Blade: The Complete Series

Blade: The Complete Series


Reviewed by: Stephen Carty

Though the decent first movie, Blade, arguably re-started comic book movies, things went downhill afterwards with the over-actioned Blade II and the franchise-killing follow-up, Blade Trinity.

Looking for a clean slate, Blade-keeper David Goyer (he wrote all three flicks and directed the third) teamed up with popular DC comic-writer Geoff Johns and decided a TV show was the perfect format to revive everyone’s favourite daywalker.

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While investigating the dubious death of her twin brother, Krista Starr (Jill Wagner) finds out about the shocking existence of vampires. While they mostly operate as undercover crime families, one called Blade (Kirk 'Sticky Fingaz' Jones) – a half-vamp with all their strengths and none of their weaknesses – protects innocent people with the help of weapons-maker, Shen (Nelson Lee). Afer clues lead Krista to prominent businessman Marcus Van Sciver (Neil Jackson) – the head of a vampire dynasty called ‘the House of Chthon’ – she gets bitten and it's only a matter of time before the vampiric tendancies take over her rational mind. In order to take down their organisation from within, Blade gives Krista the same serum he uses to keep his bloodthirst at bay and asks her to join his neverending fight.

So does the show bring new life to the undead or is it be another stake through the heart?

Interestingly, the answer is both. While the series is well-written, full of intriguing storylines and better than expected, it was cancelled before it had a chance to go anywhere. While I genuinely think cancellation means nothing nowadays as plenty of potentially-good programmes are cut off before they can develop (Firefly, Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip), it is a sad day when production companies are so short-sighted. Involving characters, a smidgeon of intelligence and a story worth telling? Cancel that pronto. Clichéd caricatures, mindless action and boring self-contained episodes of the week? Six series, minimum.

As for the show, the first thing you notice is that Wesley Snipes isn’t playing the titular role. Filling these big shoes is rapper/actor Jones who looks the part, nails intense stares and does well with a tough character (Blade says little, shows no emotion and makes Batman look like Mary Poppins). Ultimately, though, the problem isn’t replacing Snipes (you stop thinking ‘it’s not Wesley’ after a few episodes), it is that he is often off screen for long spells and ends up being the third wheel in his own show.

Thankfully, the two who end up taking centre stage – Jill Wagner and Neil Jackson – perform admirably. While the show (blessedly) misses no opportunity to show Wagner scantily clad, she manages to craft a real character we end up caring for. As for Jackson’s self-admitted ‘moustache-tweaking’ villain Van Sciver, his mixture of gentleman and ruthless homicidal mastermind makes for a baddie fangs ahead of any from the film adaptations.

In the smaller roles, Jessica Gower is effective as the evil Chase, Emily Hurst is suitably creepy as child-vampire Charlotte and Lee is a personal favourite as the wisecracking Shen. While I would have liked to have seen more of Larry Poindexter’s FBI agent Ray Collins and Bokeem Woodbine’s badass Steppin’ Razor, I’m just happy there was no Stan Lee cameo.

Ultimately, what I like most about the show – and probably what those who turned off like least – is that it’s a big story that unravels over the course of the series. It isn’t just Blade killing a different ‘monster of the week’ every episode (cynically, this would have been more popular), it’s a big inter-connected canvas in the style of The Sopranos (Goyer’s inspiration). Though it stumbles for the first four episodes or so, those who suffer through will find something much more gripping than, say, Dominic Purcell playing Dracula.

Overall, it’s a shame that Blade: The Series was cancelled. There might be a few touchstones to the movies (Blade has the same look/car, similar shots of the city fast-forwarding, the same footage of his mother is used) but this isn’t what viewers expected from a Blade show. Where we have a better-than-expected crime-saga, I suspect audiences would’ve rather seen Wesley Snipes fighting CGI vampires like the inferior second and third movies. If you can accept it for what it is, this is a series worth getting your teeth into.

Reviewed on: 03 Dec 2008
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Blade: The Complete Series packshot
The vampire killer sinks his teeth into a spin-off series.
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Director: Peter O'Fallon, Michael Robison, John Fawcett, Felix Enriquez Alcalá, Alex Chapple, David Straiton, Norberto Barba, Brad Turner, Ken Girotti

Writer: Geoff Johns, David S Goyer, David Simkins, Adam Targum, Daniel Truly, Barbara Ellis Nance, Chris Ruppenthal

Starring: Kirk "Sticky Fingaz" Jones, Jill Wagner, Jessica Gower, Neil Jackson, Nelson Lee, Larry Poindexter, P Lynn Johnson, Emily Hirst, John DeSantis, Sahar Biniaz

Year: 2006

Runtime: 60 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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