Thursday, April 12, 2012

Blood Ties Season 1, Episode 1 & 2: Blood Price

So we start with a pretty great introduction of Vicki Nelson calling her mother about a date gone wrong in which her mother has to worry about whether she hit him or not – and her frustration about a man treating her as someone who needs everything done for her. We also have an indication about her degenerating eye condition – she isn’t blind… yet. All in all, that was a lot of great introduction packed into a few seconds.

We cut to a guy doing some kind of summoning in Latin – and then watch a man in a long leather coat savagely beat and murder a bystander in front of Vicki – when she rushes to intervene the attacker has disappeared into thin air.

The investigating officers are Dave Graham and Mike Celluci – Vicki’s ex-partner when she was a police officer – and they instantly fall into snarking at each other – and her refusing to let him imply she’s useless because of her failing vision. He body has been bled out but with very little blood at the scene. Poor Dave is caught between Vicki and Celluci  throwing their many many issues and resentments at each other

At her day job as a private investigator, Vicki is approached by Coreen Fennel, the girlfriend of the murdered man. And Coreen is convinced he was killed by a vampire – which, of course, Vicki isn’t quick to believe. But she will investigate the killing.

And then we switch to Henry Fitzroy, a vampire, feeding on a woman and mesmerising her to go home – and he’s touchy about the newspapers calling the killer a vampire. He also crosses paths with Vicki as he sees more evidence of the demonic and she does some more investigating – and invites Carlucci round for Chinese so they can discuss the case – and Vicki seems to have come round to believing in vampires or at least beginning to be convinced

Further investigation takes Vicki to a club where the victim worked – and she runs into Vampire Henry again, who tries to mesmerise her – though it fails. She tries to question the bartender while he goes to question some unpleasant people and she almost catches him beating them down and feeding on them – he does a disappearing act just in time.

Vicki consults with the pathologist and finds more and more evidence that the attacker isn’t human – and starts tracking the murders as points on a pentagram. As does Henry who has had experience of the demonic in his long, undead, life.

The perpetrator of the demonic crimes is Norman, a walking, tired geek stereotype. And he’s using more blood laden demonic rituals to summon his demon to get him more toys and shinies – money, cars, clothes in the odd theory that this will somehow make women fall in love with him. Yes, he’s sacrificing people to demons because he can’t get a date. His trinkets don’t win any woman’s love – though the woman who rejects him is added to the sacrifice list. But if he completes the pentagram in blood on the city, a door will open and the demon promises a more powerful demon will be freed – one who can make women love Norman.

The demon attacks the girl the summoner specified but runs into Henry – and fighting a vampire isn’t nearly as easy as a human. Then Vicki runs into Henry, tries to take him down but gets knocked out – with Henry fleeing with her unconscious body when the police arrive.

She wakes up in Henry’s home and there begins some exposition about demons and vampires – albeit without any admission that Vicki believes in it. Henry even reveals he’s a 500 year old vampire (and the illegitimate son of Henry VIII) and explains why he would be hunting down something they both first believed to be a vampire – he can’t risk a sloppy vampire riling up the humans. We have some very impressive demonstrations of vampire powers allowing Henry to prove that he is actually a vampire – and that he can kill Vicki relatively easily. But he needs her – the demon works at night but the summoner lives by day – and Henry needs help to find him. Henry also tells Vicki how he knows about demons – and that he knows they want to let a big demon through, Astaroth, the demon Henry met 100 years ago and unleash hell on earth. We also get some of Henry’s back story and some exposition about vampires which is fairly well done for an info-dump.

Vicki starts to check police files to find the trinkets that the demon has been stealing for his summoner. But it’s not enough, after a quick ritual they find where the demon will strike next, but in the fight Henry is injured and Vicki has to give him blood to heal to a very dramatic musical background.

Norman, meanwhile, lures Coreen who hired Vicki, back to his place by promising to know about the person who killed his boyfriend – and he kidnaps her, ties her to a chair and begins the evil monologuing. Coreen left a message on Vicki’s phone though – so Vicki runs to the rescue (after leaving a message for Henry) but then she gets herself kidnapped as well – which is beyond annoying for someone as strong as Vicki. And Henry arrives to the rescue for dramatic chanting and poor special effects. Mike Celluci also shows up in tiem to see the special effects

The ending is rather anti-climactic to be honest, it ends quickly with just some very poor chanting and not very impressive effects. But we do end with Vicki hiring Coreen as an assistant for her PI firm since she knows about the supernatural and it will help keep her quiet.

Vicki is disabled – she has poor vision that is degenerating constantly. She left her job as a police detective because of it and she faces many of the issues disabled people face – including pity and unwanted medical advice. Vicki responds to both with appropriate anger and refutation (especially when Carlucci decides to tell her about her condition after googling it).

I do like Vicki and Mike’s antagonistic back and forth – they have real chemistry and the actors really pull it off – it’s a great reflection of their relationship in the books. Antagonistic and passionate with lots of fighting but deep affection as well.

In fact, I love Vicki in general. She’s abrasive – perhaps excessively so in a way that borders on Keillie Independence. But she’s very strong, she doesn’t take grief from anyone, she’s ferociously capable and just plain ferocious. I like her and she’s a really faithful representation from the books. I also love that Vicki is physically older than Henry – they haven’t tried to get a young actor to look more palatable next to Henry. I just really wish she hadn’t needed rescuing.

I find the geek stereotypes somewhat tired – but am glad that his treatment of women is shown to be every bit as revolting as it is. I also don’t like that they turned Henry from a writer of romance novels to graphic novels – given the contempt for the romance genre it seemed like a way to make him more appealing.

There is a major issue with the suggestion that demons caused so many human evils – including the slave trade and Stalin’s atrocities. We’ve discussed this before – appropriating actual atrocities for the sake of drama – and especially with such throwaway lines, is beyond problematic.

There’s a little racial inclusion – but largely in minor or bit roles which is the full amount of the inclusion.

All in all, it was a pretty good conversion of the books – and interesting in its own right.