Vampires are all the rage on the small screen. Just look at recent entries Moonlight - The Complete Series, True Blood: The Complete First Season (HBO Series), or the CW's "The Vampire Diaries."
Blood Ties is a Canadian TV production that was filmed as a 22-episode season. In the US, Lifetime TV decided to split was was actually one season into two, with the first eleven episodes ("Blood Price" to "Post Partum") as Season One and the remaining eleven ("Norman" to "Deep Dark") as Season Two. This box set collects all 22 episodes for the first time in North America (the British box set that was released several years ago features all 22 episodes, but no extras). The TV budget doesn't allow top-notch special effects, but the show really works with what it has (the set designs are great, but the CGI is largely lacking), and its strength is in the writing and performances.
Blood Ties revolves around Victoria "Vicki" Nelson, an ex-cop with Toronto's Metro police. Vicki was forced to resign due to a degenerative eye disease, retinitis pigmentosa, and is trying to make a living as a private investigator. Her fiery romance with fellow cop Mike Celluci is an on-again, off-again affair, and her first case as a PI gives her more than she bargained for: someone is summoning demonic forces, and Henry Fitzroy, her new partner on the case, just happens to be a 480-year-old vampire and is the illegitimate son of Henry VIII.
The series pilot Blood Price is faithfully based on Tanya Huff's Blood Price (BLOOD SERIES). The remainder of the season finds Vicki exploring demons, incubi, reanimated corpses, shapeshifters, mummies, voodoo, ghosts...while caught in a crackling love triangle between former flame Mike and sensual, deadly Henry (Kyle Schmid beat out RPatz as sexiest vampire in a recent poll). Vicki's new assistant is the perky Goth Coreen, who also has her eye on Henry.
Blood Ties consistently satisfies my cravings for an intelligently handled supernatural cop drama. Its premise sounds promising in print, but without Blood Ties' cleverly crafted story arcs and meaningful character interaction, it would amount to little more than a tired monster-movie-of-the-week retread. This is a show that wisely knows not to take itself too seriously, leading to fast and furious one-liners, visual gags and impeccable comedic timing. The entire Canadian cast and crew does a consistently amazing job of bringing Blood Ties to life, and it's great to see a Canadian production receive airtime in the States.
The show's setting is Toronto but is filmed in Vancouver (with exterior shots of identifying Toronto landmarks), but it's still Canadian through-and-through, a rarity in days where tired Toronto is expected to double as Everyamericancity. This may be the first show since Forever Knight - The Trilogy, Part 1 (1992 - 1993) and Due South: The Ultimate Collection - Three Complete Seasons that revels in its Canadianness.
Although Blood Ties is currently off the air, its fan base continues to spread through word of mouth, Blood Ties hidden object game featuring characters, locations, and audio from the show, and Internet groups, thereby bringing new viewers into the fold. It has been at least a decade since I felt so strongly about a TV show; I was so moved by Blood Ties' strong female role model and intriguing blend of romance, police procedural, and the supernatural that I downloaded several episodes via iTunes and recruited several friends to the show.
Blood Ties remains my favorite post-Forever Knight - The Trilogy, Part 1 (1992 - 1993) for its enchanting blend of humor, passion, action, moral dilemmas, and the mortal (and immortal) ties that bind. Tanya Huff's source material has been toned down enough to allow families to enjoy Blood Ties together. Blood Ties protagonist Vicki Nelson (Christina Cox) is a strong positive role model for women through her physicality, self-reliance despite disability, and intelligence.
It's instantly obvious (except to American/Canadian networks who were reluctant to pick up the show for a second season, grrr...) why Blood Ties was nominated for numerous awards such as Constellation and Leo Awards. The entire cast, headed by Christina Cox (Vicki), Kyle Schmid (Henry), Dylan Neal (Mike), and Gina Holden (Coreen), has an outstanding chemistry that shines on-screen, and I can't wait to finally own the complete Blood Ties on DVD!