It would be terribly easy to write a whine this afternoon. Days like this make it terribly hard to think positive thoughts of any kind, let alone write anything cheerful. That would be a terrible watse of time: everyone has bad days at work, it’s not news, and generally nobody needs to hear about anyone else’s day. I will save it up for the after work mutual rant session with E tonight. 🙂

Instead, I want to write about a nitfy TV series which I mentioned once a long time ago on this blog: Ultraviolet. That’s this TV series, by the way, not this (aparrently mediocre) movie.

I first heard about UV from Polly and Damien. I will attempt to do justice here to the eloquent wind-up that Damien gave it when he described it to me:

There’s this british cop whose friend goes missing just before his wedding. The cop does his best to find his friend, but is hampered by this wierd secret branch of the police who are also lookng fo his friend and won’t say why. They seem to be very odd secret police; they have these weird guns with a mirror on them and they use these odd graphite bullets. The kinds of people they’re interested in are odd too: they only come out at night, and they seem to be very long-lived.

The plot moves quickly, but not clumsily, handled with the deftness and class we’ve come to expect from good BBC dramas. The ‘V’ word is never mentioned, throughout the entire series.

The tone is bleak in the extreme, but the series holds ones hope and interest through depth of characterization and a gritty british-crimefighting motif that somehow resembles The Bill.

It helps that the core cast are mesmerisingly good: The cop is played by the most excellently laconic Jack Davenport who you might know better as Norrington from the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. There’s also the icy Susannah Harker, who I knew best as Mattie Storin from the House of Cards series, and the awesome Philip Quast, disconcertingly memorable either as Javert in Les Miserables or as himself in Play School (1981-1996).

There’s a catch though: Only six episodes of this series were ever made. It sems quite likely that this is all that will ever be made. The plot is not abruptly cut short, but it aches for a second season…

Discussing it after watching the sixth episode, E suggested that they might have failed to convince their producers that there was enough material in the, uh, leach-slaying genre. After all, Buffy the … Slayer took a heroic crack at it, but even with the introduction of inumerable demons, witches, cyborg monsters, mad scientists and even a god, the series was dogged by repetition.

BBC worshipping fanboy that I am, I would like to imagine that Joe Ahearne, the series creator might have overcome this kind of thing, but I can’t really make myself believe. In the end I have to suspect that E is right. Ultraviolet ended with the flame of creativity still brilliantly alight. Better that than tiredly exhausting every last drop, ending when the flame guttered out.

7 thoughts on “Ultraviolet

  1. Glad you liked it…thought you would. 🙂

    BBC seasons tend to have only six of twelve episodes, and as you said, the flame shone brightly. 🙂 It’s a shame it didn’t get a second season, but I thought it wrapped-up on a satisfyingly unpleasant/disgruntled note that fitted the series.
    I’ve often thought that the setting could make a rather nice roleplaying game…but arriving at a plot that does it justice without being a re-tread of the series would be difficult.

    Ta for mentioning that the series was created by Joe Ahearne. I hadn’t known that, but when you said it I realised I’d seen his name recently. Turns out that he directed some of Season 1 of the new Doctor Who. I’ll forgive him for the blandness of “Father’s Day” and the hokiness of “Boom Town” (can’t say he had much of a script to work with in either case) because he also directed “Dalek”, “Bad Wolf” and “The Parting of the Ways”.

  2. Note to Damien: I have some ideas of milking more value out of a Vampire-driven plot in this vein. We must discuss the roleplaying possibilities at some stage!
    Note to self: Must watch some more of the new Doctor Who some day RSN.
    Note to E:
    And I shall reply: FISH!

  3. Coincidentally, Pen and I have just watched UV for the first time! A few baby-scattered thoughts crammed unwieldily into your comment box:

    1) I’m not sure the “vampire” thing is that amazing, other than to fans who want to point it out. Ultimately it is just search-and-replaced with “leech”, and there are at least two Doctor Who vampire stories that don’t use the word “vampire” either, for starters.

    2) It’s more like Between the Lines than The Bill.

    3) Jack Davenport has a limited range as an actor. It doesn’t have the desired effect when he uses the same mannerisms I’ve already seen in Coupling—a show pitched at his ability as perfectly as The Matrix is for Keanu.

    4) Even with seven seasons of UV, there would still be less episodes than the first two seasons of Buffy—and one of those is a half-season. Not much need for sustained invention there. (Of course, I don’t believe you that Buffy has much repetition, either.)

    5) It didn’t get a second season because it was Ahearne’s show and he a) wasn’t available, b) didn’t have any ideas for further episodes. Re: new Doctor Who, I haven’t rated much of the direction except—fitfully—some of Euros Lyn’s stuff, but Ahearne’s direction of UV was very good.

    6) The first ep of UV is far better than the first ep of Torchwood, which is structured similarly.

  4. UV has a definite resemblance to Between The Lines, which is why I think I love it. BTL is one of my all-time favourite shows. Susannah Harker is just amazing in UV – she’s a really brilliant actress. I think Buffy manages to avoid a lot of the repetition problems of many vampire-based serials – it’s way less repetitive than Forever Knight. , for example.

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