The Nexus of Pop-Culture Fandom

Television Collision: ABC Opens Up The Gates

Written by: Phoebe Raven, CC2K Staff Writer

ImageWhen I tuned into the pilot episode of The Gates on ABC, I didn’t know anything about what I was about to watch. I hadn’t heard a single peep about this new show and if I had, I probably wouldn’t have caught the pilot in the first place. Why? Because it is yet another show about vampires and some other things that go bump in the night. And do we really need more of those?

Between the awesomeness that is True Blood and all its creepies and the relatively fun because teenage-themed, soap-opera-feely Vampire Diaries I am pretty maxed out on my quota of supernatural shows I want to watch. But, alas, The Gates tricked me into giving it a shot.

It’s always hard to judge a show by its pilot (the equivalent to “Don’t judge a book by its cover”), so I don’t want to be too harsh right off the bat, but I am not blown away by this new show. The characters are yet a little cliché, the dialog is wooden and expected and none of the actors seem to pack a real punch talent-wise.

The Gates is set in a suburban community – a gated community, hence the name – which its inhabitants basically don’t ever have to leave. It has one of the finest schools in the state (I think it’s in Illinois, but I am not sure), shops, a police station and even a spa. What more could you want, right? Well, it soon becomes clear that within the Gates there are a lot of things you’d rather not want for a quiet neighborhood.

ImageThere is the vampire couple, who are raising a little girl (who may be adopted, but I missed that detail). The wife is struggling with the dull suburban life she is supposed to live, never feeding on humans, while the husband works as a CEO of some company and supplies both of them with blood from the lab. In the pilot episode the wife becomes careless and kills a contractor, which promptly puts the new Chief of Police on her trail.

Now the Chief, natch, has his own dirty back story. He has just been transferred from Chicago, where he was a really good homicide detective, but then killed a suspect, supposedly in self-defense, but who can really tell? His wife wants him to settle down and not go out finding trouble, especially since they have two kids, but do you think he would listen? Of course he sneaks into the vampires’ house in the middle of the night and almost gets himself killed right then and there.

The Chief’s kids aren’t much better at avoiding trouble either. On his first day at school the Chief’s son manages to fall in love with a girl, whose boyfriend just happens to be a werewolf and mighty jealous. Yes, that’s right, in addition to vampires we have werewolves. Thank God we are all trained enough in modern urban fantasy folklore to know what the werewolf buddies mean when they say “It’s against the code”. Within the gated community they are not allowed to show their true form or tell anyone what they are, but Boyfriend Werewolf has increasing problems with his self-control. We all know how this one ends.

ImageAnd to put it all over the top, The Gates also gives us witches. Two of them, actually. Both of which know about the vampire couple and supply the Vamp Wife with herbs to keep her cravings under control. Among themselves the witches have a major power struggle going on. One of them used to be the other’s student, but now the student has seemingly become the master.

A lot of conflicts have been hinted at and put in motion in the pilot already. In fact, I think it packed on a little too much. We didn’t really need to see New Boy and Werewolf Girlfriend “fall in love” in the very first episode now, did we? A little too much too soon for my taste. And maybe it would also have been cooler to have all the different kinds of creepies be revealed one after the other instead of all at once.

I can’t see The Gates surprising me in any way. The Vamps are going to continue to try and hide who they are even though the wife’s cravings will get stronger and she will kill again and then they have to hide that form the overly inquisitive Chief of Police. He in turn will keep sticking his nose into dangerous business, no matter how much his wife begs him not to do it “for the kids” or “for us”. One night the Chief’s son will come home with claw marks all over his body, because Werewolf Boyfriend just couldn’t control his jealous rage anymore and attacked Chief Son. And, oh, the Witches will continue to brew potions for the whole town. The Chief’s Wife already got herself a special tea against stress. Who wants to take a bet that stuff will “change” her over time?

I can’t see The Gates going anywhere new and interesting, but suspect it will tread the familiar paths of urban fantasy. It won’t be overly controversial, actually it will mostly be a PG 13 show and therefore it will ultimately always lack a certain punch that even The Vampire Diaries has, simply because it allows Damian to be deliciously evil at times.
But I won’t put anything past the Twilight-loving-crowd: The Gates could be a hit with them.




Recommended Collisions with your Television

(combine at will, all times EST, only new programming listed)


Tuesday, June 22nd
 8 p.m.  Pretty Little Liars (ABCFam)
 9 p.m.  
 10 p.m.  Law & Order: Criminal Intent (USA)
Wednesday, June 23rd  
 8 p.m.  So You Think You Can Dance (Fox)
 9 p.m.  
 10 p.m.  Hot In Cleveland (TVLand)
   In Plain Sight (USA)
Thursday, June 24th  
 8 p.m.
 9 p.m.  So You Think You Can Dance (Fox)
   Rookie Blue (ABC)
   Burn Notice (USA)
 10 p.m.  Royal Pains (USA)
Friday, June 25th
 8 p.m.  Friday Night Lights (NBC)
 9 p.m.  
 10 p.m.  Party Down (Starz)
   Miami Medical (CBS)
   Merlin (SyFy)
 10:30 p.m.  Gravity (Starz)
Saturday, June 26th
Sunday, June 27th
 9 p.m.  True Blood (HBO)
   Scoundrels (ABC)
   The Tudors (SHowtime)
 10 p.m.  Army Wives (Lifetime)
   The Gates (ABC)
   Hung (HBO)
   Leverage (TNT)
 10:30 p.m.  Entourage (HBO)
Monday, June 28th
 8 p.m.  Lie to Me (Fox)
 9 p.m.  Good Guys (Fox)
 10 p.m.  Persons Unknown (NBC)