In a new twist on an old theme, the coolly stylish British miniseries Ultraviolet
brings vampires into the 21st century, though the word vampire
is never uttered in this mix of The X-Files
and somber British TV mysteries like Touching Evil
. Jack Davenport is a police detective who stumbles into an elite government agency when his partner and best friend suddenly becomes a nocturnal thug and bites him on the neck. Davenport reluctantly cuts off his old friends and lovers to join the team, which includes Idris Elba as a merciless ex-soldier and Susannah Harker as a medical researcher, and investigate a web of counterfeiting operations, banking scams, and experimental labs featuring human guinea pigs. "What they're researching is pollution: contamination of their blood supply," offers team leader and former priest Philip Quast, but the question remains: are they soulless monsters out to conquer mankind, or a persecuted minority who just want to live in peace with the humans?
Writer-director-creator Joe Ahearne brings all the traditional vampire tropes up to date; not only do they lack reflections in a mirror, but they don't show up on video and their voices don't carry over phone lines or record on audio tapes ("which makes surveillance a bitch"). Sunlight burns like an acid, and when they die they go up like a flare, leaving a pile of ash in their wake. But it's the sharp character writing, moral quandaries, and ingenious twists of this smart, stylish conspiracy thriller that make this series gripping down to the final episode.
The two-disc DVD set features an audio interview with Ahearne along with episode synopses and character notes. --Sean Axmaker
For centuries, vampires have co-existed in harmony with humans--until now. Now, amidst the growing threat of viral epidemic and the possibility of worldwide environmental catastrophe, humanity has an unprecedented ability to destroy itself. In order to