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Ultraviolet? More Like Stringer Bell, Vampire Hunter! - The Book of the Celestial Cow

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September 10th, 2008


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10:25 pm - Ultraviolet? More Like Stringer Bell, Vampire Hunter!
I don't recall now when or where I first heard about Ultraviolet. I think it was at dinner, and some girl I didn't know was talking about it. All I really found out about...you know what, was it meghatron? Maybe. Anyway, all I knew was that it was a six-episode British vampire series where they never used the word "vampire" and that the first half seems like it's a bunch of unrelated things until you find out how everything's connected in the second half. I was intrigued, so I put it in my mental queue.

Then, when I was looking for some short British series to mainline, I looked it up and discovered that it starred...Idris Elba. Better known as Stringer Bell from The Wire, which I had just watched. It also starred Jack Davenport, better known as Steve from Coupling, which I was about to watch. It seemed that Ultraviolet's time had come.

Ultraviolet is about a secret, Church-sanctioned, paramilitary organization that hunts vampires! Except they don't call them vampires. They refer to them as "Code 5" or leeches. Like the movie Near Dark, the intention is to give vampires a more realistic treatment. To that end, there's a whole lot of science. They've managed to weaponize the lore by shooting graphite bullets and hurling gas grenades with the active ingredient in garlic. The scientific approach to the mythology is one of the show's major strengths. They add a new dimension to the "Vampires have no reflections and don't show up on camera" idea that I thought was extremely clever. On the other hand, for no scientific reason at all, the vampires FUCKING EXPLODE when they die. Which is awesome.

Michael (Jack Davenport) is living an ordinary life as a detective until he gets drafted into this organization, which could use someone with detectiving skills. Because all they have right now is a priest, an ex-military man (Idris Elba, speaking in his natural accent), and a doctor (the lovely Susannah Harker...who had to have an edge in the casting process, right?). His friend Kirsty, however, doesn't take his disappearance lightly and, predictably, ends up in a whole mess of trouble.

The series progresses with our team investigating various strange occurrences, sort of like a version of The X-Files where the answer is always "It's a vampire, Scully." But those wily vampires are up to something. They appear to be experimenting. But to what end? Some of the leeches put forth the idea that they're trying to figure out ways to go all sparkly and quit drinking people. Many of them ask the question, "Why are we being hunted?" Is a vampire inherently bad? In the world of Ultraviolet, where vampires don't "vamp out" or bare their pointy teeth, it's easy to see them as simply dead people with drinking problems. Perhaps we could coexist after all. The series builds toward the eventual revelation of the vampires' endgame, which is pretty sweet.

The show is very seeeeeeeeeeeerious, however. It's cold and somber, with almost no humor. Again, it's keeping up realistic appearances, no self-aware vampire mocking here.

It's a good, solid series, but I'm not surprised that it's not more popular and well-known. While it's an interesting spin on vampires, it's not terribly fun. It's well acted, well written, and well directed, however. And I would definitely recommend it to anyone who wants to see Steve and Stringer hunt vampires together.
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Current Music: AFI - This Celluloid Dream

(32 memoirs | Describe me as "inscrutable")

Comments:


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From:mycenae
Date:September 11th, 2008 06:55 am (UTC)
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I don't think I've ever seen Jack Davenport do anything other than comedy... This sounds worth watching just for the novelty of seeing him be seeeeeeeeeeerious. Also I must make a seeeeeeeeeeeeeerious scientific study of whether Idris Elba is hotter with a British accent or with Stringer Bell's srs bzns glasses. (I just finished the first season of The Wire, finally. Any scene where the srs bzns glasses make an appearance is automatically my new favorite scene. Also sometimes I watch for the plot.)
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From:spectralbovine
Date:September 11th, 2008 07:03 am (UTC)
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I think that study definitely needs to be commissioned!

Glad you're enjoying The Wire! Stringer Bell and his srs bzns glasses are pretty damn awesome.

Jack Davenport is pretty serious and dramatic in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. But he's more serious here, because vampires are no laughing matter.

Seriously, I don't think a character so much as cracks a smile the whole show.
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From:sdwolfpup
Date:September 11th, 2008 07:27 am (UTC)
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This one has been in my queue since I found out Idris Elba was in it back when I was still in the middle of watching The Wire. I'm not sure I'm ready for vampires given all of the recent Twilight-madness, especially seeeeeerious vampires, but it might be worth it for Elba.
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From:minim_calibre
Date:September 11th, 2008 02:10 pm (UTC)
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DUDE. SO WORTH IT. DO NOT MAKE ME PUSH THE DVDS ON YOU AND FORCE YOU TO WATCH IT.

Or do. Because it's really, really good. I need to watch it again. Hmm. Wonder if I got my DVDs back from cupcake_goth. (I think I did.)
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From:soleta_nf
Date:September 11th, 2008 11:02 am (UTC)
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Ooh, that sounded really interesting, up until the last paragraph. Still, I'll try to check out at least the premiere sometime. Is it only one season so far? Is it still airing? I'd love to see Stringer Bell, especially with his natural accent.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:September 11th, 2008 03:11 pm (UTC)
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It's from 1998, and there's only one season, period. It's really good, and it's worth watching because it's pretty cool.
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From:inigo
Date:September 11th, 2008 01:54 pm (UTC)
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It's still repeated here occasionally on SciFi but I don't think I ever saw the whole series. I seem to remember thinking it was too violent for my tastes.

As you are mainlining British TV, have you tried Edge of Darkness, The Singing Detective, This Life, Afterlife, I, Claudius, Testament of Youth, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, Boys from the Black Stuff, Tutti Frutti, House of Cards, G B H, The Buddha of Surburbia?
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:September 11th, 2008 03:12 pm (UTC)
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AAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.
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From:taraljc
Date:September 11th, 2008 02:23 pm (UTC)
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I loves UV, and am always surprised it doesn't have more of a following Stateside, since SFC has aired it twice I think.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:September 11th, 2008 03:13 pm (UTC)
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I mean, people like their vampire shows! And this one is quality.
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From:daynr
Date:September 11th, 2008 02:33 pm (UTC)
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now this one sounds interesting, but I like serious fantasy type stuff.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:September 11th, 2008 03:13 pm (UTC)
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Then it's right up your alley! Plus, all the episode titles are in Latin.
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From:stella_hime
Date:September 11th, 2008 03:09 pm (UTC)
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It does sound good, but I've really like to have a little humor with my vampire hunting. I might try it anyway though just for something different. Besides, British TV is usually worth it.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:September 11th, 2008 03:16 pm (UTC)
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Yep, it is. It's only six episodes, so it's not a huge commitment. They make up for the lack of humor by doing some really cool stuff.
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From:electricmonk
Date:September 11th, 2008 03:57 pm (UTC)
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Whoa whoa whoa. Stringer Bell's British? I had no idea (whereas I surmised that Dominic West wasn't really American within an episode or two). He wins the accent award.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:September 11th, 2008 04:02 pm (UTC)
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Doesn't he?? Totally blew my mind too.
(Deleted comment)
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From:spectralbovine
Date:September 11th, 2008 06:13 pm (UTC)
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Hee. I tell you what to watch, not what not to watch!
(Deleted comment)
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From:meghatron
Date:September 11th, 2008 06:06 pm (UTC)
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I take full credit. :)
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From:spectralbovine
Date:September 11th, 2008 06:11 pm (UTC)
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It was you!! So weird, I always had the image that the girl was to my left, but you were across the table. And it seriously did not hit me until I started writing the post that it was you.
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From:zenkitty_714
Date:September 11th, 2008 09:20 pm (UTC)
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I saw the first few episodes on a very crappy download, and I liked it, but I couldn't stand the distortion. I wanted to get a good copy but couldn't find one. Thanks for reminding me; I'll take another look at it.

It is indeed seeeeeeerious, though! No funny here.
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From:maidofawesome
Date:September 12th, 2008 10:08 pm (UTC)
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I've had the dvd of this for years, and I've never watched it. I should.

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