Blood Ties


9-11 p.m., Sunday, March 11

Say what you want to about them vampires, but they never seem to go out of style. Maybe it's the fact that they subsist on such a low-carb, iron-rich liquid diet that's no doubt even more effective than Atkins for keeping one's weight under control (in tandem, of course, with being dead).

Here we find that even Lifetime is getting into the bloodsucker game with this series based on the sci-fi series "The Blood Books" from best-selling author Tanya Huff, about a private eye who takes it upon herself to solve supernatural crimes involving lots of demons and stuff. You're familiar with "Buffy the Vampire Slayer"? Meet Vicki the vampire stalker.

The 13-week original drama series "Blood Ties" sustains what turns out to be a mismatched-partners premise with a measure of suspense and visual dazzle but -- let's face it -- precious little plausibility. Not that this is necessarily a deal killer. For now, let's call it a deal challenger.

Of course, this being Lifetime, the premise here surrounds the courage and pluck of a fearless woman caught in an unimaginable situation, though not so much that she can't slip in a little romance to balance out her vampire-vanquishing obsession. Christina Cox ("The Chronicles of Riddick") is Vicki Nelson, an ex-cop pressed into service as a gumshoe after witnessing a bizarre murder. But she knows that she's in over her head from the get-go because zombies really ain't like you and me. They're way more, you know, homicidal and needy.

But one fateful night while staking out a nightclub, our heroine has a close encounter with Henry Fitzroy (a dashing Kyle Schmid). Henry is, um, how to say this, kind of an older guy even though he has the look of a hubba-hubba twentysomething dreamboat. He's actually 450 years old and the illegitimate son of King Henry VIII. Oh, and he also is a vampire, naturally, leaving us wondering just when it was exactly that Lifetime turned into Sci Fi Channel. Maybe we ought to just start calling it Deathtime. So of course Vicki, after a rough start, winds up kinda bonding with her new undead hunk, and together they search for a serial killer in the two-part, two-hour "Blood" premiere.

Scribe Peter Mohan's teleplay is rich with symbolism and foreboding, with Peter Mohan's elaborate visual effects helping the narrative rise above the dreaded cheeseball factor. The acting is solid enough. Cox makes for a dynamic and unconventional protagonist. And Allan Kroeker's directing mostly keeps things focused and the trappings under control.

But c'mon, let's face it: Even as we check our disbelief at the door, this whole premise is fairly preposterous. We have a futuristic vampire fable mixed with a complex romantic entanglement as Vicki navigates the treacherous waters of vampire love and zombie pursuit. Count Dracula would be turning over in his grave, if he had one.

Blood Ties
Insight Film Studios Ltd. and Kaleidoscope Entertainment Inc.
in association with Lifetime and CHUM Television

Credits: Executive producers: Randy Zalken, Kirk Shaw, Marshall Kesten, Peter Mohan; Producers: Adam J. Shully, Paul McConvey, Mark Winemaker; Director: Allan Kroeker; Teleplay: Peter Mohan; Based on the novels "The Blood Books" by: Tanya Huff; Director of photography: Danny Nowak; Production designer: Andrew Deskin; Editor: Daria Ellerman; Music: James Jandrisch; Visual effects supervisor: Richard Mintak; Casting: Laura Brooke Toplass, Judy Lee. Cast: Vicki Nelson: Christina Cox; Henry Fitzroy: Kyle Schmid; Dylan Neal: Mike Celluci; Coreen Fennel: Gina Holden; Dave: Keith Dallas; Kate: Francoise Yip; Crowley: Eileen Pedde; Mohadeven: Nimet Kanji; Greg: Jody Racico; Norman: Michael Eklund.

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