Friday, September 26, 2008


There have been a number of depictions of vampires in movies and television – most of them different shades of terrible. Although undead bloodsuckers have been a staple of filmed entertainment since before the era of talkies, few of them are really worth the time it takes to watch them. A notable exception to this is the television series Ultraviolet. Filmed in 1998 for British television, it is only five hours long, but what it lacks in quantity, it makes up for in quality. The show stars Jack Davenport (Coupling, Pirates of the Caribbean), the great Idris Elba (Stringer Bell on The Wire), Susannah Harker, and Philip Quast.

Davenport plays a London police detective, whose partner, under suspicion for corruption, becomes the target of an investigation by a mysterious agency. When Davenport tries to help his partner, a meeting goes wrong, the partner attacks him, and Davenport kills his partner with a grenade, only to see him explode and turn into ashes. Davenport is then recruited into the agency, which is fighting vampires, such as Davenport’s recently turned partner.

Interestingly enough, the word vampire is never spoken. Instead they are referred to as “leeches”, or, cleverly, as “Class Fives” (think about it and you’ll get it). The central thrust of the series is Davenport’s being caught between two worlds. His new partners believe they are waging a war to save the human race, while the vampires claim they only want to co-exist in peace. Only in the last episode is the truth revealed.

This series is available cheaply on DVD, and anyone interested in the subject matter would be well advised to seek it out. One note, although there is a certain open-endedness about the conclusion, this is how creator Joe Ahearne intended it to be. There were no further episodes planned. A pilot for an American version was shot, but by all accounts, it was a mess, and the series was not picked up.

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