My Babysitter’s a Vampire is a made-for-TV movie which launched a half-hour TV series of the same name. It is aimed at teens and tweens and airs in the US on the Disney Channel, coming to us from our neighbors to the north (eh?) where it airs on Teletoon.
BEFORE YOU ROLL YOUR EYES
I know this is a kids’ show capitalizing on the vampire craze. I know, but before you rush to judge, I urge you to hear me out because this show is actually pretty awesome.
When I first saw commercials for the show on the Disney Channel I thought, “Great, just what we need: more schlock pandering to the vampire-crazed Twi-hards out there” and I did my best to ignore it once it began airing. For some reason that I don’t even remember though, I actually watched an episode and within that thirty minutes I became a fan. The cast, characters, writing, and even special effects were all pretty good. Much better than what I was expecting, especially for airing on Disney.
The movie sets up the characters of Ethan and Benny, two geeky high school freshmen who can’t be trusted to take care of Ethan’s younger sister Jane. Because of this, Ethan’s parents hire Sarah to babysit Jane (and NOT Ethan, as he is quick to point out to Benny and everyone else who brings it up) but there are two problems with this: One, Ethan has a crush on Sarah so it’s pretty awkward to have her around all the time, and two, Sarah’s a vampire. Well no, not actually a full vampire; she’s a fledgling which means she has been turned but has not feasted on human blood yet. Ethan and Benny discover this when they find Sarah draining a rat in an alley and after some freaking out on the boys’ part she convinces them that she won’t hurt them. The reason she was eating a rat was because of her reluctance to hurt a human and hope that she could find a cure so long as she didn’t take that step.
The movie has a villain who [SPOILER: HIGHLIGHT TO READ] is defeated but ends up returning in the final episodes of the first season [END SPOILER] and introduces the characters of Rory (Ethan and Benny’s goofy friend) and Erica (Sarah’s best friend), both of whom become vampires shortly after Sarah. Unlike Sarah, however, they embrace the power of vampirism and consume human blood on their first night to get past fledgling status.
These five high-schoolers, Ethan, Benny, Sarah, Erica, and Rory make up our main cast. Sarah and Erica do most of the fighting and day-saving (Yay, strong females!) while Ethan and Benny discover powers of their own to help along the way (Ethan is a seer and Benny has inherited magic from his grandmother, another strong woman in the show) and Rory… tends to bungle things up but he does help occasionally.
The cast was undoubtedly the biggest surprise. Though I do love the Disney Channel, I have found most of their performers and shows during the past few years to have been insufferable with only a few notable exceptions.
It was an incredible breath of fresh air (and an entirely welcome surprise) then, to see a show where the cast seemed talented, sensible, and not one performer aggravated me.
Every one of these kids gave a solid performance and WAS NOT HAMMING FOR THE CAMERA. This is something so few of the kids on Disney seem to be taught anymore. The cast of My Babysitter’s a Vampire knew that shouting was not the same thing as emoting and gave natural, believable performances. I found the entire cast to be talented and thoroughly appealing, which is the best way I can describe it. So many Disney Channel casts I find to just be impossible to enjoy, but this cast is just plain appealing. Even when the script calls for them to be goofy in their comedy (which is surprisingly not too often for most of the characters) these young actors pull it off with charm and sincerity. I’m not sure I can praise this cast highly enough.
I think it might be worth noting that this does seem to be the case with shows the Disney Channel imports from Canada, Life With Derek being another example of a show with solid writing and an appealing, sensible cast. Whoever’s involved in the casting, directing, and training of these performers up there needs to share their tips with the folks at Disney.
The writing is another aspect of this show which surprised me with its quality. The characters don’t rely on being mean for their comedy (I’m looking at you, ANT Farm, iCarly, Victorious) or stupid (This goes for you, just about everything else on Nickelodeon and Disney Channel) The comedy comes from the characters themselves and the way they interact with each other.
Much like Supernatural, the show has episodes which stand on their own as well as those which advance an overall plot for each season, of which there are two so far. The second season is currently airing but nearing completion. Hopefully a third will follow!
In a lot of ways this show feels like Buffy Jr. to me. Imagine the great things about Buffy: kick-ass women, powerful friendships, magical powers, supernatural beings, and campy, self-aware humor; take away graphic violence (though I’m surprised by how much is allowed to be shown. It’s minimal and tasteful, but effective), adult themes, and terrible vampire prosthetics (and let’s be real, they WERE terrible) and you pretty much have My Babysitter’s a Vampire. There’s even an episode about a cheerleader who’s actually an old witch trying to hold on to her youth and power that should practically have “This episode dedicated to Buffy the Vampire Slayer” tacked onto the end.
I’m a big fan of this show, and I think you could be too if you give it a chance. It’s fun, funny, surprisingly scary at some points, and has a great cast. You can catch the current season on Disney Channel on Friday and Sunday nights, and surely there will be re-runs and airings of the movie coming up with Halloween right around the corner. Or you could go to YouTube where most of the episodes as well as the movie have been uploaded by fans.