Drive a stake through my heart. Blood Ties has been cancelled.
For those of you who have missed the 21 episodes, Blood Ties is the TV show based on Tanya Huff’s successful series of books. Huff’s books have been printed in seven languages and available the world over. All seven books have had multiple runs and the first – Blood Price – is now in its 17th printing. Clearly – her characters have a strong international following.
The show’s story lines are an updated and mature take the much-loved Buffy The Vampire Slayer series. In both cases, we get equal measures of terrific monsters, tight dialogue and character conflict arcs. There’s story mythology, great fight scenes, obligatory vampings and black magic on vellum pages bound in fat leather tomes. In the case of Blood Ties, the story is all for grown ups.
Hess’ central three characters are Vicki, Mike and the Vampire Henry Fitzroy – the illegitimate son of Henry VIII – are well-developed, interesting, flawed and wildly entangled with each other.
Vicki Nelson’s relationships with the two are complex. Mike is her ex partner and ex lover but neither Mike nor Vicki seem completely content with the separation. He has what she hasn’t got – a career as a homicide cop. (hers was ended by the onset of a progressive illness – Retinitis Pigmentosa). She has what he hasn’t got – great intellect and profound instincts for crime-solving. They are at once attracted and repelled by each other – the blissful torment of familiarity.
Her relationship with Henry is briefer but equally intense. Vicki saved Henry’s life by literally letting him drink her blood – which has created a physical bond between them. She is immune to Henry’s suggestive hypnosis – what the show calls “vamping”. His attraction to her is immediate. That Henry also happens to be a sophisticated vampire who thrives in the one place Vicki can’t – the dark. This is one of the many “opposites” – a recurring theme of the show – she lives in daylight and he in the dark.
Naturally, Mike and Henry have met and predictably, they complete the triangle. They develop a territorial relationship defined in large part by Vicki, but also as two characters each used to their own version of power over others.
But now … all that? All that is gone. 21 episodes and it’s over. One season, a wow cliffhanger and it’s straight onto the “save the show” campaign. In some corners, there is talk about having aired a “second” season but that is just marketing around how the 21 episodes were aired. The is one full season. That’s it.
But I want more!
So why save the show? Here are my top eight reasons:
Reason #1: There’s lots left in the story engine.
The end of Episode 21 had the Vampire leaving town and Mike devastated at being thrown out of the police force. Vicki is forced to chose between the two men in her life and is left with neither. She also has that progressive blindness that will eventually make her dependent. How will her independent nature reconcile with her illness? Then there’s those nasty black magic tattoos Vicki now bears on her wrists and a blood contract she made with mystical baddies. Henry is her best chance at surviving whatever revenge they have in store for her.
Any one of those story arcs could take seasons to resolve!
Reason #2: Vicki Nelson – Private Investigator
Vicki Nelson – both in the books and TV Series – presents as a smart, self-sufficient woman. And that – dear readers – is wonderful. How often do we see the female lead function as the reason for the rescue? Or as the secondary characters after the men?
Vicki is the central character of the show and it is around her that all the action is centred. While there are two other male characters – they are part of her world and not the other way around. That’s an important distinction and makes all the difference.
Competent female characters are rare. Keeping Vicki as part of the viewing landscape broadens the genre and attracts that large segment that wants to “see themselves” portrayed in a central fashion.
Reason #3: Henry Fitzroy – The Vampire
Bram Stoker started it.
A vampire is a wanting whisper of desire.
He is a brush of open lips and hard incisors teasing a bare carotid artery.
A vampire is that erotic mix of irresistible power, bestial impulses, and personally imposed self-denial. Vampires represent a basic human torment we all share – that of competing desires. At once we both want and deny ourselves – choices we have to submit or resist our desire for any of human vices. A vampire is also that illicit love that is bound to go wrong but we are compelled to go fall headlong nonetheless.
Henry Fitzroy is impossibly handsome; a favoured son of royalty. He has chivalrous manners, and is cultured, artistic, and aloof. It is just too soon to say good-bye to this fascinating vampire.
Reason #4: Mike Celluci – Homicide Cop
Mike Celluci may be – for a viewer – the most pivotal character. He is the character the most rooted in our reality. It is with Mike, we get a chance to reconcile the fantasmagoric and mythical world of the show with our own world. Without Mike, we cannot fully appreciate the wonder of Vampires, of magic, of monsters and Things not of this World.
Mike struggles to navigate through this newly emerging world and in many ways – his struggles make us comfortable because we too share scepticism and need the help of both Vicki and the Vampire. Mike is Us.
Mike also works as the perfect foil for both Vicki and Henry. He is the third part of a terrifically complex triangle.
Reason #5: The Production Values Part I
The show is filmed in Canada and is accompanied by the very high standards we’ve come to expect from film crews north of the 49th. This includes the lighting, costumes, make up, directing, and acting. There is a richness and warmth that has been captured on film that makes this a visually attractive show to watch. In particular – there is a “golden” look to parts of the show – as if scenes have been filmed with a hint of sunlight. The sun is a vampire’s enemy but visually adds tremendous richness. That pervasive warm glow is a nice juxtaposition.
For those who are familiar with Canadian television, it’s always a treat to see favourite local actors appear. One of my favourites was seeing Fred Ewanuick (of Corner Gas fame) have a lead role in the episode “Wrapped”.
Reason #6: The Production Values Part II – The Writing
I’m showing my bias here and I firmly believe that writing is one of two fundamental success factors of a show (the other is electric acting). Blood Ties has its pacing down and is just the right mix of camp, humour and seriousness. If anyone longs for snappy lines and zippy exchanges, Blood Ties is a tonic. Yet the writers always ground us in reality just before things get out of hand.
The writers have also done a great job at mixing the “stand alone” episode with the overall story arcs – the developing / deteriorating relationships among all three characters. Every show is a perfect serving of meat and potatoes.
Reason #7: The Fan Base Continues to Grow
According to the fine folks at Kyle Schmid’s Fan Website, the show has continued to attract new fans. Most of this new viewership is reported to be from the most powerful form of fandom – word of mouth.
Think about this for a minute. If you are a Big Decision-Maker and looking for a show to put on your network, wouldn’t you want to find just such a hidden gem of a show? One where the viewers themselves are selling the merits of the show? Certainly there are few types of people more passionate than an enthusiastic SF fan.
Reason #8: The international appeal of the books and the show
At the end of the day, the driving factor for any show’s survival is viewers. Can a studio bank on the investment it makes in the show?
These books and the show are popular the world over. They have never been out of print. The 21-show season is getting aired in various corners of the globe and a solid fan base continues to grow.
What better reason to invest in a show that having a ready-made, international viewing audience that is clamouring for more?
Show your support!
There are a few places where you can sign on-line petitions. Check out this at Kyle Schmid’s Fan Site for complete details on how to help get the show back. It lists both internet-based petitions as well as a convenient summary of addresses for postcards.