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 V.15 No.24 | June 15 - 21, 2006 

Idiot Box

Hex Appeal

“Hex” on BBC America

A hit on Britain’s Sky One satellite service since its inception in 2004, “Hex” is just now making its way to U.S. shores courtesy of BBC America. It was worth the wait. Those jonesing for a “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” fix (and to a lesser degree, a “Charmed” dose) will find all their various obsessions fulfilled with this addictive horror/fantasy/drama/comedy import.

The series introduces us to Cassie Hughes (Christina Cole), an unpopular (if incongruously hot) teenage misfit who goes to one of those creepy old boarding schools in the middle of nowhere England. In the midst of dealing with assorted coming-of-age crises, Cassie discovers she’s really a witch, the inheritor of a centuries-old tradition of magic.

Upon realizing her powers, Cassie begins utilizing them for all sorts of petty teenage objectives (tormenting those who annoy her, attracting the class hunk). The only problem with Cassie’s “awakening” is she’s now being groomed by a seductive demon named Azazeal (Michael Fassbender, “Band of Brothers”) to help free the Nephelim (a band of fallen angels looking for payback) from Hades.

Like “Veronica Mars,” “Hex” neatly balances teenage drama with the greater needs of its ongoing genre storyline. As much attention is spent setting up the characters and places in Cassie’s world as on the demonic doings. Helping Cassie along is her arty lesbian roommate Thelma (Jemima Rooper, Kinky Boots) who harbors a little more than a crush on our main character (and, who, in the two-hour pilot, undergoes a rather surprising transformation). The supporting characters--most of whom inhabit the popular clique that Cassie seems forever on the edge of joining--are all sharply observed. Each has their own set of good and bad qualities, leaving plenty of room for juicy storylines. (Sky One has, so far, produced two seasons.)

The series mixes in a bit of humor and a few goosebump-inducing scares, but spends a goodly amount of time dwelling on Cassie’s sexual awakening. Her new powers give her a certain amount of confidence and fuel her desire to nab good-natured (but taken) football captain Troy. Then there is the implicit but unrequited attraction of Thelma, the only person who really seems to care about Cassie. And, of course, you’ve got tall, dark and evil Azazeal doing his devilish best to seduce Cassie. (And still he finds time to shed a tear, sensitive demon that he is.)

Take a bevy of cute British schoolgirls (and boys), add a pinch of Harry Potter-inspired magical intrigue and stir in enough soapy sexual hijinks to fuel a season of “The O.C.” and you’ve got “Hex”’s magical recipe for success. Become a fan now while there’s still space in the chat rooms.

“Hex” airs every Thursday at 8 p.m. on BBC America.


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