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British vampire miniseries debuts on Sci Fi Channel tonight.
By Anna L. Kaplan
July 31, 2000
, a contemporary, British retelling of vampire mythology arrives as a six hour miniseries on the Sci-Fi Channel July 31st. Writer-director Joe Ahearne successfully portrays a world in which vampires are real, and still using human blood for sustenance. He manages to do this without even using the word vampire, showing long canines, or resorting to much gore. The show was originally made as six episodes for British television. The Sci-Fi Channel will air two episodes a night for 3 consecutive nights, starting July 31st at 6 PM PT.
In the first hour, originally titled 'Habeus Corpus,' we meet Michael Colefield (Jack Davenport), a police detective in London, whose partner and best friend Jack (Stephen Moyer) is about to get married. Jack disappears the night before his wedding, after being visited by a sinister man who tells him that his time is up. Michael's police investigation into the disappearance is hijacked by two individuals who know information they aren't willing to share, Angie March (Susannah Harker) and Vaughan Rice (Idris Elba). Michael, who does not trust them, learns that Angie and Vaughan are not from internal affairs, as they say, but something else entirely.
Michael watches Vaughan and a hooded hit team kill the man who was last seen with Jack. They use an unusual weapon with a 1/2 mirror video site and carbon bullets. This is the weapon of 'The Squad,' a secret, elite government force led by a priest named Pearse Harman (Philip Quast) that includes Vaughan and Angie. They are trying to eliminate Code V, the condition of vampirism caused by a virus (although they never say the word). Infected individuals are susceptible to suggestion and avoid sunlight. To be full Code V, an individual must be taken and drained completely of blood by another Code V, which only happens to a person who wants to be taken. They cannot be seen in mirrors, video or photos; their voices cannot be transmitted or recorded. They can be eliminated only by UV light, the active ingredient in garlic called allicin, or a bullet to the heart. Any of these things result in the Code V going up in a burst of light and being reduced to a pile of red ash. The Squad knows the ash can be re-animated, but they don't know how.
Michael finds Jack and, using the weapon siting, realizes Jack is Code V. They fight, and Jack bites Michael. Michael shoots him with the weapon, and he disintegrates. Michael is forced to go to Angie for help. She is a doctor specializing in blood and cancer, a hematologist-oncologist. She treats Michael's bite with a laser, so he is not infected. Jack's ashes are put in cold storage along with many, many other similar containers.
By the end of the first two hour installment, viewers will have learned most of what they need to know about Code V and The Squad. The modern vampires are concerned about their food, (i.e., humans) and what effects disease and pollution will have on their blood supply. They are experimenting on humans, for example, to see what high levels of radiation can do. They are fascinated with blood diseases like AIDS.
The six hour series is well-written, suspenseful, and acted brilliantly by a cast with excellent chemistry and on-screen personality. It looks very much like a police drama, with the only visual effects being the melt-down of the Code V individuals. Jack Davenport,who plays the suspicious and conflicted Michael, is a well-known actor on English television, a cult hero after his portrayal of Miles in THIS LIFE, series two of which was written by Joe Ahearne. He most recently was seen in THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY. Idris Elba appeared in ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS. Philip Quast has won two Laurence Olivier Awards for his theater work in England. Susannah Harker, a successful stage, television and feature film performer, may be best known to American audiences as Mattie in PBS's HOUSE OF CARDS or from the film SURVIVING PICASSO.Ultraviolet
could have continued past its six hours. Although many questions get answered by the end, the story has not been finished. In fact, the series is being made in the United States and will appear on Fox Television in the fall.