Urban Gothic – Paul Blewitt
Urban Gothic is a not very well known British Horror series. Running on Channel 5 in the UK in 2000 and 2001, its stories are usually unconnected. I say unconnected, the events of the last episode of series 1 follow on from the first episode of series 1. The last episode also guest stars Sean Maguire and Richard O’Brien.
The stories are all horror and comprise of interesting tales ranging from a B-Movie with a twist, Invasion of the Body Snatchers involving pineapple chunks, an unconventional vampire story, an interesting werewolf style story, and that’s just in the first series.
The second series, admittedly I’m less familiar with, also continues in this vein. The second series has continuations of a few character’s stories and a plot arc is brought in. The whole feel of the show may seem a bit dated, almost like a student film feel – almost as though it was shot on a camcorder, but it is extremely watchable.
The thing about this series is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously – but it’s also not a comedy. It’s quite ambitious for what it is – half hour stories that aim to scare, entertain and make you think. It’s actually a series I would love to see remade, with better production values and more guest stars. Now we hand the reins over to Emily….
Kingdom Hospital – Emily King
This Stephen King led series was based on a Dutch TV series called The Kingdom. Kingdom Hospital is about the patients and staff who stay and work at a hospital called Kingdom Hospital, based somewhere in Maine. The hospital was meant to be built on the site of a former textiles mill that operated during the American Civil War, upon which a hospital was then built and then the current hospital that exists in the show’s present.
Of course nothing is as it seems with the series, it’s a Stephen King led series after all. During the first episode a local artist, Peter Rickman, is involved in a near fatal car accident while out running. We soon learn that the hospital has a mystical, supernatural element to it with its past trying to crawl-up out of the ground and smother the present – regardless of whether you’re living or dead.
I’d say that this series was supernatural Stephen King at his best, with him penning more than half of the 13 episodes. The whole thing also does feel like it was him coming to terms with the car accident that he was involved in back in 1999, though King wasn’t in a life-or-death situation like Peter.
Millennium – Emily King
Tied-in with the world of The X-Files, Chris Carter’s Millennium starts out following a former FBI agent Frank Black as he tries to come to terms with his “gift” – the ability to see into the minds of killers. Moving across the US to start a new life with his wife and daughter, Frank is persuaded by the Millennium Group to consult on cases they are asked to intervene by law enforcement.
Lasting for only three seasons, Millennium evolved from monster (read: killer) of the week to a more over-arcing plot structure, as we learned more about the plans various people had for Frank. The way Frank changed through the seasons was deeper and more profound than the changes elicited in Fox Mulder over on The X-Files, but I feel that this was in part due to Millennium taking a more mature look at the real horrors that lurk in the world.
The tighter links to real world crime that the series possessed meant it was often more closely linked to themes of horror, Gothic and grotesque than Mulder’s basement shenanigans. Frank came across as a man who had the misfortune of existing in our world, which was intent on swallowing all hope and reason and leaving us with nothing.
Which are your favourite horror TV series? Let us know in the comments below.