Was the job ‘payback’ from someone who was a victim (or the relative of a victim) of the man Nick killed? Had the individual mistakenly assumed that Nick was the kind of man who respected secrets?
Is Nick just along for the ride? Why is uber-bitchy blackmailing witch, Devon, so interested in Sarah Monohan? Is Sarah unknowingly linked to someone in the community? Will Sarah (or her children) reveal a power they never knew they had?
I’d tell you more, and there’s a lot more to tell, but it would only ruin it for you should you decide to tune in. I will teasingly tell you that:
Devon… uber-bitchy… LOVE HER!
Peg (Victoria Gabrielle Pratt, ex-Vicky Spaulding, The Guiding Light)… it’s probably a safe bet that she really is all goodness and light, as she seems. I also think Devon underestimates her — and shouldn’t.
Brett? Something tells me that he’s going alpha, and SOON. He’ll be the leader of the pack in no time at all. Get over it Lukas… or not, that would certainly make things more interesting.
Dana Monohan? Watch out for sleepovers at Emily Radcliffe’s house. Something tells me that there’s no ‘wake up’ call. Dylan has had to take a life (Teresa’s) to save Nick from being killed. Will it awaken a blood lust in him? Would Clarie and Dylan become unstoppable if they devolve?
Only time will tell. If you’re not watching ‘The Gates’, you should be.