I've mentioned it before, but there used to be a game that
my friends and I would play when we were bored that's still a lot of
fun. It goes like this:
take a pair of one-sentence descriptions of any
two people and then add the phrase "They're both detectives." No matter what the descriptions are, it will sound
like a pitch for a TV show. Try it, it's
fun. "He's an old jazz musician who
never quite made it. She's a wealthy
widow who collects rare orchids. They're
both detectives." Or how about "She's an
ex-homicide detective with a degenerative eye disease.
He's a 450 year old vampire. They're
both detectives." This last one isn't a
joke though, it's a
real series. Made in 2006, Blood
Ties lasted for a total of 22
episodes, and the entire series will soon be out in a nice four disc
set. While the series has some
interesting episodes, it never quite lives up to its promise or
Vicki Nelson used to be a top homicide detective until she
contracted an illness of the eyes that made her leave the force. Sure, she could have stayed on, but she would
have been assigned to a desk and that's not what she wanted. So she quit and became a private
One night while walking home after a miserable date, Vicki
sees a man being attacked across the street in the middle of a dark
alley. By the time she runs across the
attacker is gone and the victim is dead, with all of his blood drained
him. The next day the victim's goth
Coreen, confides in Vicki that she's sure a vampire is to blame and
detective to track him down.
Vicki does find a vampire, but not one who has killed anyone
lately. Henry Fitzroy, the illegitimate
son of Henry VIII, likes to keep things quite.
He's a nice vampire (and comic book scribe), and mainly drinks
of willing women. He picks them up, beds
them, and then hypnotizes them to leave.
They're happy to have gotten a good lay from a stud, and he gets
eat. If another vampire is killing in
his territory he wants to know about it and stop them.
He's got a good thing going and doesn't want
Vicki and Henry cross paths and eventually discover that a
geek has summoned a demon and put a stop to it.
They work so well together that they decide to team up and stop
supernatural baddies that have started to invade their city.
In the course of their adventures, they battle zombies,
witches, ghosts and other evil creatures while trying to figure out how
feel about one another. They're
attracted to each other, but Vicki also has the hots for her
partner Mike, and Coreen (who comes to work for Vicki since she knows
about the supernatural) would love to get closer to Henry.
Heck, battling invisible telekinetic
creatures is more straight forward, and easier, than dealing with the
love triangles, so that's what they concentrate on.
This series actually reminded me of the first season of
Buffy quite a bit. In that first set of
shows the series was still feeling its way around, trying to be hip and
but also a bit unsure of what to do with the characters.
It wasn't until the second season that Buffy
really clicked and turned into the series we all know and love. Blood Ties is a lot like those early Buffy
episodes. There's nothing wrong with
them, but it largely feels like a monster-of-the-week show. The problem is that the show never really
advances on past that, which is too bad.
It also tries a bit too hard to be cool and hip. Henry
creates graphic novels and the writers
throw around the names of other comic scribes and graphic novel series
that they're in-the-know and hip.
(Henry's work is described at one point like Warren Ellis'
intense.) The problem is that they have
nerdy comic geeks deliver those lines so that they're basically
very people they're trying to win over.
The characters are also pretty bland and never really come
to life. Henry is surprisingly dull,
especially for a vampire. He's not
tormented, fighting against his dark side, nor does he really have an
to him. He's just there as muscle. Even in the romantic parts with Vicki there
aren't any sparks.
Which brings me to Vicki's other love interest, Mike.
He's a GQ pretty boy who is dumb as a box of
rocks, though he's not supposed to be.
At one point in the series Mike has seen a demon emerging from
experienced the effects of an invisible monster, and actually fought
ghost who was trying to kill his boss.
Yet when Vicki comes up to him and confides that she thinks
Succubus on the loose, he laughs and says that there is no such thing. Geeze!
What does it take to convince him that monsters are real?? Then there's Vicki's eye disease that's
mentioned every few episodes even though she is able to see perfectly
fine. She even takes her glasses off in
some scenes to get a better look at evidence.
She's suppose to have almost no night vision, yet every night
running about with her vampire buddy not seeming to notice that she
squat. I could go on, but the main point
is that there really isn't a lot of attention paid to details.
Even with dull characters and curious plot holes (Vicki, who
minored in history, isn't excited when she discovers that her pal is
VIII's son) there are some good stories.
They team encounters some spooky creatures, and some of the set
fairly eerie. The show does get better
as it progresses too. The final episodes
are a marked improvement over the earlier entries.
While I was always interested to see the next
episode I was never really hooked on the show though.
All the disparate parts never really came
together the way I was hoping they would.
By the end of the series, I couldn't help but think that the
have been more interesting if it was a mystery show rather than a
The entire 22 episode series comes on four Blu-ray discs
which are housed in a single 4-pack case.
The 1.78:1 MPEG-4 AVC image is encoded at 1080p, though for
some reason the back cover lists it as a 4:3 image encoded at 1080i. That's a pretty significant error, especially
since the DVD release of the show wasn't anamorphic.
How they could let a glaring error like that
get to the final product is beyond me. In any case the show looks fine, though it's
not a stand out. The skin tones are
accurate and the level of detail is good in the many dark and murky
frequently make up the show. The image
isn't quite as crisp as the best Blu-rays however and never really pops. Digitally it looks fine, with no trace of
aliasing or blocking.
Unfortunately the show only comes with a stereo DTS-HD MA
soundtrack. In 2006 they made a show
like this without a 5.1 audio track??
That's disappointing. There is
some separation in the front though and this lossless audio track will
though I can't help thinking that a 5.1 track would bring the show to
really add something to the viewing experience, especially during the
There's not much in the way of extras included with the
set. There's a purely fluff Behind the
Scenes piece where the actors explain their characters and the premise
show and also say really nice things about each other.
In addition there's a trailer for the series and a photo gallery.
Blood Ties is a decent show that has a lot of potential, but
never quite lives up to it. Though I
found myself easily starting the next episode every time one finished,
never really grabbed me by the throat, so it speak.
Fans of vampire series should definitely
check it out, but make it a rental.
images in this review are not from the Blu-ray disc and do not
represent the image quality on the disc.