The amount of vampire based series and films now on air or coming out it really just quite ridiculous. I’m not sure why this giant swelling in interest in vampire lore and whatnot has come from (well, blame Twilight and True Blood I guess), but even when you get a show like Blood Ties which pre-dates those two efforts by a couple of years, you have to wonder just why everyone is so obsessed with vampires nowadays. I suppose there is some appeal and I’m a fan of the Joss Whedon vampire based outings but the more recent efforts have left me unimpressed.
Based on the best-selling novels by Tanya Huff, this series originally aired on Lifetime in 2006. With Twilight: New Moon leaving theaters, and True Blood’s third season yet to air this summer on HBO, Blood Ties: The Complete Series hits stores just in time to satiate fans of fang-focused entertainment. Blood Ties follows the killer chronicles of private investigator Vicki Nelson (played by Christina Cox), and her cohort Henry Fitzroy (played by Kyle Schmid), who just happens to be a 480-year-old bloodsucker. What started as a violent murder witnessed by Nelson in the streets of Toronto turns into a maelstrom of murder, mystery, and paranormal mayhem. Over the course of 22 episodes, Nelson and Fitzroy’s crime-busting relationship starts to ignite sparks, only making her current situation with former partner / romantic interest Mike Celluci (played by Dylan Neal) more complicated. Saturated in action, drama, romance, and horror, and complete with a behind-the-scenes documentary and trailer, Blood Ties: The Complete Series is the perfect indulgence for the current vampire-crazed masses.
It’s a generic story and one that almost every vampire TV show or movie has: handsome vampire woos attractive girl and, although their love is forbidden for some reason, it creates endless chemistry between them and blah blah blah. There’s nothing original about the way Blood Ties pulls this scenario off so I won’t bore you with the details of it, but those who are enthralled by such things should eat this series up.
Although there’s a pretty good chance you already have. This series is already two years old and first premiered in Canada before porting over to the Lifetime network in the US. Needless to say I don’t watch that channel so I hadn’t heard of this series and laying eyes on it I thought it was something akin to those cheap Disney cartoon knock offs that were so rampant in dollar stores and whatnot. Basically this series looks like True Blood lite, although with a lot less sex, nudity and gore. Although there’s still some of that too (sans nudity).
Of course I don’t even like True Blood. It’s not that it’s a bad show by any means, of course, as it’s well acted and nicely written. I just have no interest in the storyline and as much as I tried to get into it, I just couldn’t (though I didn’t attempt season two yet, so we’ll see). In any case watching what is essentially a watered down and hammier version of that show just doesn’t make for a good time. Not to mention the CGI budget for Blood Ties definitely isn’t up to par either.
So is there anything in this series that works? Well yeah. Of course there is, otherwise it wouldn’t have gone for 22 episodes (which was actually just one season, but was split into two by various networks). Considering I already reviewed the second half of episodes (which was mildly confusing to me at first but it’s such a basic premise that it didn’t require many episodes to understand what was going on), rewatching the first half of the series kind of just filled in the holes for me in the storylines that I felt kind of bewildered on. But once I adjusted to that it was pretty run of the mill stuff and finally seeing the first half made me realize I really didn’t miss much at all. In fact it reminded me a lot of the SyFy series Moonlight, which is really quite a horrible show in of itself. It also was slightly reminiscent of The Dresden Files, which I did enjoy…so it had that going for it.
In any case Blood Ties is a basic cop drama style series with a vampire angle to it. Hell they even plaster “A Crime Series” on the cover to drive that point home. I didn’t find any of the characters or plots particularly engaging or original so I can’t even really distinguish it from any other series of a similar nature. It’s not a real mark against the series so much as against the genre itself—original crime drama that’s engaging is just incredibly rare.
Overall Blood Ties isn’t a bad series…just one I wasn’t interested in. If you’re into the whole vampire phenomenon I’m sure it has some appeal then, but I could go without watching another pointy toothed series for a long while. Rent It.
Much to my surprise Eagle Rock is pushing this series out again, this time on Blu-ray. The set arrives in a very nicely put together four-disc package…but it’s very misleading, since it states that it’s a 4×3 transfer, even though it’s a full 16×9 ratio. But aside from that typo (well, and another one dealing with the audio as well), it’s still a nice set, complete with a booklet detailing each of the twenty-two episodes synopses. Menus are very nicely done as well.
Video arrives in the form of an AVC encoded 1080p transfer. Yeah…1080p, I know the back cover lists it as 1080i, but they don’t seem to have proofreaders, so chalk that up to yet another typo on the cover. It looks surprisingly good, full of detail, sharp colors and…well, just overall looking very strong for a series very few have heard of. The shaky cam work is a bit tedious to look at, but the transfer itself is solid. It’s a very dark show so there isn’t a lot of color use, but I doubt it’s anything that will disappoint.
As an additional surprise the package states that there is Dolby Digital Stereo audio…but nope, it’s DTS-HD MA. Eagle Rock kind of borked it when it came to the specs on the back of this package…sad, really. But as with the video the audio is solid and doesn’t disappoint, although it’s a little soft in the LFE for my tastes.
Extras? Well there’s a brief Behind the Scenes Documentary (24:02), Season 1 Trailer and a Photo Gallery and…nothing else. All the extras are in standard definition, but I suppose the making-of was better than nothing (although it appears to be made up of cut-together individual pieces).
In the end this is a pretty weak package…but then again I don’t really think this show did well enough to warrant anything better. Although it has apparently done well enough for Eagle Rock to warrant a double-dip onto Blu-ray…and fans will probably want to pick this up one up since it’s an actual anamorphic transfer for this release (the previous releases, while widescreen, were letterboxed into a 4×3 frame, so it wasn’t anamorphic) and has DTS-HD audio. At least it’s out there for those who want it. Since this set is basically barebones, give it a Rental.
Blood Ties: The Complete Series arrives on Blu-ray on April 6th.