Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Blood Ties

Blood Ties aired in Canada at long last: mystery, monsters and one very hot vampire who appears shirtless a lot of the time. Excellent.
Blood Price, the pilot episode written by series creator Peter Mohan, is actually two one-hour episodes even though they aired together on Monday night. I know it's two one-hours because there's a three minute forty-one second scene at the 42:27 minute mark. That would be the teaser of the second episode. It's my habit to only break down one-hours, so if you'll forgive me, I'm going to ignore the second hour and focus my attention on the first.

The show features a short pre-title teaser followed by four acts that time out as follows:

Teaser: 3:08
Act One: 12:39
Act Two: 7:43
Act Three 9:07
Act Four 9:50

First shot: Toronto skyline at night shot from across the water.

This is a premise pilot that sets up the relationship between Vicky Nelson, private investigator and Henry Fitzroy, vampire. We also learn about Vicky's complicated relationship with her former policing partner, Mike Celluci.

The other main story line in the pilot is the mystery of the week.

In some ways this a familiar form. As in Veronica Mars and Burn Notice, the pilot is divided between a mystery of the week that buttons up nicely and gives us that satisfying episodic feel and the series' story which will continue and compels us to watch week after week.

But Mohan has an interesting twist on how he approaches both sides of the equation.

On the mystery side, Mohan follows not only the investigation but also the villain. In many mystery series, we see the crimes only from the detective's p.o.v. Starting right in the second scene of the teaser, we meet Norman, the villain (he's one of the villains anyway and the guy who calls the evil demon into action). This is great for cranking up the stakes and this storyline provides the scenes for every act breaks except the final curtain on Act Four.

On the premise side of the story, Vicky is introduced to us in the first scene of the teaser. As a result we see her as the central figure in the series and since she's a former cop turned private detective, we quite naturally follow her into the mystery. And since her ex-partner-ex-beau is the cop investigating the same crime his involvement is also organic.

But the third player -- Henry the vampire -- is a little trickier to pull into the story. Mohan introduces him in the third scene of act one. Like Vicky, his first scene is purely for character purposes and only in his second scene does he learn of the crime that he too begins to investigate. He's investigating because the crime looks like it was committed by a vampire and he's afraid that he'll be blamed.

By mid-way through Act One, we have two story lines that are independent investigations of the third story which features the crime unfolding. That puts all three on a collision course. There's Norman and his demon committing evil acts. Vicky in a reluctant partnership with Celluci investigating. And Henry the vampire, investigating the same crimes on his own.

Mohan nimbly holds the collision off until the closing moments of the fourth act when Henry drives the demon away and then Vicky attacks Henry to bring down the final curtain of the episode.

It's a cool and original structure.


Lucy said...

This thing's got a vampire caled Henry??? That's like calling a werewolf Maurice. Can't watch it now ; )

Jill Golick said...

The vampire's full name is Henry Fitzroy, making him the illegitimate son of King Henry VIII. Not bad lineage for a blood sucker after all.

Lucy said...

A royal vampire! Niiiiice. That's so obvious. Why didn't Anne Rice et al think of that??

Anne said...

Don't forget "Duke of Richmond"

Stephen J. said...

I thought it was very interesting that you cited as a strength something I thought of as a very big weakness in the storyline: namely, the introduction of Norman almost right away and an explanation of what he's doing.

It is true that this is a very different way of approaching it, but I'm not sure the novelty compensates for its inherent drawback: namely, that this creates a situation where the audience knows from the get-go the answer to the mystery the characters have to spend two hours solving. To be honest, I can't think of a more effective way to kill any dramatic tension from the start.

This may just have been my reaction as a fan of the original novel (in which Norman's involvement in what's going on is brought out much more slowly and subtly, and Norman himself is a lot more sympathetic and interesting because we see where he came from first), but I found that it seriously undermined my interest in the episode. But then again, as my wife says, perhaps the first thing that always gets cut is sympathetic character development for the villain.

(E.g.: In the book, Norman's last line is: "YOU WILL NOT IGNORE ME! YOU WON'T! YOU WON'T! YOU WON'T!" In the pilot, it's "Aw, crap." Not exactly heartwrenching.)

Jill Golick said...

I actually thought Norman was more well rounded and sympathetic than many villains. You don't have the same space in series for development of (non-continuing) characters as you do in a novel, but I felt that over the course of the episode you came to understand Norman's motivation.

Part of raising his story line so early may have to do with the fact that this is genre series. I think it qualifies as horror. And you want to see some horror in action early on. Unless you go to the villain's POV how do you ever get those moments inside of the witch craft?

Going to the villain's pov isn't something we've seen in the detective genre (which this is also) on tv a lot recently, but it is certainly a well known way of telling mystery stories and a good way of satisfying the needs of both genres at once.

From a pilot writer's standpoint, it's always fun to see observe another writer's technique and throw it into the toolbox in case a need arises for it in the future.

AlisaSG said...

I enjoyed reading the "Running With My Eyes Closed" BT (Blood Ties) article, because it expanded those perspectives already heard from other BT viewers. As for anyone having issues with "Henry"..

Clearly some people will never be impressed, no matter how it's spelled or told or whatever, since we all carry our favorite whatevers into reading or watching something new.

HOWEVER, short of revealing / telling spoilers for future eps, I came into watching this BT series with a neutral attitude of "let's see how it works on its own".

I had recently seen BLADE a few months prior, so I was still WOW'd and awed by one particular Blade ep and its extremely powerful music and camera scenes for a good chunk of of 30 minutes. Nothing could compare from any direction with that particular BLADE episode, from any direction in my own biased POV. And funny thing about that same BLADE ep, I hated the first half of the story line, because of its connections into point blank porn bars and slasher freaks.

That's where I started watching BLOOD TIES from. I hadn't expected to watch any more eps, but thought I'd try just for the sake of finding Henry and Vicki and Mike's 3-some relationship sort of interesting in a warped type of clashy way. So, granted, I HAD to remove BLADE and all the other vampires from vampire lore out of my mind, and start anew again with BLOOD TIES.

By the 5th Blood Ties story, my heart was captured for sure, but by ep #8 my soul was sealed.. OMG!!
Yes, the stories DO GET BETTER (and BETTER!!). If it's not necessarily the storyline itself, it's the conflicts that have pulled me closer into tracking the characters, with their own personal issues and demons.

As for naming vampires, Barnabas Collins wasn't such a hot name either, but he started it all in my life! (LOL!). I wonder what viewers would think if Adrian Paul were to portray a vampire named
"Mac" (that's short for Duncan MacLeod).. Highlander fans would be all over this series!!

So, in retrospect, there's nothing wrong in naming an adorable vamp as "Henry" (true vamps are -supposed- to be *vampy*!). At least even with his vamp make-up on, he's still adorable to watch! I can't say that for the Wraith (who are vampire-like on SG-Atlantis) or Angel.

It's not what's in Henry's name that counts, but what's become part of his (own & family) *LEGACY* that probably matters more. *g*

j said...

I think I may have lost a very long reply to this topic, and I'm just testing to see if this reply sticks or not, either.

Anywho, I admire the intriguing POV this article sheds upon Norman. (I sort of liked him before he went evil, but as the actor himself commented - Norman is just misunderstood..) Wait til NORMAN comes back.. not saying when, but he *promised* (and he does! and it's an OMG!!)

For anyone who just wants to put up road blocks and not watch further eps, I have a confession. I had wanted to see the rest of the BT series. However, I did NOT want to watch the next ep
"Bad Juju" (ep# 1x03). It's the subject matter that kept blocking me away - not my favorite.

The good news is that I put aside my mental dislikes, and watched anyway. And I'm glad I did. I learned something new about Henry, plus I got to see a special side of him as well.
very happy GRIN!!!

(sorry, I'm not telling.. it's available on i-TUNES and Lifetime's eps site, for those who are able to see it or willing.)

and the longer comment - is if any viewers bail out now, they'll miss the *BEST* that's yet to come. And it keeps on getting better with age, as well. ;)


Anonymous said...

I also came into this series expecting without real high expectations. Let's be honest, vampire fiction is not exactly War and Peace. I was a big Anne Rice fan but most of what I've read since has been pretty tacky. But hey, tacky is OK once in a while. This series turned out to be a pleasant surprise. It is well written and well acted. The monster of the week provides only a platform for the true story here. The interrelationships of the three main characters provides enough human interest to keep me coming back week after week. And it does get better and better. I had not expected to be sucked in, but here I am, impatiently waiting for October when Blood Ties resumes in the States.

Annalaise duChat

Annalaise duChat said...

I also came into this series expecting without real high expectations. Let's be honest, vampire fiction is not exactly War and Peace. I was a big Anne Rice fan but most of what I've read since has been pretty tacky. But hey, tacky is OK once in a while.

This series turned out to be a pleasant surprise. It is well written and well acted. The monster of the week provides only a platform for the true story here. The interrelationships of the three main characters provides enough human interest to keep me coming back week after week, and it does get better and better. I had not expected to be sucked in, but here I am, impatiently waiting for October when Blood Ties resumes in the States.

Oh, and Henry is not my idea of a vampiric name either, but the guy just grows on you.

Anonymous said...

Interesting analogy of the story and character lines. I simply get a kick out of the campy nature of the series as a replacement for the goofy Buffy and Angel series. The steady diet of trashy families flopping from bed to bed (and neighbor to neighbor) pushed me to look for some fun without all the seriousness. BT fills the bill and while Henry is in fact "adorable" and quite young, Schmid does a pretty good job of convincing us he isn't a youngster but really has experienced life in a way none of us could. That must take some talent. And who cares if his name is Henry, or Alfred, or Hank. You certainly wouldn't want him given a name that screams 2007 - like Chad or Jason etc. Love the show and am anxious to see the next 12 episodes. Too bad my friends from Washington DC couldn't get beyond the first 6 episodes before bailing...some people just take it too seriously! ;-)

That's MIZZ Gypsy To You! said...

You know, it took me a little while to figure out the dislike for naming a vampire Henry. I still don't really get it but after Angel and Drusilla, I guess you come to expect your vampires to have grandiose sounding names. Doesn't much explain Spike, though, and his real name was Edward, as I recall.

Seriously, though, I can't help thinking the person complaining wasn't actually complaining. The wink gave it away.

Pleasant surprise to read such an upbeat review of the show. I haven't seen many reviews and most have been guarded at best. Here in the U.S., we've seen the first 12 episodes and we know it's good. I was concerned about the Canadian reviewers who didn't seem to recognize quality in their homegrown gem. (Hint: Canada has a better health care system and better vampires than the U.S. We do zombies better down here, though. But that might constitute a political statement so I think I'd better stop...)

Anonymous said...

People need to stop comparing Blood Ties to other vampires. Every author has their own spin on how they want their vampires to behave and Tanya Huff is no different. Blood Ties does not follow other versions of vampires, it stands alone in the way they portray Henry and the villians of the shows. It's not supposed to be like everything else you've seen before.

I love Blood Ties and can't wait to see more episodes. I just wish we could get some kind of commitment from Lifetime for additional new episodes. This show deserves better. Its well written, the acting is excellent, the chemistry between the actors is great, its funny, camp, dramatic, what else could you ask for.

Laurel said...

I love this show!
Henry Fitzroy is very charmingly portrayed by Kyle Schmid - young though he may be. The old world charm of the character is well delivered, and the the whole cast does an admirable job of becoming a cohesive whole in just a couple of episodes. Christina Cox is amazingly like the Vicki of the books, and Dylan Neal is just how I pictured Mike Celluci. While somewhat different from Tanya Huff's story lines the show is very well crafted and acted. The tension between Henry, Vicki and Mike is straight out of the books. (And they are definately easy on the eyes).
For some of us in the States this show has become a very happy addiction! I hope we get more seasons.

Annalaise duChat said...


I just wanted to let you know that today is the one year Anniversary of the first airing of a wonderful TV show called Blood Ties on the Lifetime network. Yes, one year ago today we were introduced to Henry Fitzroy (Kyle Schmid), Victoria Nelson (Christina Cox) and Mike Celluci (Dylan Neal) for the first time. The rest is, as they say is history. If you are not aware of the internet phenomenon surrounding the show, you must be hiding your head in the sand! Check out the TV poll sites like What an incredible fan base it has! I personally have communicated with people from all over the world who have taking this little show into their hearts, and made it their own.

But I am very sad to say that this wonderfully entertaining show has not as of yet been renewed by the Lifetime network for a third season. That is unfortunate, because the show has a tremendous following of loyal and dedicated fans. What a wonderful marketing opportunity for the right network to access the female market with ages ranging from teen to 60+. There seems to be no age limit to the type of woman to which this show appeals. We come from all economic backgrounds, countries and races as well.

What is the appeal? A strong female lead portrayed by the amazingly beautiful Christina Cox, two extremely handsome and talented male co-stars, Kyle Schmid and Dylan Neal, make the show entertaining to watch. Great writing, interesting weekly plots and a steamy romantic back story keep viewers coming back week after week. It would be a shame to lose this gem of a show.

I personally would like to see this show given another chance. That is the motivation behind the International Renew Blood Ties Day Campaign. We as loyal fans are pushing to “Save Our Show” by posting and emailing to bring it into the public eye., and to the attention of networks that might possible consider it for their Fall lineup.

Thank you for your consideration.

“Annalaise duChat”