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Series / Strange

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Strange is a British TV drama following the exploits of John Strange (Richard Coyle), a former priest who hunts demons. Out to thwart Strange is the sinister Canon Black (Ian Richardson), who had Strange de-ordained for his beliefs (and its associated "unpleasantness"), and who represents the sober face of the Church of England, engaging in cover-ups and persistently denying the existence of evil powers. The drama takes place in "A Cathedral City somewhere in England".

Written by Andrew Marshall, who also created 2point4 Children.

Helping Strange to detect and unmask demons are:

  • Toby (Andrew-Lee Potts), who's in charge of all the technological gadgetry they use to detect demons.
  • Kevin, who has Down's Syndrome, which enables him to sense the presence of demons (unless they're clever enough to mask it, like Asmoth).

Strange also finds an ally in Jude Atkins (Samantha Womack), a nurse who works on the stroke ward at the local hospital, and who was previously a research scientist.

The programme comprises a one-hour pilot originally aired in spring 2002, followed by a series of six one-hour episodes aired in summer 2003. Alas, it was rather Screwed by the Network in that the BBC did not repeat the pilot when the series aired over a year later, doubtless leaving many viewers confused as to who the main characters were. Added to which, its Saturday evening timeslot moved about from week to week. The resultant low viewing figures meant that although a second series had been planned, it was not commissioned.

This show provides examples of:

  • Afterlife Express: the coach and horses from Costa Burra, summoned by the wail of a banshee. Once it has been summoned it cannot leave without taking someone with it.
  • Anti-Hero: John Strange fits the bill - a disgraced priest whose girlfriend Helen was killed by a demon, who also left Strange with permanent wounds.
  • Badass Preacher: John Strange himself (well, badass ex-preacher at any rate), and perhaps Canon Black to a certain extent.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The fuse-box in the church basement. Jude points it out when Strange mentions demons needing energy sources, but he dismisses her, later having to eat his words. Its significance, however, is that the demon Azal uses it for travel.
  • Dirty Old Man: The elderly stroke patient at the start of the pilot episode:
    Young female nurse: Anything else I can do for you?
    Patient: I suppose sex is out of the question?
  • Don't Go in the Woods: The events in Dubik arise because someone did not heed this advice when looking for wood to export.
  • Elemental Powers: In the pilot, Strange tells Jude that near-human demons need psychic energy to "activate" themselves, and that they derive such power from ancient "stores of residual evil" where terrible events occured.
  • Evil Gloating: Asmoth to Strange, when the latter ends up imprisoned: I WIN AGAIN, appearing in blood on the ceiling of his cell.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: a trait shared by the near-human demons when they're "powered" and ready to do evil.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: demons can interbreed with humans. Jude suspects that her son Joey is the result of this. In Asmoth it turns out she's right, but he uses his powers to protect her.
  • In the Hood: Living up to his name, Canon Black's preferred garb when walking around in public is a long black hooded cloak. He even wears it when visiting someone in hospital:
    Canon Black: [to a snoozing patient] Excuse me...
    Patient: [wakes up, startled] You look like death!
    Canon Black: [deadpan] Well we're none of us getting any younger.
  • Long-Lived: Demons in general. The demon from the pilot episode, Azal, a.k.a. Jude's boyfriend Rich, with power over electricity, appears in an old photograph as the lab assistant to 18th/19th-century physicist Michael Faraday, and who helped the latter discover electrical charge.
  • Mentor Archetype: John Strange's mentor Father Bernard, who was blinded by Asmoth.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: When a motorcycle courier delivers a medieval book about demons to Strange, the latter explains all about what the book is and who's translating it for them. What a pity that the courier is the demon Azal.
  • Nightmare Fuel Colouring Book: Irish Taxi driver Liam McGrath draws multiple lurid and disturbing pictures that recount to Strange and Jude the origins of the plague spreading Banshee and the Death Coach she summons, also Tearjerker and Room Fullof Crazy.
  • Our Demons Are Different: demons take many forms, both near-human and non-human. The near-human ones are capable of living in human society.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: the dubik, a tree-demon which lures its victims by making them hallucinate, typically with visions of deceased loved-ones or those whom they'd trust.
  • Shout-Out: One episode has a pair of animal rights activists named after the Doctor Who companions Jamie and Zoe. The same episode also has a book whose author's name is very similar to the Brigadier's.
  • Spontaneous Human Combustion: Apparently the cause of death of poor Rev. Rutt in the pilot episode. The real reason is that he knew too much, so the demon Azal had to silence him.
  • Story Arc: The story (and backstory) involving Strange's titular nemesis Asmoth.
  • Tragic Villain: The Banshee, who originated as a dying girl who made a Deal with the Devil for the sake of self preservation and became a servant to the Death Coach, calling it to transport victims to hell. Her use of her powers to protect her adopted sister from her abusive stepfather backfired spectacularly when it resulted in her being buried alive, causing her to live in regret for the rest of her life.