Done Right, Done Wrong – Part 2

In the world of fictional vampires. there have been plenty of hits and plenty of misses. In my opinion, of course. Some of the hits (Twilight) were misses for me, and some of the misses (Daybreakers) were misses for most, but if not hits for me, at least entertaining enough.

And then there’s Ultraviolet (not the 2006 Kurt Winner/Milla Jovovich movie, which I kinda like, but isn’t that good).

Uv1

Ultraviolet is a 1998 British TV series. It ran one season (or series, as they say in the UK), six episodes and out, and centered around a secret unit in the government charged with hunting down and destroying vampires. Known as Code 5s (V being 5 in Roman numerals…V for Vampire…tee-hee) or informally among the people in the team as leeches.

It has an excellent cast (I was actually prompted to rewatch it after seeing Susannah Harker’s work in the original version of House of Cards recently) including the always reliable Idris Elba and a nice, almost police-procedural feel to it.

The “mythology” of the vampires is developed through the six episodes, and focuses mostly on what they’re up to – what their ultimate goal is. We find out about their research into blood diseases (keeping the food supply clean) and developing artificial blood (shades of Daybreakers!)…and of their ultimate desire to create a nuclear winter situation that will shroud the earth in a perpetual twilight and allow them to go outside all the time without catching some rays (which cause them to catch fire, but not necessarily die.)

But we don’t spend a lot of time with the vampires – they’re sinister, they’re manipulative, and they stay in the shadows and work through the humans they control.

Overall, a great show that sadly ends after those six episodes – apparently the writer/director/creator hadn’t planned on writing and directing all six episodes, and spent so much time doing it that he didn’t have the time to come up with any more stories. Unfortunate, but as he said in an interview, it was a high-concept show, and the problem with those is that you can quickly run out of ideas, and either have to go in a different direction, or start repeating yourself.

So of course, they tried to remake it for the US market…

Uv2

I recently watched the unaired pilot for the US version of Ultraviolet and man, was it wretched. Tedious. Uninteresting.

A lot of that was based on the desire of the producers to move away from a focus on what the vampires were up to. They didn’t think American viewers would be interested in that. Instead “We were interested in the more human side of this story, the idea that Leeches are still dealing with normal kinds of people’s problems.”

Because of course you tune into a show about a secret government agency hunting and destroying vampires because you want to know how vampires deal with normal everyday problems. Even the producer (who had worked on X-Files and was later to work on 24) said ‘frankly we screwed it up and it just didn’t come out that well.’

In both shows, the vampires wanted people to believe that they were being persecuted for being ‘different’. In the British version, it was fairly clear that they were just being manipulative (without absolutely discounting the possibility that they were maybe just a little right). In the American version, it’s presented as possibly being true…yet without the real moral quagmire of that. Because hey, it’s just a normal people problem, right?

Same thing, done right, done wrong.

I’m about a quarter of the way through Blood for Blood. Smooth sailing at the moment.

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