So, how many of my fellow Joss fans follow TV vamps outside of the Whedonverse? I personally have a penchant for all things vampiric, but Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Angel have a special place in the pantheon as far as I’m concerned. That doesn’t stop me from scanning my TiVo for new blood.
Since Buffy and Angel have gone off the air, I can name four TV shows that I think have kept vamps on the boobtube, and have certainly kept me entertained: Blade: The Series, Blood Ties, Moonlight, and True Blood.
Blade: The Series – 2006 – Spike – had one season
Based on the Marvel comics, the series takes place roughly after Blade: Trinity, the third movie of the franchise. It starred rapper Kirk “Sticky Fingaz” Jones as Blade, the Daywalker. For those not familiar with the comics or movies, Blade is half-human, half-vampire. He was born to a mother who was bitten by a vampire while she was pregnant. He has all of their strengths like speed, strength, and fast healing, without the weaknesses like garlic, silver, and daylight. However, he still feels the need to drink blood, but this is circumvented by taking a serum injection.
In the series, as in the comics and movies, Blade is a bad-ass mofo who is on a personal crusade to kill other vampires, both Purebloods (born vampires) and Turnbloods (turned undead). While Blade is a lone-wolf kinda vigilante, he has help in the series from Shen (Nelson Lee), who is his tech support and digital eyes and ears.
While tracking down the murder of her brother, Krista Starr (Jill Wagner) discovers he was a vampire’s “familiar” and was killed by local vampire kingpin Marcus Van Sciver (Neil Jackson). During this investigation she meets Blade who offers to help her bring down Marcus. Marcus on the other hand is taken by the spirited Krista and turns her into a vampire. Blade normally would have killed her, but decides it is better to have a mole inside Marcus’ syndicate. He gives her some of his serum to help her stave off the cravings.
If you are a fan of the movies, you’ll be happy to know David S. Goyer who wrote the three movies also created the series. You’ll also note that Jones is no Wesley Snipes, but I think in many ways portrays an even more believable Blade. (You have to admit, Wesley was over-the-top in the movies, but that was surely intentional.)
My favorite character from the show was Marcus’ no. 2, Chase (Jessica Gower). She was the character you loved to hate when the series starts, but throughout the season, I actually came to feel bad for her and root for her in the end. Great character development!
Blood Ties – 2007 – Lifetime – had one season (technically, but was split into two for U.S.)
Blood Ties was based on the Blood Books by Tanya Huff, about a former Homicide detective turned P.I. named Vicki Nelson (Christina Cox) who meets and works with the vampire Henry Fitzroy (Kyle Schmid). She still works cases with her old partner, and former lover, Mike Celluci (Dylan Neal) when he doesn’t believe the supernatural elements of the cases.
This makes for a very interesting love triangle, which I think is the core reason it ended up on the Lifetime network. Most of the cases on the show involve a “big bad of the week”, and are rarely vampires. Henry’s vampiric abilities just make him well-suited to help Vicki out when she needs it.
My favorite character on this show was Coreen Fennel (Gina Holden), a goth chick who hires Vicki in the first episode to find out who killed her boyfriend, and later becomes her secretary.
This show had a lot of potential and it did air 22 episodes, so in the States that meant two seasons worth. There was definitely chemistry between the characters, but I think this show ultimately suffered for not having an over-arching storyline. Still it was fun to watch and I do miss it.
You can watch the episodes online (free with commercials) at http://www.mylifetime.com/on-tv/shows/blood-ties/video/.
You can still download the episodes from iTunes.
Moonlight – 2007 – CBS and now on Scifi reruns – had one season
Moonlight was one of those shows that folks either loved or hated. I myself loved the stories and the characters, even if the writing was a little flat every once in a while. Moonlight was another drama with a vampire private eye, and also in L.A., named Mick St. John (Alex O’Loughlin) with what I think is a refreshing twist. He’s only about 90 years old, having been turned in the 1950’s by his wife Coraline (Shannyn Sossamon).
In 1985 he took a case to find a missing child, and after her rescue, he keeps a watchful eye over her. The girl grows up to be webcast journalist Beth Turner (Sophia Myles), who in the present covers a murder scene linked to vampires. She later comes to discover that Mick is a vampire and is also the same PI who rescued her as a child.
My favorite character is definitely Josef Kostan (Jason Dohring), who is an old — 400-year old — friend of Mick’s. I would describe Josef as playfully, morally gray. He is always giving Mick advice that he never follows.
I think Moonlight definitely matured over the season and throws around a few curveballs, which makes good TV in my book. I think it would have only gotten better in a second season. You can watch it right now on the SciFi channel (Fridays at 9/8c), and there are rumors (you know how those go) that maybe SciFi could give it a second season.
True Blood – 2008 – HBO – Season 2 premeires May 3, 2009
My winner for proving you can’t keep vamps off TV goes to HBO which once again proves everything is better on TV if you can show sex! True Blood premiered in September 2008, and the ratings were so huge that by it’s third episode, it had already been greenlighted for a second season.
The series is based on the The Southern Vampire Mysteries novels by Charlaine Harris, in which the japanese have created a blood substitute, marketed worldwide as Tru:Blood. Shortly thereafter, vampires around the world decide to announce that they exist and humans needn’t fear them now that they have an alternative. Most people are suspicious of course, even though there is legislation in the works to give equal rights to vampires (ones they lost when they died, you understand.)
In the small Louisiana town of Bon Temps, Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin), is a waitress at a bar who can read minds. That is until vampire Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer) enters the bar hoping to have a bottle of Tru:Blood, and Sookie cannot read his thoughts. And this, my friends, is just the setup.
Amongst all of the turmoil of a new social liberation, women in Bon Temps are being killed. Women that have associated with vampires. (By associated, I mean had sex with, in all but one case.) The one poor shmuck who is always at the wrong place at the wrong time or knew the victims is Sookie’s brother Jason Stackhouse (Ryan Kwanten).
I have two favorite characters, Sookie’s best friend Tara Thornton (Rutina Wesley) and her cousin Lafayette Reynolds (Nelsan Ellis). But they are just two of the messed up and lovable characters on this show of a fine ensemble cast. I’ve not read the books, though I’ve heard that it is extremely faithful except for a few cases where some license was taken. If you are a fan of the books, I think you would probably forgive some of the trespasses that had to be taken to extend the first novel into 12 episodes.
In the end, especially with True Blood, I think vamps are here to stay on TV. There’s even a new show in production for the CW based on the popular young adult Vampire Diaries novels. Whatever your taste, I think you’ll probably enjoy one of these shows. I think Buffy and Angel helped carve a path for them to make it to the air and for shows to come.