Palm Pictures // Unrated // $34.95 // June 26, 2001
Review by Geoffrey Kleinman | posted June 14, 2001
Highly Recommended
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The Series
When I first got the Ultraviolet DVD and saw that the show ran 6 hours, I genuinely thought that it would take me quite a while to get through it. To my surprise I ended up getting 'sucked in' to in and watched all 6 hours over the course of only 2 nights. After watching mini-series like The Lost Empire and the 10th Kingdom, I was very pleased at the way Ultraviolet told its story. Rather than beating you over the head with plot and setup in the first fifteen minutes it takes its time, and gives you the pieces to put things together for yourself. Writer/Director Joe Ahearne realized that he had 6 hours to tell his story, so he takes his time setting everything up while setting a pace that keeps you engaged.

One of the things I really liked about Ultraviolet was the way it approached the issue of vampires. It was obvious that the series was a result of a lot of thought about how Vampires would exist in our modern society and interact with people and technology. An example of this is the simple extension of the classic Vampire trait: "Vampires don't have a reflection." It makes perfect sense then when it's stated - if Vampires don't reflect then how can their voice be 'reflected' over a phone line. Interesting stuff that really does lay new ground for the Vampire myth.

In addition to its take on Vampires and technology, Ultraviolet also has a strong philosophical approach to the whole issue of Vampires v. Vampire hunters. Are Vampires really evil? Should they be exterminated just because they drink blood? If you're at all a fan of Vampire movies you'll get a real kick at the way that Ultraviolet tackles these issues.

In addition to a very strong story, I really enjoyed the performances from actors I had never seen before. It's so refreshing to see a series where you haven't seen the actors perform in a thousand other things. US Mini-Series are notorious for using the same 'TV Actors' again and again and again. It was just nice to watch a TV Mini-Series and NOT see John Larroquette!

The Picture:
Because it comes from British TV, Ultraviolet is in a funky 14X9 letterbox aspect ratio. Unfortunately the DVD wasn't optimized for 16x9 TVs which was a little frustrating (as I do have a widescreen TV). Other than that, the picture was very clear with strong colors. Because Ultraviolet is about vampires there are a number of dark night scenes. The blacks were clear and I was able to clearly make out the details of darkly clothed people on a dark background.

The Sound:
Ultraviolet has both a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track and Dolby Pro-Logic, both tracks sounded good with the Dolby Digital track providing more sense of space. There are several moments in the show with gun fire or vampire's blowing up which really use the surround speakers well.

The Extras:
For some reason Palm decided to 'hide' some of the extra features in the area they call 'the prison'. Unfortunately what it ends up feeling like is a bad mix of the spacial features menu and the chapter summaries. It would have been nice for them to split out these special features and make them more readily accessible to viewers.

Once you do find the extras they are pretty sparse: Each of the 6 shows has an episode summary, there's a UV Dictionary which reviews some of the key terms, and there's a 2 part audio interview with Creator Joe Ahearne. The interview with Joe Ahearne is very interesting. I really enjoyed listening to all that went into creating Ultraviolet, but I really would have liked to have SEEN the conversation. Audio only content is fine for older sources where things only exist in radio broadcasts, but in the case of Ultraviolet I really would have preferred a video interview.

Final Thoughts:
Ultraviolet is a very enjoyable series. If it hadn't been past midnight when I got through the first three episodes, I probably would have gone ahead and watched the second three that first night. As a fan of Vampire movies I really felt that Ultraviolet layed new ground and explored new aspects of Vampires and their struggle with people. I would have loved to had more in the extras area, but with 6 hours of great content I wasn't too disappointed. Ultraviolet is well acted, well directed and thoroughly enjoyable. I can't remember the last time I spent 6 hours watching something and was more than willing to see more. If Ultraviolet ever became a regular series I'd certainly be a faithful watcher!

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