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Corn Connection: ‘Revelation’ boasts some of series’ best links

The seventh installment of this Corn Connection series is a step up from the previous one, even if the film we’re talking about, Children of the Corn: Revelation, is every bit as unbearable as Children of the Corn 666: Isaac’s Return.revelation

The difference between the two is variety. While 666 featured seemed to find the same connections over and over (Robocop, Corn), the Revelation cast has connections to more than a half-dozen Now Playing Podcast series’ that haven’t been written about in this series.

So, if you’re wrapping up the latest episode in the Now Playing Podcast Children of the Corn Retrospective Series, here’s where you can find some of that film’s stars in the Now Playing universe.

Michael Ironside (Priest)Philip K. Dick Retrospective, The Karate Kid Retrospective, Terminator Retrospective, X-Men Retrospective

Let’s start with the obvious; Michael Ironside probably can’t walk down the street without someone shouting, “See you at the party Richter!”

It’s one of the actor’s best known roles, and Total Recall was reviewed by Now Playing back during the 2011 Philip K. Dick Retrospective.

Ironside also had roles in The Next Karate Kid and Terminator Salvation, two films reviewed in 2010 and 2009, respectively.

And he also appeared as the captain of a battleship in X-Men First Class, although he wasn’t credited. Why he wasn’t credited is a mystery I haven’t not yet Googled. It’s almost a distraction that he wasn’t credited, like I’m thinking more about that than I am about First Class.

Ron Selmour (uncredited)Blade Retrospective, Black Christmas Retrospective, Tron Retrospective, Riddick Retrospective

Selmour had bit parts in The Chronicles of Riddick, the Black Christmas remake and Tron Legacy. But as soon as I saw his face on IMDB and his Blade: Trinity credit I said, “I know that dude!”

He’s one of the “Nightstalkers” that teams up with Wesley Snipes for about five minutes before he gets killed. I think he gets one line and then gets taken out alongside Patton Oswalt. And his character is named Dex. And Oswalt’s character is named Hedges. That movie has the worst names.

There’s nothing I can say about Blade: Trinity that hasn’t been said on Now Playing Podcast, so please, if you like to laugh, take a listen to that show.

Crystal Lowe (Tiffany) Final Destination Retrospective, Fantastic Four Retrospective, Black Christmas Retrospective

This actress has done a few horror films, including Final Destination 3 and the Black Christmas remake; both covered by Now Playing Podcast.

But I wonder if she gets recognized most for her role as “Hot Party Girl No. 3” in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer? It’s been a while since I’ve seen the picture, but I’m sure she’s the best thing about it.

By the way, Lowe will have another Now Playing mention added to her profile when the show covers Insomnia as part of the upcoming Christopher Nolan Retrospective Series.

Troy Yorke (Jerry) Final Destination Retrospective

Yorke had an uncredited role in the first Final Destination. Nuff said.

Kyle Cassie (Armbrister)Lost Boys Retrospective

Hey, it’s the first Lost Boys mention in the Corn Connection series! Cassie played the character “Jon” in the direct-to-DVD sequel, Lost Boys: The Tribe.

Claudette Mink (Jamie)Philip K. Dick Retrospective

This actress had a role in John Woo’s Paycheck, another film featured in the Philip K. Dick retrospective.

So there you have it. A pretty impressive lineup of links to the Now Playing Podcast archives. I’m still excited that I found that guy from Blade 3. Seriously, that’s a show to listen to.

The Corn Connection is winding down, only two more entries left in the film series, which means two more trips to the corn for the Now Playing hosts. Get the next show Tuesday!

Did we miss anyone? If you spot an actor or actress with a connection to Now Playing Podcast leave a comment and help a fellow listener!

September 27, 2014 Posted by | Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Corn Connection: ‘Revelation’ boasts some of series’ best links

Hot Toys goes Solo, Han Solo, with the Star Wars license



Over the past six years Hot Toys has emerged as the superstar company for 12-inch highly articulated, collector-oriented action figures.

Their product lines in the past have ranged from Robocop to Predator to Terminator to even one-offs like Michael Jackson and Back to the Future.  But where they’ve really shown is with their Marvel Movie Masterpiece Series figures.  From Blade to Iron Man to Spider-Man to Ghost Rider, Hot Toys has amazed and astounded with their actor-accurate facial likenesses, the attention to detail, and the seemingly endless number of accessories, including interchangeable hands, feet, and heads, that come with their figures.  Even the boxes each figure come in is a work of art.

I have covered Hot Toys figures for three years on the Marvelicious Toys podcast, and own every single Marvel Movie Masterpiece figure they have done–the only 12-inch line I am ‘all in’ on.  Their quality and workmanship is unmatched.  I’ve often wondered why Sideshow’s 12-Inch Star Wars line could not match the quality of Hot Toys’ Marvel line.

Sideshow and Hot Toys did partner once in the past, for Sideshow’s 12-Inch Bespin Luke Skywalker figure.   But now Hot Toys has gotten the licence for their own lines of 1/6 scale and 1/4 scale Star Wars figures and collectibles.

Right out of the gate come not one but two sixth scale Movie Masterpiece Star Wars figures–Han Solo and Chewbacca.  Available individually or as a set, these two smugglers are ready to join your collection.

The Han Solo figure features

  • Interchangeable hair sculpt with headset
  • Newly developed body with over 30 points of articulation
  • Ten (10) pieces of interchangeable palms including:
    – One (1) pair of relaxed palms
    – One (1) pair of gloved relaxed palms
    – One (1) pair of partially clenched gloved palms
    – One (1) right palm for holding blaster
    – One (1) left palm for supporting blaster
    – One (1) right gloved palm for holding blaster
    – One (1) left gloved palm for supporting blaster
  • Each piece of head sculpt is specially hand-painted
  • Brown leather blaster holster belt
  • One (1) blaster pistol
  • One (1) droid caller
  • Specially designed figure stand with Han Solo nameplate and movie logo

Plus if you order the Sideshow Exclusive edition you also get a Stormtrooper belt and blaster rifle!

Chewbacca comes with:

  • Authentic and detailed likeness of Chewbacca in Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope
  • Brown fabric hair throughout whole body
  • Movie-accurate facial expression
  • Newly developed body with over 30 points of articulation
  • Approximately 36 cm tall
  • Two (2) pairs of interchangeable palms including:
    – One (1) pair of relaxed palms
    – One (1) pair of palms for holding bowcaster
  • One (1) bowcaster
  • One (1) brown bandolier bag
  • One (1) headset
  • Specially designed figure stand with Chewbacca nameplate and movie logo

902268-han-solo-and-chewbacca-001And if you order the pair together you get everything listed above (including the Stormtrooper belt and rifle) plus an additional accessory exclusive to the set–a heavy blaster for Chewbacca to wield.

Long time Sideshow sixth-scale figure collectors, there is no word yet on how the scale of Hot Toys’ figures will fit in with Sideshow’s long-running line.  As Sideshow uses their own figure bodies for most of their figures there is a chance these figures may look slightly taller or smaller than their Sideshow counterparts.  This is not an evolution of Sideshow’s figure line, but an entirely new sixth scale figure line from Hot Toys.

It is canny of Hot Toys to be out of the gate with Chewbacca–a figure Sideshow has long teased but never brought to market.

However, and this is ironic, the only authorized US seller of Hot Toys is Sideshow Collectibles.  As mentioned, I have purchased many Hot Toys figures, but as with any detailed piece  I have received a fair number of damaged and broken figures and accessories.  Hot Toys will not provide a warranty on any product purchased at an unauthorized reseller.  The one Hot Toys figure I purchased from a reseller other than Sideshow, Hot Toys would provide no repairs and the seller could not offer a repalcement.  If you are interested in the Hot Toys Star Wars line, my strong recommendation is you only purchase from Sideshow Collectibles, or risk having a damaged or broken piece with no recourse.

As for these figures, you can hear my first impressions on this Monday’s episode of the Star Wars Action News podcast!

In the meantime, head over to Sideshow’s site and check out these new figures.  If you order, please consider supporting our site and our podcasts by using our affiliate link!


September 24, 2014 Posted by | Comic Books, Movies, News, Star Wars | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Hot Toys goes Solo, Han Solo, with the Star Wars license

Incredible Hulk Season 1 Episode 11 – Earthquakes Happen

Hoping to access gamma-ray equipment, David poses as a scientist inspecting a nuclear research facility and becomes trapped in the complex when a devastating earthquake strikes.

In Disguise David flees McGee while Earthquakes Happen
Earthquakes Happen
Season: 1
Episode: 11
Air Date: May 19, 1978
Director: Harvey S. Laidman
Writer: Jim Tisdale, Migdia Chinea-Varela
David’s Alias: Ted Hammond
Dr. Robert Patterson
Hulk-Outs: 2
•  Crushed by a computer bank
during an earthquake
• Burning his hands on a pipe
while the reactor melts down

After last week’s inventive and original episode Life and Death, now we’re back to “Hulk Goes to the Movies!”  First we had Rocky, then Airport ’75, then Duel, and now it’s Earthquake!  Universal Studios owned the movie Earthquake, thus its scenes and general plot were both used liberally in this episode of Hulk.

We have establishing shots of Los Angeles, David (Bill Bixby) has made his way back home to California.  Here we get a rare instance of David performing a grift–he makes a phone call where he pretends to be Ted Hammond, head of the San Thomas Nuclear Research Facility.  He’s calling to delay a visit to the facility by Dr. Robert Patterson (and that’s Dr. Robert Patterson, not to be confused with Robert Pattinson Twi-hards…though I wonder how many hits this blog will get now that I’ve invoked the name of the unkempt one).

Visit delayed, David then impersonates Dr. Patterson.  He goes to great lengths in this, stopping by a local shop claiming to have been robbed and needing new photo identification.  With his fake credentials ready he heads to the San Thomas Nuclear Research Facility pretending to be Dr. Robert Patterson, who is an expert in structural stress analysis and atomic safety systems.

The facility is run by Ted Hammond, but was designed by Dr. Diane Joseph, and the two are at odds over the facility’s safety.  Ted ordered a safety review after he  discovered the lab was built on a fault line.  He thinks Diane is overconfident about the center’s ability to withstand an earthquake.

Of course, David isn’t interested in the nuclear reactor.  He has performed this entire con to gain access to the facility’s Gamma Lab, and we see a flashback to the pilot episode with Dr. Elaina Marks reminding the audience that radiation reversal may rid David of the Hulk (Lou Ferrigno) forever.  David hopes his access will give him a moment alone with their gamma machine.

David arrives at the lab we see National Register reporter Jack McGee (Jack Colvin) is there already.  For once Jack isn’t hunting the Hulk, but instead pursuing a story that there is an impending earthquake and the lab is unsafe.   McGee is accusing the lab of running on a skeleton crew to minimize casualties if the reactor goes nuclear.  When David, posing as the safety inspector, arrives McGee tries to chase the supposed safety inspector down for an interview.  It’s another moment of a close call between David and Jack, but David hustles into the lab, his back always to the reporter.

Once at the lab we finally see a hole in David’s scientific knowledge–he’s not up on his structural safety techniques.  He is being guided by Diane, who quickly becomes suspicious when she realizes he’s not doing the study correctly and not answering questions properly.

And David certainly is acting desperate.  His interest in getting to Level 4, which houses the gamma lab, is a bit too obvious.  The moment he’s left alone he tries to use an axe to open a locked door.  When he sees others coming through the other way, he slides a broom (in an awesome broom-cam shot) to prevent the door from closing and makes his way to the lab.

But due to her suspicions, Diane has Patterson’s dossier pulled and finds what she needs–due to an artificial knee Dr. Patterson walks with a cane.  David had no cane, and so they know he’s an impostor.  She alerts lab owner Ted Hammond, and they go to have him arrested, but it’s too late–David has already powered on the gamma lab.

In doing so, David fired up the lab’s nuclear reactor.  He places a chair underneath some ominous looking piece of equipment, preparing to irradiate himself with gamma rays yet again.  It’s a wonderfully ominous scene, aided by the music from his experiments in the pilot.  I was engaged, even though I recognized the silliness of David so quickly gaining access to a gamma gun and immediately ready to shoot himself with it.

Diane finds David and stops the gamma gun from firing with just three seconds to go, and before they can argue any more an earthquake hits.  Footage of massive destruction to Los Angeles landmarks, as seen originally in Earthquake, is shown while the set upon which David and Diane stand shakes.  David tries to get Diane to safety, and a refrigerator-sized computer bank falls upon David.

In the chaos, the gun switches modes from gamma to laser, and a blue laser starts shooting randomly at the ground.  Because, of course, all radiation machines also can weaponize to shoot lasers.  Despite how unlikely the situation, the lasers shoot repeatedly, starting fire and threatening the life of the unconscious Diane.  David cannot get to her to help her, so we have

Hulk-Out #1:  The green glow is back, and we see David’s clothes rip underneath the computer bank.  Then Hulk is there, quickly ripping the gamma/laser machine from the ceiling, and carrying Diane to safety.

Outside the radiation chamber the other center workers react to the danger, some shaken and frozen with fear, others doing their job to try and mitigate the damage to the reactor.  Some workers call to the gamma lab, and Hulk rips the phone and speaker from the wall, right before peeling back the lead door to the lab so he can escape.  But moans from the injured Diane call Hulk back and, taking her hand, he is calmed and the reverse transformation happens.

Again we see the green glow cover Hulk’s body, and a close-up of Bixby in fake eyebrows.  They’re starting to get better at the reverse transformation, and I’m starting to be used to the silly green glow, but I am also comforted in the knowledge that it improves and I won’t have to see it 80 more times.

David quickly dons a lab coat to cover himself and puts his shoes back on.  I’m confused how turning into the Hulk would have his shoes pop off unharmed and not split, but I guess we don’t need a Die Hard situation with barefoot David searching a demolished, glass strewn lab for shoes.

Things go from bad to worse when Ted discovers the nuclear reactor is running, started by David when he fired up the gamma machine.  The turn-offs and emergency shutdown are not working and the cooling units are overheating.  The secondary cooling unit is running, but if it stops there will be a nuclear meltdown!

David and Diane are trapped with Ted, lab worker Turner, and security guard Paul.  Paul’s leg broke during the earthquake, and the five are trapped in the gamma lab due to steam from the reactor blocking their exit.  Carrying Paul, they climb through a corridor full of high voltage wires to make an escape.

As the group make their way to safety, the secondary cooler goes out.  The reactor is going to meltdown, and all personnel are to evacuate.

Much like in Earthquake, the group of survivors trapped in the corridor begin in-fighting, with petrified Turner wanting to attack David for being the one who caused this whole mess.  But David’s medical knowledge plus his being an able-bodied person have Diane and Ted  feeling they need him to escape and the authorities can deal with him after.

In the control room the remaining workers are trying to turn on the emergency valve to cool the reactor.  Without the valve opening, the facility has less than five minutes until meltdown, but the motor for the valve has jammed.  Those above ground can escape, but David’s group is trapped.

There’s a scene of the lab workers above ground arguing about escape, with one saying “there may be people alive down there” and the pragmatist replying “but only for three more minutes!”  The scene is unintentionally humorous due to the cliched nature of the conversation, but it serves to drive home the danger David is facing.

But David isn’t willing to give up.  The group tries to open the valve manually.  It opens some, but the heat from the reactor causes the corridor to flood with steam.  Turner and Ted flee back to the group, while David stays to try and turn the valve.

The pipe burns his hands, so he takes off his shirt to touch the pipe, and I know this means one less torn shirt as we hear the transformation sound.

Hulk-Out #2:  We see no transformation here, but Hulk is there and opens the valve, averting the nuclear meltdown and saving the city.  Then, needing an escape, Hulk punches through a thick cement wall to get away from the steam.  He runs out the corridor to the outside and off into the city.

In the end, McGee questions the scientists about the fake Dr. Patterson, and Ted says he saved them all but may have been killed in the steam of the tunnel.

But David was not killed, he dons a long black coat and tries to hitch a ride to the next nuclear lab as The Lonely Man theme plays on.

This episode is rather rote.  While capitalizing on the disaster movie craze of the 70s it strains credibility to set up the chain of events that can lead to a nuclear meltdown.  I will say the footage from Earthquake! is used to good effect.  Unlike Never Give a Trucker an Even Break, Earthquakes Happen uses the footage to up their production values and create tension, while not aping them for climactic plot points.  While the entire premise of a group of bickering individuals trying to escape a building after an earthquake is the general premise of Earthquake!, this doesn’t feel as plagiarized as the previous episode.

By the same token, Hulk doesn’t really fit in this episode.  While David and his quest for a cure creates the entire series of events, the Hulk-outs are sparse.  Plus, knowing the Hulk can solve any problem through strength, there’s no real sense of danger.  When David can’t turn the valve, it’s an eye-rolling “okay, Hulk, open the valve”.  This, of course, is the case with all Hulk episodes, but if the set-up and action is entertaining I go with it.  As depicted in this episode, I simply don’t think an earthquake is an exciting enough situation for the Hulk to be in.  I honestly found the scenes of David performing his con and trying to break into the lab far more exciting than what happens after the earthquake.

It’s a perfectly average episode, and I like this series so average is pretty good.  This episode gets a weak recommend.

Read my other Incredible Hulk Series Reviews



March 8, 2012 Posted by | Comic Books, Movies, Reviews, Television, The Incredible Hulk TV Series Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Blade: The Series – Post Mortem

Krista feat. Blade

Krista feat. Blade

As listeners to the Now Playing podcast know, I am a fan of all three Blade films.  Having the vampire hunter’s adventures continue on a weekly basis was an appealing proposition.  However, I never tuned in during Blade: The Series’ inital run because Spike TV was a cable station best known for lowbrow T&A programming like Manswers and Stripperella.  I ended up buying Blade: The Series for $8 at a closing Suncoast Video.  I knew the series had been cancelled, but wondered what adventures the writers had given the daywalker in his short TV life.  It took Now Playing’s Blade retrospective series for me to finally pull the shrink-wrap off my box set–and I wish I hadn’t.

I was surprised that Blade ended up being a serialized drama series.  I had expected it to be episodic like The Incredible Hulk or The A-Team, with each show pitting Blade against a new nest of “suckheads”.  In previous reviews I compared this series to Angel and Buffy and those were obvious, but smart, models for Executive Producer David Goyer to emulate.  I think it was the right choice to introduce a strong supporting cast of heroes and villains.

But this cast of new characters was not supporting — they were the focus of the series!  This seems to be a Goyer’s trademark, as Blade II and Blade: Trinity also sidelined the daywalker to showcase second stringers.  I thought a series titled Blade would star a character named “Blade”!  But this show would be better off entitled Krista or, were it a hip-hop song, Krista feat. Blade.  He’s just using a brand name to sell Krista’s story, much like Frank Mancuso Jr. did with Friday The 13th: The Series.  As a fan of Blade the character, this series is not what I wanted.  I was blindsided by the House of Chthon drama.  I imagine most Blade fans agree.

I will admit there was some Blade backstory shoehorned into this thing, sometimes more successfully done than others.  Perhaps the plan was to drip little bits of Blade’s arc into a season, but that seems like a mistake.  They scored a major casting coup by getting Richard Roundtree as Blade’s father, but he’s the one given the shaft after five minutes of screentime.

Try as I might, I never could get into Marcus’ conspiracy.   I’ve seen this type of story told better a thousand times.  Trying to make this series as much about a crime family of vampires as about the hunter was a misstep–and from what I can tell a misstep that Goyer never planned to correct.

I fully expected Marcus and the House of Chthon to comprise the entire Season 1 plot, but figured Blade would vanquish them in time to do something new in Season Two.  There are eleven other Houses to explore after all.  But no, Marcus and Chase were still out there to cause problems by season’s end.  Instead of following the Buffy formula, they tried to be Lost.  Well, they did lose!

Kirk "Sticky Fingaz" Jones

Jones didn't "Stick" as Blade

Admittedly, it would have been harder to make Krista an integral part of the plot had the enemy changed.  The show that began with Krista’s brother murdered in cold blood by Marcus, and her conflicting loyalties became the centerpiece of all storylines.  Too bad they trivialized her motivations for revenge with daytime soap opera storylines which had her screwing and possibly falling for the man guilty of the crime she wants to avenge.  If the creators were going to sideline Blade for other characters, they needed to be likable and strong.  Krista does not fill that bill, and while I have been (deservedly) harsh on Jill Wagner’s performance the writers did the character no favors.

I do hold these writers most responsible for the series’ many failings.  They seemed unable to pace the plots.  Characters like Detective Boone and FBI Agent Collins were given lengthy introductions but never get any payoff.  The way these characters were dropped is inexplicable, and frankly embarrassing.

The damning blow was the finale.  Ending on a cliff-hanger where Marcus reveals knowledge of Krista’s betrayal, I should have been incensed that I would never know more.  I think back to other cancelled shows that concluded with cliffhangers – Twin Peaks, The Dead Zone, Lois and Clark, and even Sledge Hammer.   In each of those cases I was furious at the unresolved plots.  I even called ABC executives at 11 p.m. on a Sunday night begging for more Twin Peaks.  With Blade: The Series I didn’t care.  I really didn’t want to see more of Marcus, and I certainly didn’t ever want Krista again.

Series writer Geoff Johns stated in a letter to Wizard Magazine that Blade: The Series was cancelled due to high production costs, not low ratings.  Indeed, Blade’s premiere episode was the most-watched episode in Spike TV’s history.  But those 2.5 million viewers had dwindled to less than 1 million by the time the season finale aired.  I envy those that turned it off.  Truth be told, had Blade been renewed for a second season I wouldn’t have watched.

This show was desperately in need of a (pardon the pun) revamp that curtailed the House of Chthon and brought Blade and his partners to the fore.  It was what worked in the best episode —Hunters, a mostly Krista-free hour where Blade and Shen got a chance to shine pursuing a tough and frightening vampire they vanquished by the end.

So my final advice is to skip Blade: The Series.  While television might have been the right place for the character to nest, this series did not deliver.  Hunters was light enough on the overarching stories that I can recommend that single episode for fans of Blade.  The rest of it deserves to be ashed.  Maybe the upcoming Blade anime series will give our daywalker a proper TV home?

Verdict:  Not Recommend

September 14, 2011 Posted by | Blade - The TV Series, Comic Books, Reviews, Television | , , , | Comments Off on Blade: The Series – Post Mortem

Blade: The Series – Season 1, Episode 12: Conclave

Original Air Date: September 13, 2006
Director: Alex Chapple

Warning: the following review contains spoilers for this and the previous episodes of Blade: The Series  You can watch this episode free at

House of Chthon Conclave

This is the conclave Marcus has worked for years to sabotage? Five vampires? I thought it would be hundreds. Did he really have to work so hard to just kill five vampires? Couldn't he have just done that by hand?

Here we are at the season finale (and unwilling series finale) of Blade: The Series–an episode entitled Conclave.

While this is the culmination of everything Blade: The Series has done, or ever will do, I will review it individually as I have all the other episodes.  If you want my overall “final thoughts” on the series, come back tomorrow.

In Conclave, after a dozen hours of show, the stage is set for Marcus’ attack on the purebloods.  Unlike all the past episodes of the series, Conclave doesn’t have an A-story, B-story, and a C-story. There is just the one final arc to quite literally bring down the House.

Despite the insane deadlines and his protests last episode, architect extraordinaire Tucker (Tom Butler) met every demand put on him by House of Chthon conclave organizer Marcus Van Sciver (Neil Jackson).  The Aurora virus, which will kill only pureblood vampires, is ready.   Marcus, in preparation for being the first turned vampire to head the House of Chthon, is trying to forge peace between his right-hand vampire Chase (Jessica Gower) and his new vampire lover Krista Starr (Jill Wagner).  Marcus envisions a time soon where the three can rule in harmony when his plot, and the pureblood vampires, are executed.

As mentioned last episode, Blade (Kirk “Sticky Fingaz” Jones) doesn’t want to stop Marcus.  Marcus and Blade share a goal–kill vampires.  Despite that, Blade is obsessed with attending the conclave.  Blade’s partner Shen (Nelson Lee) tries to dissuade the daywalker from interfering, to which Blade responds, “Seeing is believing.”  While the mindset is consistent with Blade’s character, it feels like a lazy way for the writers to put Blade in the thick of action again without justifying the stakes.

However, Marcus must have read the script, as he sends Chase to ambush Blade’s lair.  Krista, despite her recent romantic feelings towards Marcus, fulfills her duty as Blade’s spy and warns him of the coming attack– only she’s too late.  Shen is captured and, in a scene reminiscent of Blade: Trinity, Blade sets off explosives hidden throughout his lair.  Most of Marcus’ troops are killed in the blast, though none with speaking parts.

Shen in Sunlight

Every character gets their moment in the light this episode.

Marcus and Chase presume Blade was also killed in the blast, but decide to pump Shen for information anyway.  Marcus, knowing of her experience in the Iraq War, asks Krista to do the torturing of Shen.  Krista tries to stall but eventually must apply a scalpel under Shen’s fingernails.  “I’m sorry”, but I feel like the one being tortured with this painful sight.

Wagner’s performance actually works for this scene – showing different emotions depending on who she’s facing.  We see her inner pain, while she pretends to be playful about it for Marcus.  That said, Wagner’s acting range for 11 episodes has never stretched farther than angst and so her Playboy Bunny of Death routinue doesn’t feel genuine.

Krista slips Shen the scalpel while breaking his finger, and later when he’s left alone the man is able to cut his bonds and begins his escape. Shen picks up a sword, then instead opts to arm himself with a pen (a “pen is mightier than the sword” visual gag?  Seriously?!)  He writes the guard a note and then takes him in hand combat after a tough battle that leaves him pretty bloody.  I kept wondering why Shen didn’t keep the sword and save himself a beating.  Shen opens the room’s window blinds and dusts the bodyguard, and again I wonder why he didn’t do this before hand combat.  Shen’s the brains of the operation, but he’s not showing that here.

Tucker Sex Scene

I really never wanted to see the father from Freddy vs. Jason have a sex scene. But now that I've seen it, it's burned in my mind.

Meanwhile Blade somehow deduces the Marcus’ association with the architect Tucker, shows up at his office, and finds the man about to get his groove on with a hot, naked, ready and willing Familiar that Marcus sent him as a thank-you.  It’s a sight I found even more repulsive than Shen’s fingernail torture, and was glad to see Blade interrupt by staking the woman to the desk and cutting out one of Tucker’s eyes.  He’ll use the severed eyeball to the retinal scanners at the conclave.

I have to pause and wonder why this scene was put in the episode.  Sure, another gratuitous titty shot may be appealing to Spike TV’s barely post-pubescent, testosterone filled base, but seeing the father from Freddy vs Jason ready to take the woman from behind was truly repugnant.  More, he pauses to get a condom, saying Tucker has “passed around” this woman.  Is this supposed to be a safe sex message, alerting viewers to be aware of diseased skanks?  Is it just another moment of raunch?  Misogyny perhaps?  I am dumbfounded.  But I’ve already spent more time on Tucker than Blade did, so we move on…

The episode moves to Toronto, where the House of Chthon Pureblood Council awaits Marcus’ presentation.  The purebloods have long, self-important speeches explaining how they manipulate tragedies, like the dropping of the H-bomb in Nagasaki, to their benefit.  Why is this relevant?  It’s not–the screenwriters are just stalling while Blade and Shen reunite and break into the complex.

The episode shows its foolishness when the two vampire killers use Tucker’s eyeball to bypass the retinal scanners and gain entrance to the building.  The eyeball is preserved in liquid that makes it revolve in the bottle.  Yet somehow the door opens with the retina facing the wrong way from the scanner.

The delays continue as Marcus gives a grand speech to the purebloods and reveals to them that Aurora never worked.  Huh?  Instead of being sneaky and poisoning the unsuspecting purebloods, he’s just going to stand there and announce his betrayal?  I fully expected this idiocy to be Marcus’ downfall, but the joke was on me.

The effects of Aurora

Aurora isn't pretty, but it is pretty gory for television.

It’s revealed that Chase was a triple agent who’s really aligned with Charlotte and the House of Chthon against Marcus.  The special air vents meant to deliver the Aurora poison were shut down, and replaced with a poison to choke Marcus (making me wonder why that wouldn’t also harm vampires.  Who doesn’t need to breathe?).

Suddenly, Blade barges in.  He throws the vial of Aurora into the air and shoots it while delivering the lame one-liner “Can’t have the party without the keg”.  The purebloods begin to writhe and melt away.  The effects are full of blood and prosthetics – one of the best, most horrific, visuals of the series.

That only leaves our final showdown a dozen episodes in the making — Blade versus Marcus.  Blade states the obvious: “I should have let them kill you” as the two engage in some swordplay and wire-fu.  While not even on par with Stephen Dorff’s blade-work from the original film, this stands as the best fight in the whole series.

Meanwhile Chase and Krista go at it in a series of spins and martial arts kicks.  Compared to the Blade/Marcus fight, this battle falls short.  Generic lines such as “Who belongs to who now bitch?” are given flat delivery, the editing is rapid to hide the actresses’ inability to fight, and often the characters’ faces are blocked by wigs and posts to hide the stunt doubles.  In the end, this entire secondary fight comes off like a commercial for Axe body spray, with two girls fighting over Marcus.

Chase and Krista's final fight

Chase and Krista fight...or discuss Krista's Minolo Blahniks, I'm not really sure.

The fight ends as Chase is thrown down a huge staircase, and the show’s limited budget again reveals itself–the fall looks like the same effect used in 1989’s Batman Jack Nicholson death.  Of course a fall is not enough to kill a vampire, but Krista doesn’t follow up with the death blow and returns to Marcus and Blade’s fight instead.

Shockingly, Blade and Marcus are evenly matched, despite the vampire never really seeming like a fighter.  Jackson sells us on Marcus’ physicality, and the wire-fu may be the best I’ve ever seen on television.  Unsurprisingly, Blade finally gets the upper hand and goes to deliver the killing blow–when he is stopped by Krista!  The distraction allows Marcus to get Blade down.  Shen enters, shoots Krista in the back, and Blade uses the distraction to dodge Marcus’ attack.

Krista and Marcus flee.  Alone in the conclave, Shen inexplicably chooses this exact post-fight moment for a heart-to-heart.  The sidekick claims the fight wasn’t worth it because they ultimately aided Marucus in his insurrection for the House of Chthon.  Blade feels that the death of five purebloods, and Krista’s cover kept, is a win.  That dubious proclamation ends Kirk “Sticky Fingaz” Jones’ run as Blade.

As for Krista and Marcus, they escape back to Detroit and hide out in Blade’s abandoned lair.  Marcus believes Aurora will allow him to rule Chthon, though he believes Chase will come for vengeance.  He states: “Even if I watch her ash I’d still watch my back for the rest of my years on Earth”.  Wish I knew that a few episodes ago!

Blade vs Marcus

Blade and Marcus' final fight takes the show to new heights.

Krista has one remaining question: how did Marcus know the location of Blade’s compound.  The vampire reveals his full hand–he intercepted Krista’s phone call to Blade and knows she’s a double agent.  Fangs out, Marcus grabs her face and says: “How long have you been working for Blade?” as the screen cuts to black.  It’s a cliffhanger never to be resolved.

This episode had all the hallmarks of the Blade series–gratuitous nudity, innane character decisions, and lots of action (of varying quality).  In contrast to previous episodes, however, the Aurora plot finally moved forward considerably, though not in a satisfying manner.  I was left shaking my head at so many stupid character moments courtesy of Blade, Shen, and Marcus.  In Blade: Trinity a Familiar asks Blade “Why aren’t you smarter” – a line that kept running through my head this entire episode.  Even Shen and Chase, my two favorite characters of the series, make dumb choices in their moments in the spotlight.

Marcus confronts Krista

The final shot of the series--Marcus knows of Krista's betrayal. Will he kill her? The world will never know. Or care.

The quality and quantity of fight scenes in this episode made it my second favorite of the series after Hunters.  Taken on its own, this was a satisfying episode full of action and excitement.  But as a season/series finale it feels lackluster.  It felt like we were building to something big, but all that’s here are five dead purebloods.  I expected more.

As for the series as a whole?  Tomorrow on Stuart, Jakob, and I finish our Blade movie reviews as we look at Blade: Trinity.  Take a listen tomorrow afternoon, then come back here for my final thoughts on Blade: The Series.

You can hear Arnie, Jakob, and Stuart review all the Blade films on the Now Playing podcast!

Read Arnie’s other Blade TV Series reviews:

1 Pilot
2 Death Goes On
3 Descent
4 Bloodlines
5 The Evil Within
6 Delivery
7 Sacrifice
8 Turn of the Screw
9 Angels and Demons
10 Hunters
11 Monsters
12 Conclave


September 12, 2011 Posted by | Blade - The TV Series, Comic Books, Reviews, Television | , , , | Comments Off on Blade: The Series – Season 1, Episode 12: Conclave

Blade: The Series – Season 1, Episode 11: Monsters

Original Air Date: September 6, 2006
Director: Ken Girotti

Warning: the following review contains spoilers for this and the previous episodes of Blade: The Series  You can watch this episode free at

Charlotte and Thorne

Blade gets trapped in Charlotte's web.

When the TV series Lost was approaching its series finale, my wife and I would watch every episode faithfully and then discuss our thoughts on that episode with each other.  On the second-to-last episode my wife expressed disappointment in the episode; how so little happened and it seemed like filler.

Unfortunately that is a pattern I have found with lots of action and sci-fi television series.  When leading up to a climactic episode (usually during sweeps, often a season or series finale) there is far too often an episode that merely exists to set everything up, so that the final episode may be almost entirely devoted to the showdown.  All the pieces must be in place when we ramp into the final episode.

The problem with such episodes is they’re often extraordinarily dull.  The story arcs have been leading to this point for a season or more, so an entire episode just to remind us of what we loyal viewers already know comes off as filler and, worse, as poor writing.

There are also financial concerns to consider..  Series producers want their shows to go out with a bang, and leave the audience wanting more.  In television series the cost-per-episode is not consistent–sometimes they cheap out on one episode so they can spend more on the next, and these set-up episodes almost always feel like they were purchased at a Dollar General.

Which leads me to Monsters, the second-to-last ever episode of Blade the TV series….

I really had hoped for another standalone plot after previous episode Hunters, but I didn’t really expect it.  With only two hours left I figured we’d return to the uprising of vampire Marcus Van Sciver (Neil Jackson) in the House of Chthon, and the rogue vampire Boone (Bill Mondy) coming to take revenge on Marcus.

Blade and Collins

After a season of searching, Collins and Blade finally team up to hunt vampires.

In some ways, that is what we get.  Our A-story starts off with House of Chthon elder Charlotte (Emily Hirst) and her goon Thorne (John DeSantis who played Lurch on The New Addams Family) flying back home.  Marcus’ aide Chase (Jessica Gower) had pretended to dish on her employer and given Charlotte the hilt to Blade’s sword.  However, hidden inside the handle was an explosive, which sends Charlotte’s airplane crashing to the ground when it detonates.  It’s presumed by all that everyone was killed on impact, but Charlotte and Thorne emerge from the wreckage and slaughter a small town to obtain the blood they need to heal their injuries.  How did they survive the crash in the first place?  The writers speak through Blade when he mutters “doesn’t matter.”  They just needed to get the plot set up!

News of the plane crash forces Blade to seek help from his new partner…FBI Agent Ray Collins (Larry Poindexter)!  It turned out the reason the coroner reappered a couple episodes back was merely to tip Collins off that Blade was somewhere in Detroit.  Based on that information, Collins walks right into Blade’s lair.  Through his FBI connections Collins is able to find out where the plane went down.  Blade doesn’t think Charlotte survived, but wonders if any records on the location of the House of Chthon conclave may have survived the crash.

Of course, this is a bit of a paradox.  Collins came to Blade wanting to stop Marcus, but Blade says he and Marcus have the same goals–death to vampires.  With the enemy of Blade’s enemy being Blade’s friend, Blade wants to let Marcus finish his plot..and yet Blade seems intent on knowing every detail.  But maybe that will be explained next episode?

Airplane Crash

Throw some burning cardboard around and pretend it's a crashed airplane. Isn't that what Lost did? No? Okay then.

But in this episode, what we get for the next hour are Blade and Collins searching the crash and following the trail of Charlotte and Thorne to a local school, all the while swapping war stories.  For a laconic hero, Blade is pretty forthcoming to Collins–both about methods to kill vampires and about Shen’s (Nelson Lee) backstory.  This gives me another peak into my favorite supporting character.  It turns out Shen is hunting a couple of vampires (presumably the ones who took his sister).  Shen’s agreement with Blade is when Blade finds the vampires, Shen gets the honor of killing them.

In response, Collins shares his backstory–he caught a serial killer, but an improperly executed warrant allowed him to go free and murder Collins wife and daughter.  Collins went rogue, executing the killer before he could have a second trial.  Since then he has used “unorthodox methods” to stop criminals.

It seems like Blade and Collins have a partnership made in vampire heaven, and the two work together in the school killing vampire townies in some lackluster fights.  Seeing the vampire hunters’ success, Charlotte traps Collins by pretending to be a scared child.  Perhaps due to the death of his own daughter, Collins falls for it and Charlotte bites him.

Blade and Thorne have the best fight in the episode (which isn’t saying much).  After dusting Thorne, Blade goes to confront Charlotte, who makes Blade the same offer Deacon Frost did in the first movie–join us, work with us.  Blade responds with his glaive and dusts Charlotte.

Charlotte's Death

Charlotte's death is a bright spot in this episode.

That is the first of two lackluster deaths.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m very glad to see Charlotte go.  The character had promise, but the actress ruined it for me.  Every word she uttered thudded to the ground, and I’ve commented on it in each review where she appeared, so I will not linger on this topic.  I just hope I never have to see actress Emily Hirst in anything again.  However, it was an anticlimactic death for a character built up as a supposedly powerful foil for Marcus.

But that is nothing compared to what comes next.

Blade is reluctant to stake his new partner after bonding on the hunt, but Collins knows it’s necessary.  So Blade dusts the former agent.  Talk about an aborted plotline!  For ten hours I’ve watched Collins hunt rogue cop/vampire Boone across the country.  Now Collins is killed so arbitrarily in a school?  How can the show not give me a Collins/Boone showdown?  How can we not get the “you’ve been looking for me, here I am” moment?  But no, Collins is killed for no reason, accomplishing nothing in this series.  What a freaking waste of my time, and of a character.

Now Collins did lead Blade to recover items from the plane wreckage Shen is able to track to the conclave in Toronto, but that does not justify the length of this character’s arc.  It’s as purposeful as the easily-forgotten coroner telling Collins about Blade.  Finding the plane is a job for any minor character, not one who’s story we’ve followed the whole season.

This is poor, poor writing, and it angers me greatly.  Now maybe the writers aren’t entirely to blame–many things influence television show evolution, including actor contracts, reduced episode orders, and so on.  But given Blade only lasted one season I cannot imagine any of that happening here.  That the Boone/Collins storyline arced over the whole season and ended this way is just frustrating.  If this is the way the show would have continued, I am glad it was not renewed after this season.

As for our B-plot, following Blade’s House of Chthon undercover spy Krista Starr (Jill Wagner) and Marcus’ plan to kill all the Chthon purebloods, very little happens.  We see Krista and Marcus having some loving moments, and Krista is torn between her attraction to the kind, gentle Marcus with whom she makes love, and her disgust for the vampiric, violent Marcus who ruthlessly kills without remorse.  This is, of course, setting up suspense for the finale where Krista must surely choose sides once and for all.

Chase and Krista

I don't know if Chase is going to kiss Krista or kill her. I'd be up for watching either.

Meanwhile, Chase is becoming more jealous of Krista’s place at Marcus’ side and in Marcus’ bed–a jealousy fueled when Marcus gives Krista a locket once owned by his human wife.  There is a slightly erotic scene where I wasn’t sure if Chase was threatening Krista or hitting on her.  Chase stands close to Krista and kisses her on the lips, but also talks about how Chase sees Krista as “a hollow little girl playing hollow little games”.

And as for Marcus?  When he’s not enjoying a romp with Krista, he’s killing his familiar contractors.  Marcus demands a special air handling system be put in place but his favorite architect Tucker (Freddy vs. Jason‘s Tom Butler) threatens to quit if Marcus doesn’t scale back.  Marcus, realizing Tucker is too valuable to kill, threatens everyone Tucker knows if the work is not done.  Of course, Tucker acquiesces.  And the air system?  My guess is it’s the delivery mechanism for the Aurora virus that will kill the purebloods.  I wish the show would have kept its hand a little more hidden.

Blade meditates

Blade is ready for the final fight, and so am I!

As I said above, this episode is getting the pieces in place for the showdown; it’s unfortunate they had to spend a full episode of the series doing so.

But we end this episode with Blade meditating, then vamping out and roaring for no apparent reason, I hope it’s because the finale is coming, and Blade and Shen get to kick some ass.

You can hear Arnie, Jakob, and Stuart review all the Blade films on the Now Playing podcast!

Read Arnie’s other Blade TV Series reviews:

1 Pilot
2 Death Goes On
3 Descent
4 Bloodlines
5 The Evil Within
6 Delivery
7 Sacrifice
8 Turn of the Screw
9 Angels and Demons
10 Hunters
11 Monsters
12 Conclave


September 11, 2011 Posted by | Blade - The TV Series, Comic Books, Reviews, Television | , , , | Comments Off on Blade: The Series – Season 1, Episode 11: Monsters

Blade: The Series – Season 1, Episode 10: Hunters

Original Air Date: August 30, 2006
Director: Brad Turner

Warning: the following review contains spoilers for this and the previous episodes of Blade: The Series  You can watch this episode free at

Episode Ten opens in a nightclub, and immediately I’m reminded of the original Blade movie (sure they played New Order and this show can only afford heavy metal music in the public domain, but the comparison is still welcome).   Is this a vampire club?  Will Blade (Kirk “Sticky Fingaz” Jones) come in and ash everyone here?

Serial killer The White Prince

The White Prince - a killer plot that will hook you!

Party girl Jennifer is slipped a rufie and wakes up handcuffed in a dingy basement.  She’s the latest prisoner of The White Prince (Scott Heindl) – a vampire not connected with any of the Houses we’ve seen and has spent centuries feeding on and brutally torturing women.   Like we’re told he cuts open their stomach and dances on their intestines (sadly visions of the guy tilting his head back and doing the Snoopy Dance on a pile of guts are left strictly to our imaginations).  His face scarred from self-inflicted wounds, White Prince dons a poorly sewn mask (think Platinum Dunes Leatherface crossed with the David Cronenberg in Nightbreed) and films himself extracting all of Jennifer’s teeth.

Yes, coming completely out of left field is a stand-alone murder mystery episode that actually plays thing like a straight up horror tale – a rarity for Blade given how often it features action vampire over scary vampire.   And by breaking from the serialized storylines the show now gives new viewers a chance to get hooked.  I cannot imagine flipping through the channels, stumbling upon an episode like last week’s Angels and Demons, and being captivated by the multitude of new characters in a 19th century setting (and Blade himself relegated to a walk-on).  But Hunters is an ideal introduction for viewers late to the Blade series.  It certainly would make my Must-See TV schedule from this point forward (though admittedly we’re catching it two episodes from cancellation).

Another girl named Nicki goes missing, and concerned friend Daniel asks Shen (Nelson Lee) to take the case.  Shen, writing Nicki off as dead, initially refuses until Daniel accuses Shen of being Blade’s lackey who wasn’t so blase when his own sister was in danger.  It’s satisfying to get some character development for this sardonic co-star, and I’m happy to see Shen taking the spotlight this time.  It’s inferred that Shen came to hate vampires after his sister was…bitten? Killed? Abducted?  A thread for a future episode which may never come.

But this is Shen’s case now, with Blade, always up for killing vampires – playing second string.  There’s a great exchange between the two:

A victim of The White Prince

Classic horror cliches are used well here as Blade fights the vampire version of Buffalo Bill.

Shen:  You don’t think she’s alive do you?
Blade:  No
Shen:  Do you hope she is? Do you care?
Blade:  You do that for me

This sets up a good dynamic, showing that Shen is Blade’s conscience as well as his weapons maker.  Perhaps even more important, Blade knows it.

This story continues with some red herrings as Shen and Blade try to find out the identity of the White Prince’s Familiar, whom the men amusingly refer to as “a Renfield” (a nice callback to the original Familiar).  Blade and Shen use Nicki’s sister Bethany as bait, and she’s abducted by bartender Kurt (Dominic Zamprogna) to become the White Prince’s next victim.

I like The White Prince as a concept, but I’m lukewarm on the execution.  How quaint that he uses VHS to videotapes himself torturing the victims.  Sure, age-old vampires may not be up on the latest digital technology but you’d think in 2006 mini-CD or digital would be preferable!  His look worked for me at times.  He wore a stylized coat that actually allowed him to camouflage himself against the wall, and the mask was creepy.  That said, I was disappointed when the eventual unmasking comes.


This episode is Shen's chance to shine.

Masks really should serve one of three purposes in horror — 1) hide a killer’s identity so when the killer is revealed we have a shock (Scream); 2) hide something so grotesque we are revolted when we see it (Friday the 13th); 3) be spooky enough on its own that we are terrified (Leatherface).  There should also be an in-story reason for a character to wear a mask, such as trying to hide their own identity, or a psychological defect where the mask allows disassociation of the person from their acts (Michael Myers).

The mask had me guessing the entire episode.  While all signs pointed to the wearer being the White Prince vampire, I started wondering if perhaps it was a human serial killer emulating a famous vampire.  After all, why would a vampire torture rather than feed?  Maybe it’s Detective Boone (Bill Mondy), who is constantly hunted but we haven’t seen since the fifth episode?  Or maybe it’s a minor character from the House of Chthon?  Will it be someone from Blade’s past, or perhaps Shen’s?  Maybe even Shen’s sister?

Nope.. it’s just a vampire with a hang-up over self-inflicted scars.  Wow, what a let-down from what could have been a killer unmasking scene (pun fully intended)!  Blade unmasks and fights the White Prince, ripping the killer’s jaw off before dusting him.

Meanwhile, Shen keeps his focus on rescuing the girls, but is ambushed by Kurt.  This gives Shen a chance to shine in some hand-to-hand combat, and for me to actually be shocked when Shen is not content to just hand Kurt over to authorities after defeating him.  Instead Shen buries a straight razor in Kurt’s stomach and the way it comes off does not play as self-defense but murder.  A wonderfully ironic ending — Kurt helped the Prince so he could be immortal and instead died young.

The White Prince's Death

Hunters features some jaw-droppingly bad CGI.

Is the show posing a moral question here, or are we just to take Shen’s killing of Kurt the same way we do Blade dusting the White Prince?  This feels different for some reason, perhaps because Kurt leaves a corpse rather than flaming out in a fake-looking CGI shot.

But all told, it was a satisfying story that focused on our heroes for a change, rather than the villains in the House of Chthon.  A welcome change of pace that becomes only the second episode in the series that I would rate as “good”, and which usurps Sacrifice as my favorite episode of the series.

Hunters does include a few ongoing subplots for long-time viewers, with a B-story involving Krista (Jill Wagner) in detox after her feeding frenzy and copulation with House of Chthon power-player Marcus Van Sciver (Neil Jackson).  Krista has fully rejected Blade’s serum and goes out on the hunt.  Blade quickly captures her, force-injects serum, and makes it clear Krista will get over her bloodlust and return to his side of the war on vampires or Blade will dust her.  There are several scenes of her fighting to get out, eventually breaking down the metal door that contains her and… stays put.  When Shen and Blade return at the very end of the episode, Krista has conquered her bloodlust and is ready to be Blade’s spy in the House of Chthon again.

And speaking of Chthon, in our C level story House elder Charlotte (Emily Hirst) is coaxing Chase (Jessica Gower) to reveal Marcus’ plans.  Of course we know Chase is siding with Marcus against the purebloods when she pretends to align herself with Charlotte and promises delivery of both Marcus and Blade.

Krista in detox

Krista was locked in a room this episode. Can we leave her there?

Mercifully the House of Chthon scenes, especially those featuring piss-poor actress Hirst, are short.  I am growing weary of this plot line that doesn’t hold enough twists to be stretched over a dozen episodes.  I was glad to get confirmation of my suspicion that the baby in a bag from last episode was a snack for Charlotte, who prefers the blood of hours-old newborns.  Ahh, if only she could act she might be a good villain.

For the first time in the series we have no sign of FBI Agent Collins (Larry Poindexter) and his new coroner partner, nor any reference to Boone.  The episode smartly focused on the White Prince story and was the better for it.

Two episodes left to go, I actually find myself hoping for another hour devoted to a self-contained story as fulfilling as the White Prince’s and then a finale wrapping up the House of Chthon/Boone storylines.  But we shall see.

You can hear Arnie, Jakob, and Stuart review all the Blade films on the Now Playing podcast!

Read Arnie’s other Blade TV Series reviews:

1 Pilot
2 Death Goes On
3 Descent
4 Bloodlines
5 The Evil Within
6 Delivery
7 Sacrifice
8 Turn of the Screw
9 Angels and Demons
10 Hunters
11 Monsters
12 Conclave


September 10, 2011 Posted by | Blade - The TV Series, Comic Books, Reviews, Television | , , , | 2 Comments

Blade: The Series – Season 1, Episode 9: Angels and Demons

Original Air Date: August 16, 2006
Director: Norberto Barba

Warning: the following review contains spoilers for this and the previous episodes of Blade: The Series  You can watch this episode free at

I mentioned in the Blade movie review for Now Playing that I saw similarities between the character of Blade and the character of Angel from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, a vampire who had his soul restored.  Angel thus has all of the powers of a vampire, and uses those powers to fight other vampires.  Sure, there are some differences between Blade and Angel, but there are a lot of similarities too.

But in watching this latest episode of Blade: The Series I was not happy to be reminded of Angel’s own self-titled spin-off series.  There are some parallels between the two series–Marcus Van Sciver’s company is similar to Wolfram and Heart, and Blade and his friends fighting to take it down.  The two even have similar story structure with the episodic fights that lead to the larger story arc.  But if the differences before were subtle, this week’s episode made them abundantly clear.

Marcus and Damek in the 1800s

Filmmaking 101: If you have no confidence in your sets, your costumes, or your actors to sell the time period, make everything brown like an old timey photo.

One of the storytelling devices the Angel series used was showing flashbacks of the vampire characters from hundreds of years earlier when the characters were in their human lives or newly turned as vampires.  Angel, Spike, Drusilla, Darla, and others all had their backstories fleshed out through flashbacks.  I always felt these period-pieces were poorly done in Angel, and asking one-note actors like David Boreanaz to pretend to be old world characters with accents didn’t work either.  I hated those flashback episodes and always fought to pay attention.

And so I had a flashback of my own while watching Angels and Demons:  a flashback to watching Angel and hating that they were subjecting me to needless scenes from Angel’s early life.  Of all the things from Angel to copy, that is one Blade‘s creators should not have emulated.  Yet they did.

To be clear, I am not entirely anti-flashback.  Just two episodes ago in Sacrifice we got wonderful flashbacks to Blade’s childhood, but those flashbacks were given in a way that both served character and story.  By contrast, in Angels and Demons we get flashbacks to House of Chthon power player Marcus Van Sciver’s (Neil Jackson) human origins in the late 19th century, and what a mess these scenes are!

First, the performances are not convincing.  I’ve always felt Jackson was perfectly cast as evil businessman vampire Marcus, but playing a happy-go-lucky newlywed opening a feed store in the 1800s was not in the actor’s range.  (I really hope he honed his period-piece acting chops before filming 2013’s The Scarlet Pimpernel in which he is rumored to be the lead).

Second, the film style was annoying.  Perhaps the budget was not there to convincingly create sets that look like old-time Detroit, but to put the scenes through an obvious video-toaster level sepia filter is obnoxious.  It made the scenes ugly.

And third, while the flashbacks did tie into the modern day story, it was nowhere near as cleanly interspersed as Blade’s childhood was in Sacrifice.  For much of the episode I didn’t realize they tied in at all.  The framing for this week’s story was that Marcus’ newest protégée Krista Starr (Jill Wagner) was distraught over her role in the deaths of her mother and uncle last episode, and Krista works through her grief by getting drunk attacking humans.

Marcus is understanding but not exactly sympathetic as he tells Krista that all vampires suffer the deaths of the ones they used to love in their human lives.  To illustrate this point, Krista has an after-death experience in which she sees Marcus in his human life.

Marcus was turned by a Native American

Had the series continued, would the Native American Vampire plot been further explored? I'd love to see Goyer try to explain that.

With that lame a set-up I was really not happy these flashback scenes at all.  More, they confused me as we had seen Marcus being turned in the pilot as Krista’s first after-death experience, and I thought it took place in 14th or 15th century Africa with witch doctors and such.  Seeing natives in tribal headresses and Marcus sporting an old-world hairstyle I thought it was far earlier than the 19th century, and not in the USA.  Fortunately, the episode does address that dissonance.

However, the flashback got a bit more interesting as Marcus opens his store, and in walks Damek (Brent Stait) of the House of Armaya.  We saw Damek previously, blackmailing House of Chthon pureblood elder Charlotte (Emily Hirst), but now we see him as an old-school gangster vampire running a protection racket in 19th century Detroit.

Marcus is willful and refuses to pay, so Damek forces Marcus to watch as he rapes and bites Marcus’ wife Isabelle in a scene that actually shocked me.  I expected Isabelle to be beaten and disfigured, but the rape was graphic and extreme.  And when Marcus still will not bow to Damek’s request, Damek boxes Marcus up in a coffin and ships him…somewhere.  Here the episode doesn’t go into great detail, but I am taking it that the tribal people who turn Marcus are not African, but rather Native Americans who, with a black wolf, perform a ritual which turns Marcus into a vampire.

I can’t say I like the idea of American Indian vampire tribes, and I would have preferred something a bit more old-world, a bit more Anne Rice, which I had originally thought was Marcus’ background.  I also do not understand why Damek would punish an enemy by sending him to be turned immortal.  But I did like that Marcus has a long history with Damek, and an intense reason beyond the normal caste system for his hatred of pureblood vampires.

In the most trite of writing cliches, we see that in modern day Detroit the same Marcus/Damek dynamic is playing out again.  While Damek got everything he wanted from Charlotte in his blackmail scheme, he has gone to Detroit to visit Marcus and demand a cut of Marcus’ financials.  Why?  Because he can is the best answer the episode gives us, and that isn’t enough for me.  But it does shoddily create a parallel between Damek entering Marcus’ store in the 19th century demanding a cut, and Damek doing the same thing on a larger scale in modern day.

Damek's final moments

Marcus' burning hatred results in Damek's burning face.

And, as in the 19th century, Marcus refuses to give in to Damek’s demands, and the two engage in a bloody brawl.  I must say this fight has some truly great moments, such as Marcus holding Damek’s head in the burning fire, and Damek impaling Marcus with a fireplace poker.  The sub-par CGI effects, such as Marcus pulling the poker out, don’t lessen the fight’s excitement.

I wish the episode had gone into more detail about why Marcus chose this moment to kill Damek.  For nine episodes we’ve seen Marcus cow-tow to the purebloods while, in secret, working on the Aurora virus to kill them.  But now that the virus is almost ready, Marcus kills Damek hand to hand?  I would have liked to see the Aurora plot tie into Damek’s murder.  How easy it would have been to, instead of having a brawl, have Marcus offer Aurora to Damek?  As Marcus’ front for Aurora is that it makes vampires immune to silver, garlic, and sunlight, Marcus could have pretended to capitulate and offer Damek the opportunity to be the first unstoppable vampire.  Then Damek’s greed causes a painful death fitting for his character.

Don’t get me wrong, the fight between Damek and Marcus was good, but it was random.  The death by Aurora would have been a culmination of the plot so far.  Instead, we just see Marcus, after over 100 years of being subservient to Damek, taking a stand and fighting back physically with no explanation as to why.

I do love Damek’s last moments.  While Marcus has brooded for over a century about the way Isabelle was raped and killed, Damek just laughs saying “I don’t remember you, or whoever that whore was you say I killed”.  A nice, evil touch that works to put centuries of evil deeds in perspective.

And with that strike against the House of Armaya, Marcus sends his right-hand vampire Chase (Jessica Gower) to dust Damek’s driver.  And she does so in a very cool way–a swift roundhouse kick, her boot containing a James Bond-like blade, which cuts the vampire’s throat.

Krista and Marcus make love

Krista has gone from being under cover to being under covers.

Then, in their shared pain, Krista and Marcus then have tender vampire sex.  Well, tender may not be the right word, it’s actually really  violent–full of fangs, blood, and biting, but the musical score tries to make the scene seem tender and emotional. I have to say I didn’t see this twist coming.  The entire series thus far has been about Krista trying to get revenge on Marcus for murdering her brother.  If we had a better actress than Wagner in the role of Krista perhaps this would have been foreshadowed and come across as believable; instead it just comes off as a shock and felt arbitrary.

And while Krista and Marcus do the bloody deed, Blade (Kirk “Sticky Fingaz” Jones) is watching from outside like some creepy peeping-Tom.  Oh yeah, Blade!  This series is called Blade, not Marcus!  So where was Blade this episode?  Well, he had a few scenes.  Shen’s friend at the CDC diagnosed the Aurora as a virus designed specifically to kill only pureblood vampires, and there is some shaky scientific reason given as to why it’s developed in the wombs of human women (as revealed in Episode 6).  So Blade goes to the House of Chthon to investigate, and Shen hacks the security system cameras…only to have his hacking undone by episode’s end.

Shen gets caught

Given Whistler's fate in the films, I keep expecting Shen to have a lame death, such as being caught by a House of Chthon security guard.

Blade’s appearance in this episode felt obligatory and he really had no story to speak of, but there were some bright moments courtesy of Shen who I’m liking more and more as the series continues.  Shen is alone in the sewer, hacking into the Chthon security system when he is interrupted by a security guard.  Here, I really thought Shen might die.  His snarky attitude was one of the bright points of the series, and I would have been upset to see him go.  But surprise!   Blade is lurking, and pulls the guard into the ceiling then drops his dead body.  It was a fun bit of violence and I’m glad to see Shen live on.

Finally we get one scene of Charlotte, who becomes more convinced of Marcus’ betrayal when Charlotte’s spy Glynnis goes missing.  This scene is there just so we don’t forget Charlotte, though I keep trying to.

And we get two scenes of Agent Collins.  He is going back with his captain, when he sees a tattoo on the captain’s wrist–the captain is a Familiar.  Collins escapes and goes running to…some woman’s house.  This really confused the hell out of me so I had to stop the episode and do some digging–who was this woman?  It turns out her name is Jessica Ellis, and way back in episode 3 she Was the coroner who showed Agent Collins the van full of ashed vampires.  She was such a minor, functional character that I didn’t even include her in my episode summary, but now she’s back.

Do you recognize this woman?

Do you recognize this woman? I sure as hell didn't.

We had not seen her in 6 episodes, and for normal TV viewers this would have been a month and a half between appearances of this minor, generic character.  I even went to where they have all these episodes on demand and include the “last time on Blade” scenes that are not on the DVD.  In this episode’s recap there is no shot or mention of Ellis, so I imagine I was not the only one who was like “who is this?”

But the coroner has seen enough strange deaths, so she believes Collins’ story of vampires.  She tells Collins of Blade, who was last seen in Detroit.

Overall, this episode was pretty mediocre.  Still nowhere near the heights of Sacrifice, and with only three episodes left to go I am really hoping things escalate.  A little less backstory and a little more story would be a welcome change of pace.

You can hear Arnie, Jakob, and Stuart review all the Blade films on the Now Playing podcast!

Read Arnie’s other Blade TV Series reviews:

1 Pilot
2 Death Goes On
3 Descent
4 Bloodlines
5 The Evil Within
6 Delivery
7 Sacrifice
8 Turn of the Screw
9 Angels and Demons
10 Hunters
11 Monsters
12 Conclave


September 9, 2011 Posted by | Blade - The TV Series, Comic Books, Reviews, Television | , , , | 1 Comment

Blade: The Series – Season 1, Episode 8: Turn of the Screw

Original Air Date: August 16, 2006
Director: Norberto Barba

Warning: the following review contains spoilers for this and the previous episodes of Blade: The Series  You can watch this episode free at

Krista and Glynnis fighting

How can Lisa sleep through all that noise?

After being treated to the best episode in this series, I had high hopes coming into Turn of the Screw, and the opening scene didn’t disappoint.  At first I thought it was going to be a recap of last episode’s conclusion, as we see Krista Starr’s mother Lisa (P. Lynn Johnson) lying in her hospital bed, as we saw last episode.  I had assumed that we would see a replay of last week’s final scene–Krista (Jill Wagner) choking her mother with a pillow, then Glynnis (Jody Thompson), the vampire spying on Krista, entering and discovering Krista’s collusion with Blade.  As the two women prepare to fight, FBI Agent Collins (Larry Poindexter) would enter and get visual proof that vampires exist, and the two vampires would turn their fangs on him.  Then, finally, the action would begin.

I thought all this as the camera held steady on Krista’s mother, but the scene was still.  And as I saw  Krista’s mom laying there, bleeding from her wrist, I found myself wondering “Where’s the pillow Krista used to choke her?  Is the choking coming?”  Then the episode shows its hand and it fooled me — the silence is broken by Agent Collins’ body being thrown over the body of Krista’s mom, and the episode begins where I wanted it to–with the vamp-on-vamp fight between Glynnis and Krista.

Krista leaves Glynnis shattered

Mirror, mirror on the wall will ash Glynnis after all.

And man what a fight it is!  The stunt men have their best wire-fu going.  Sure, some of it is sped up obviously to enhance the action, and it would still be sub-par for a Blade theatrical film, but this stands as the best fight we’ve seen in the series to date.  Glynnis hugs the ceiling to avoid Krista, and Krista wins the fight by smashing Glynnis with a full-length mirror.  Glynnis dissolves because, as Krista helpfully states, mirrors are backed with silver, and I’m left to Google “mirror, silver” to see if it’s true.  Sure enough it is!

Still, the fight ended exactly as I predicted, with Glynnis dead and Krista and Collins back where they were before.  I would have liked a game-changer; instead I got yet another Krista victory.

During the fight, newly-turned Lisa escapes the hospital room, thus setting up the plot of the episode:  Blade (Kirk “Sticky Fingaz” Jones) and Krista chasing after Lisa.  Blade’s security system had tapes of Krista stealing his serum, so he goes to confront his partner but quickly joins Krista in the hunt for Lisa.

Lisa's EMT Lunch

Vampires are scary. Old ladies are scary. Old ladies as vampires? Hysterical.

Not familiar with her vampiric nature, Lisa first goes to her bother’s house where the thirst overtakes her.  As she feeds on Krista’s uncle she has a vision.  Vampires often get visions of their makers being turned, and Lisa witnesses her daughter being turned by Marcus Van Sciver (Neil Jackson).  As Marcus is a local celebrity, the confused Lisa heads to the head vampire’s office complex.

Krista and Blade spend the episode playing “catch-up.”  They find the body of Krista’s uncle, and while Wagner tries to display pain outside her acting range, Blade beheads the corpse lest it turn into a vampire.

When the two finally catch up to Lisa, she had already fed enough times that Blade’s serum held no power and there was no choice but to kill her.  Blade is, of course, ready to do the deed but Krista ends up taking responsibility for her actions.  Krista pulls the trigger putting her mother out of her misery as the screen cuts to credits.

And thus ends this week’s lackluster A-storyline.  A far letdown from last week’s Blade story.

Krista kills her mother

Krista should be torn up as she is about to ash her own mother. But Wagner's facial expression looks like she just ate some bad Thai food.

I was immediately disappointed when this episode started with Shen (Nelson Lee) asking if Blade would try to talk to his father, introduced last episode, and Blade responds “no”.  I was hungry for more Richard Roundtree, and this episode was fatherus interruptus.  Replacing it with Krista hunting her mother was a poor substitute indeed!

But this week’s B-storyline involves my favorite fanged fiend, Chase (Jessica Gower)!  Marcus’ right-hand-vampire is mostly healed from Blade’s planted bomb, with just some burns on the back of her neck, so Marcus sends her to Vegas to lowball a business deal.  Of course, this deal takes place in a strip club, and my “unrated” DVDs make up in one scene for the gratuitous titty shots that have been lacking the past several episodes.

At the strip club Chase is spotted by a pureblood vampire named Alex (Kavan Smith), who apparantly likes a challenge as Chase is the only clothed woman in the room.  It is revealed Alex and Chase had a relationship 60-some-odd years ago–a relationship Alex wishes to rekindle with some wonderfully kinky, violent vampire sex.  There are some great lines in this scene such as Alex saying “I have missed you” and Chase replying “I haven’t thought of you once” before cutting her breast for Alex to feed on.  With Chase it seems possible.

Chase and Alex

Chase and Alex look like they're having a bloody good time together. But what happens in Vegas...ends in Detroit I guess.

This plot then becomes muddled.  Chase tells Alex that since the bomb in Berlin, Marcus has lost faith in her, and she thinks she’s been sent to Vegas set up to fail.  Chase says she’d like to stay in Vegas, away from Marcus, and be with Alex.  Marcus then shows up, catches Chase in bed with Alex, and Alex throws some insults at humans-turned-vampires in general and Marcus in particular with the best one being that turned vamipres are “pieces of meat that got a reprieve”.

With the posturing out of the way, Alex then tries to pay Marcus for Chase’s freedom.  Alex views this as rescuing Chase, but she sees as being bought from Marcus like cattle.  Alex and Marcus toast to the agreement, but Alex’s blood drink was drugged, and when Alex awakens he’s strapped down to a chair and injected with the Aurora virus which causes him to die a slow, agonizing death–the final test for Marcus’ biological weapon against the purebloods.

Now I don’t know if Chase’s angst was real, or if all this was a plot set up to lure Alex so they could test the drug on a pureblood.  As written, the episode allows it to go either way.  You can see Chase enjoying the rough sex, and also hurt by Alex’s comments on turned vampires, so had he not been so callous would he still have died?  I don’t know.

What I do know is that Marcus wanting to use the drug on the purebloods was set up episodes ago, robbing this episode from any surprise when we see Aurora used as a weapon.  There was no suspense as Alex was injected, just a knowledge that he had been betrayed by Chase.

Alex dying from Aurora

With Aurora we get to see an all new way for Vampires to die. Slowly. And with lots of latex make-up.

The ambiguity of Chase’s motivations intrigues me, but the entire plot line was hampered as we had never seen Alex before.  Had this plot been executed against Frederick, Chase’s ex-husband, rather than newly introduced Alex perhaps the scenes would have had more weight.  As depicted, this story was diverting but not enthralling.

Finally, the C for the C-storyline stands for Collins.  After the fight with Krista, he reports the existence of vampires to his superior officer, Agent Sorenson.  As a result of this unlikely proclamation, Collins is put through the cliche of having his badge and gun revoked by Sorenson.  But Collins persists and Sorenson agrees to listen, and thus Collins’ story gets stalled for yet another episode.

And as the episode’s credits roll I feel let down.  I thought with last week’s tremendous episode Sacrifice the series may have hit its stride, but Turn of the Screw is back to the old game of inching forward the overall storylines but not providing any real development or payoff.

I did like the idea that Krista’s selfishness, her refusal to allow her mother to rest in peace, causes immeasurable pain as well as the death of Krista’s uncle.  It is well written, but by now my displeasure with Jill Wagner’s acting has been well documented and her performance yet again undercuts what could have been a great dramatic storyline.  The best writing can be hampered by the worst actress, and this isn’t the best writing.

While starting off with the best fight I’ve seen on Blade so far, the episode quickly falls back on its old habits, and I’m disappointed yet again.

With four episodes left, I’m left only with the hope that the House of Chthon-Marcus versus the purebloods-story must advance soon.  Right?

You can hear Arnie, Jakob, and Stuart review all the Blade films on the Now Playing podcast!

Read Arnie’s other Blade TV Series reviews:

1 Pilot
2 Death Goes On
3 Descent
4 Bloodlines
5 The Evil Within
6 Delivery
7 Sacrifice
8 Turn of the Screw
9 Angels and Demons
10 Hunters
11 Monsters
12 Conclave


September 8, 2011 Posted by | Blade - The TV Series, Comic Books, Reviews, Television | , , , | 4 Comments

Blade: The Series – Season 1, Episode 7: Sacrifice

Original Air Date: August 9, 2006
Director: David Straiton

Warning: the following review contains spoilers for this and the previous episodes of Blade: The Series.  You can watch this episode free at

Young Blade with a Sack Lunch

Teenage Eric Brooks eating a bag lunch.

Before I review this episode I wanted to share a revelation I had while driving to work this morning:  this is a series truly made for comic book fans, not just because it stars a comic book character but because it is written and paced like a comic book series.  Series runners Geoff Johns and David S. Goyer both have previously written for comic books so this type of storytelling must come very naturally to them.  But taking every episode of Blade as a single issue, I see all the elements that were common in every issue of a serialized comic book:  a fight or two, a few teases about a larger story or conspiracy, and a villain from a couple issues back returns to continue their role in the saga.  So the pacing and storytelling that frustrates me as a regular viewer of serialized television comes directly from Blade’s comic book origins, and I wonder if it clicked with the comic set.

I’m not sure this type of comic book pacing holds true for comics written today, with the intent of arcs being compiled and sold as trade paperbacks.  Not every issue stands alone in today’s comics, nor do they always contain a big fight.  However, in the 70’s and 80’s these conventions were expected.

Truly the two mediums should be somewhat similar in storytelling, but I think comic book audiences may be conditioned to be more forgiving than television viewers, and often pacing that works in the printed medium doesn’t work in a visual one.

But as I put to bed the pacing problems I had with previous episodes of Blade I actually now have the pleasure of reviewing my single favorite episode of the series so far — Sacrifice, a great tale about family, and in it we have two parallel stories.

Blade's father, stepmother, and their cop friend Flanigan

Blade's father, stepmother, and Flanigan try to keep Blade's hunger satiated lest they be his next meal.

Our primary story is Blade’s (Kirk “Sticky Fingaz” Jones), as it should be but often hasn’t been.  Steppin’ Razor (Bokeem Woodbine), the vampire from Blade’s past introduced to in Episode 4, is back and there is still some “Bad Blood” between the two.  Now, rather than attack Blade directly, Steppin’ Razor is murdering seemingly random people, including a cop and an elderly nurse. Flashbacks tell us these victims all have some kind of connection to Eric Brooks (Blade’s childhood identity).

It seems the past several episodes have really wanted to include Blade’s origin story with its chronicle of the House of Chthon.  Episode 4 had the Bad Bloods talking about Blade’s induction in the gang while Episode 6 showed Blade having visions of his mother while pregnant with him.  But the problem with both those episodes was the ham-handed way they tried to tell us about Blade’s past in a way that truly had little impact on the rest of the story.  It was information Blade fans may drink up, but any casual TV viewer would be turned off by the lack of story and excitement.

But in this episode, they successfully link Blade’s present with his past, and rather than having people talk about Blade’s childhood as they did in Episode 4, here they show us through flashbacks.  Admittedly this was a common storytelling device in the first three seasons of Lost, but Blade utilizes the storytelling technique very well here.

Young Blade (Eric Roberts) in Chains

Grounding a daywalker is a bit more difficult than an ordinary child.

We see Blade as a child (Jon Kent Ethridge) on the verge of adolescence, cared for by his father Robert Brooks (Colin Lawrence).  Robert knew of Eric’s vampiric nature, so when not supervised he would chain the boy up in a locked room and give him blood transfusions to stave off Eric’s hunger.

Robert’s aided in the cover-up of his son’s monstrous side by Viola (Robinne Fanfair), a nurse at a local hospital.  Viola steals bags of human blood from the hospital to transfuse into Eric after it is discovered cow blood made Blade ill.  Also helping is Officer Flannigan (Elias Toufexis), a local cop who helped keep Eric under control.

But as Eric reaches adolescence his hunger cannot be maintained.  He tears open a bag of blood with his teeth and drinks it, and vamps out when angry.  Desperate, Eric calls in help in the form of a vampire hunter Abraham Whistler (Adrian Mcmorran).

However, Whistler’s primary motivation isn’t to help Eric but to either kill him or turn him into a weapon that can aid Whistler’s war against vampires.  Hearing this through a door, Eric smashes his hand with a cinder block to escape his chains and runs away to his friend Mr. Taka’s convenience store.  However, the store is being robbed.  Eric defends Mr. Taka by killing and feeding on both robbers–Blade’s first kills.

His feeding is interrupted by Robert and Whistler, and one of the robbers fires off a shot, hitting Robert in the stomach.  Thinking his father dead, Eric runs away to not be seen again.

While being a flashback in this episode, this is a truly great, emotional story.  Here we get answers to questions that have to be asked, such as how does anyone raise a half-vampire without ending up in the news?  How did the thirst stay under control before Whistler came up with the serum?  But not only are those questions answered but we also have some wonderful emotions as we watch a parent covering up the crimes of a child, and a child trying to come of age and come to terms with what he is.

Blade after his first kills

Young Eric Roberts had a good ethic on hunting - he eats what he kills.

In addition, we get Whistler, and he has a grand entrance.  Sure, this is not played by Kris Kristofferson, it’s a much younger man, but he is given an incredible entrance and the fanboy in me buzzed with delight at seeing Whistler again.  While this does create some continuity problems with the first Blade film, where Whistler said he found Blade as a teenager on the street eating homeless people, it is worth it to explain why Whistler would know what Blade was and where to look for him.

And we also see Blade is the one who broke Whistler’s leg, attacking Whistler while escaping from Mr. Taka’s store.  Again, this is a very Star Wars-y “certain point of view” interpretation of when Whistler says his leg was injured by vampires, it adds a bit of redemption to Blade’s side of his partnership with Whistler.

If all of that wasn’t enough, the production values of these flashbacks are first rate.  The production team went through the trouble to get period-accurate costumes, hairstyles, and even background score music for these scenes.  And it feels real, never coming across as a parody like That 70’s Show.  So kudos all around for a wonderful flashback setting and story.

But even better, that story feeds into the present day.  What I don’t think I realized until this episode was that Blade was originally from Detroit; his coming to Detroit wasn’t just to hunt the House of Chthon, it was a homecoming after the events in Blade: Trinity.  Perhaps I should have gotten this more clearly when the Bad Bloods came in, but it was never driven home until now.

Young Whistler with Blade's parents

In case you thought Whistler hardened with age, even in the 70's he was ready to train Blade...or kill him.

But with Steppin’ Razor having survived his last fight with Blade, he is now making it personal, finding Eric Brooks’ friends and helpers and killing them one by one.  Flannigan and Mr. Taka are killed, but Blade and Shen arrive just in time to revive Viola, who Steppin’ Razor tried to drown at the nursing home where she worked.  Viola then points Blade to Razor’s next victim–Blade’s father.  With medical aid by Viola, Robert Brooks survived the shooting, and with Blade having returned to Detroit so did Robert, wanting to reconnect with his son.

Blade rushes to the abandonned apartment building where he grew up, and has a rematch with Steppin’ Razor.
And, once again, the series gets it right.  Steppin’ Razor wants to kill Blade and his father.  This is a fight with stakes (in both senses of the word!), and that’s something this show has been lacking in so many episodes where Blade slaughtered faceless vampires.

And the fight is well constructed, with Blade and Steppin’ Razor evenly matched, and when Steppin’ Razor dies with Blade’s sword to his chest it’s a triple surprise — first because Blade was not fighting with his sword, second because it’s Robert Brooks taking Blade’s sword and interrupting the fight, and third because to get at Steppin’ Razor he stabbed Blade clean through!

Robert Brooks, Steppin' Razor, and Blade

Someone should tell Robert Brooks that the best tactic to reconnect with your estranged son is not to literally stab him in the back, even if it is to save his life.

And if all that wasn’t enough, Blade’s father is played by Richard Roundtree!  The 70’s love continues as the original, and best, Shaft shows up as Blade’s older father.  This casting is so perfect in that Roundtree’s Shaft was the original bad ass, and now he is the father to a bad ass vampire killer.  It keeps with the 70’s vibe of the episode, and just makes perfect sense.  The only regret I had was that it was spoiled in the opening credits so I knew that bad mutha (shut yo mouth!) would show up in the episode; had they resisted the urge to put him in the credits it would have been even better still.

All of this makes for honestly a better Blade story than we got in three movies.  And in it, Sticky Fingaz does very well.  When reunited with his father, Sticky rides the perfect line, showing a character trying to keep emotions under control while completely denying his father, saying “My father was the vampire that bit my mother, you’re just the guy who got stuck holding the bag.”  It was dramatic, but it was also believable that Blade would want to hurt his father with words, even though we know Blade isn’t being totally honest after spending so much time trying to save his father.

Emotional resonance like this is something this series has not been able to accomplish in its first six episodes, and I’m so happy to have some now.  If the back six are all like this, the journey will have been well worth it.

Krista and her dying mother

To bite or not to bite, that is the question.

In the episode’s B storyline, Krista Starr (Jill Wagner) is dealing with her mother’s death from Leukemia.  While I wasn’t a big fan of this subplot when introduced last episode, here it worked very well, showing Krista’s dealing with the death of a parent in direct contrast to Blade’s discovery of a parent still alive.  That balance gives this story a weight that Wagner’s acting range cannot.

Krista, not wanting her mother to die, is faced with the choice of losing her mother or turning her mother into a vampire.  There are several scenes where her mother, delusional from pain medicine, is asked if she’d like to be with Krista “forever” and always saying “yes.”  With this permission, Krista breaks into Blade’s lair Mission Impossible-style crawling on the ceiling to avoid the security system.  When in, she steals several vials of the serum to control her mother’s hunger, and then bites her dying mother before suffocating her with a pillow.

Poor acting and poor plotting hurt this storyline, especially when put up against Blade’s story, but it does have a wonderful element of moral ambiguity, asking how far you would go to save a loved one.  Krista cries as she suffocates her mother, and if only Jill Wagner could act her way out of a paper bag perhaps the scene would have gotten me emotional as well, but that is apparently asking too much from an actress who got her start pulling pranks on Punk’d? This poor casting choice will haunt the series forever.  But she does gets one great moment this episode, which we will get to in a minute.

Babies eating babies

It's an epidemic, children eating children!

But first, speaking of bad casting, little Emily Hirst is back giving her best daytime-soap-opera performance as the evil vampire child Charlotte.  Her spy Glynnis (Jody Thompson) is still trying to find dirt on Detroit House of Chthon leader Marcus Van Sciver (Neil Jackson), and is learning the Aurora project, which promises to cure the Vampire weaknesses for garlic, silver, and sunlight, may never happen.  With this news, Charlotte tasks Glynnis with investigating Krista, and we the audience wonder if Krista’s secret alliance with Blade will be revealed.

We also see Charlotte given a baby in a bag.  I wondered if they’d make Charlotte truly evil, rather than just petulant, by showing her eating a baby, but all we’re given is the ominous line “I could eat you up, yes I could.”  Hirst’s delivery of the line is so flat that I don’t know if it was trying to be menacing, charming, or funny.  Is this baby a meal, or a subplot?  By pulling this punch, it’s apparent the vampires may have fangs but Blade: The Series does not.

And lest we forget about the final thread that weaves through Blade: The Series we get one scene of FBI Agent Collins (Larry Poindexter) as he continues to investigate crooked-cop-cum-vampire Boone.  As Boone has not been seen, Collins is now trying to find Krista, who was one of Boone’s open cases when the cop went missing.

Krista and Glynnis Vamped Out

Krista vs Glynnis? Krista and Glynnis vs Collins? Krista vs Collins vs Glynnis? You mean I have to wait to find out?!?!

But all these B, C, and even D level subplots end magnificently, and together.  Krista, shortly after killing her mother, is visited by Glynnis, who grabs Krista’s bag of serum.  Krista and Glynnis both vamp out and we think we’re going to get a great girl-on-girl vampire fight, and I’m pumped…when Agent Collins walks in, flashing his badge and shouting “FBI!”  And when both she-vampires turn their fangs towards Collins, giving him proof of what he suspected, the existence of vampires!  It is a total rush…as the screen cuts to black and credits roll, making the audience wait a week (or me one day) to see the conclusion.

I have enough experience with television cliffhanger endings that I dare not hope for this scene to result the total violent riot I imagine; the fight will probably be perfunctory and end with Krista and Collins in tact, and minor character Glynnis dying to keep Krista’s allegiance secret as this show has no problem killing the minor characters.  Still, the excitement of the moment was perfect and I find myself for the first time in the series greatly anticipating the next episode.  And perhaps now that Krista’s secret is at risk, and now that Collins has seen vampires in person, these subplots that were given one scene per episode can take center stage as we prepare for our end-of-season showdown.

Shen and Blade are on the case

Once again Shen is let out of the lair to investigate with Blade.

If all that is not enough praise, a couple more quick hits. First, more kudos to the writers for Shen’s dialogue in this episode’s opening scene.  He’s been Blade’s whipping boy for 6 episodes, and his snarky replies at the start of this show are reminiscent of Ryan Reynolds’ Hannibal King from Blade:  Trinity, especially Shen’s response when Blade complains about the A/C in the car not working:   “Maybe you should get a bad-ass summer-weight coat”

I also love that little Eric Brooks is a comic book fan, reading both Avengers and Hulk.  As the entire Now Playing Marvel movie retrospective was sparked by The Avengers, it was cool to see a shout-out.

Television shows often take a few episodes to reach their potential.  With Sacrifice it seems Blade: The Series found its footing at last, and I cannot wait until tomorrow to see where the series goes next.

You can hear Arnie, Jakob, and Stuart review all the Blade films on the Now Playing podcast!

Read Arnie’s other Blade TV Series reviews:

1 Pilot
2 Death Goes On
3 Descent
4 Bloodlines
5 The Evil Within
6 Delivery
7 Sacrifice
8 Turn of the Screw
9 Angels and Demons
10 Hunters
11 Monsters
12 Conclave


September 7, 2011 Posted by | Blade - The TV Series, Comic Books, Reviews, Television | , , , | 8 Comments

Blade: The Series – Season 1, Episode 6: Delivery

Blade Slaps Vanessa

Blade is very old school in the "I'll slap the bitch unconscious rather than talk to her" kind of way.

Original Air Date: August 2, 2006
Director: Alex Chapple

Warning: the following review contains spoilers for this and the previous episodes of Blade: The Series.  You can watch this episode free at

This episode kicks off with Blade (Kirk “Sticky Fingaz” Jones) and the prisoner he rescued last episode, the pregnant Vanessa (Sonja Bennett), on a train outside of Paris. When Vanessa starts to scream for help, which is completely reasonable given that she’s handcuffed with a strange, stoic man who just injected himself with some drug, Blade takes the step of bitch-slapping her unconscious.

That shocked the hell out of me.  I mean, Blade has always been an anti-hero, but I know groups of internet folks that would start letter writing campaigns over this.  Even I, more forgiving than most, don’t know if that was cool for Blade to do.  But I have to give the series this:  it has shown time and again that it’s not afraid to take Blade to some risky places, and this may be the riskiest so far.  Later this same episode a vampire attacks Vanessa and Blade says “Don’t hit the pregnant lady” – not because he had an epiphany about what he did was wrong but because … we’ll get into that in a bit.

Blade is taking Vanessa to Paris to see a doctor who will examine what she is carrying, and perhaps tend to the concussion Blade just gave her, but House of Chthon vampire Marcus Van Sciver (Neil Jackson) has sent teams of assassins to intercept and stop Blade.  The first of these assassins attack on the train, others attack in the Paris sewer, and I really wonder how Marcus’ trackers found Blade in those places.  The train I could almost see as Marcus somehow knew Blade was headed to Paris, and perhaps Marcus agrees with me in thinking Blade should avoids air.  But in the sewer?  How in the world could these assassins know exactly which sewer Blade would visit and when?  Is there some sewer in Paris that all the tourist vampires must see when in the City of Light?

Blade Vamprie Assassin on Ceiling

What a feeling...when you're vamping on the ceiling.

I was happy to see these assassination attempts as it meant some action for the show, and one part was truly inventive–a vampire coming at Blade while crawling upside-down on the ceiling of a train-car.  But unfortunately violence without story is a boring thing, and between the random attack locations and the nameless, faceless nature of the attackers it felt like dull video game sequences rather than great action scenes. The walk into a sewer to be ambushed was the most video game-like, as if Blade just hit a checkpoint and triggered a wave of attackers.  Also, the fights seem small in scope as the assassins attack in pairs.  In the movies we’ve seen Blade take out a hundred vampires in five minutes, so two don’t seem like very much of a threat.

But during the fights Vanessa and Blade form a bond, Vanessa even saving Blade from one terrible stunt-woman evil vampire on the train.

And while I don’t know how Marcus knew where the assassins could find Blade, the show does explain how Marcus knew to send them in the first place.  Congratulations to the screenwriters, you fooled me.  Last episode I bemoaned the death of sexy, fun vampire Chase (Jessica Gower) in a lackluster explosion.  Silly me to think a raging fire could kill such a character, as she is found burned but undead, and sent back to Detroit.  I would however like to know how she’s sent back to Detroit, as when she’s delivered to the House of Chthon’s medical wing she is still smoking from the fire.  Now, Blade had to fly (presumably coach, vampire hunting doesn’t pay well I’d assume) almost 16 hours, not counting layovers, from Detroit to Berlin.    Yet somehow Chase’s burned body gets from Berlin to Detroit while still smoldering.  Okay, let’s move on.

Chase is Smoking Hot

Chase is smoking hot.

Through blood therapies (and oxygen? Why would a vampire need an oxygen tube?) Chase begins the change from the Freddy Kruger latex-monster she was back to the sexy English vamp we’ve come to love, and she reveals Blade’s interference and his rescue of Vanessa.  To stop Blade and retrieve Vanessa, Marcus dispatches his pairs of assassins, and also sends Krista Starr (Jill Wagner) to Paris.

But Krista has some personal problems to deal with.  Her mother has been diagnosed with leukemia, and Krista’s uncle tracks her down to ask her to donate bone marrow.  The vampire is afraid she’ll infect her kin through the transplant, so she refues the request and her uncle accuses her of trying to hide a drug habit.  Krista’s Paris assignment is probably a welcome diversion from her guilty conscience.  Of course, as Krista is Blade’s undercover operative in the House of Chthon she cannot actually partake in killing the daywalker, so she kills the two assassins who accompanied her, and meets Blade at the doctor’s office.

Blade himself is also a bit distracted as he’s been having visions of his mother (Alana Husband) when she was pregnant and recently turned, saying how she wished she’d killed Blade in the womb.  Of course, the doctor points out Blade’s mother’s name was also Vanessa, so the proximity to a possible vampiric pregnancy would bring back these thoughts.

Krista missing an eye

Krista has a bad case of pink-eye. Perhaps if she treats it with Worcestershire sauce she'll turn into a zombie and Blade will have a new evil to fight!

Unfortunately none of these flashbacks worked for me.  Being delusions or visions or whatever, they carried little weight, and they didn’t provide me any more insight into Blade as a character.  I think the writer’s intent was to give us more of Blade’s back story, but there was no payoff to it.  More, it shows Vanessa Brooks vamped out and pregnant in the kitchen, whereas we know from the original Blade film that she went into labor immediately after being bitten.  Overall these scenes did not work for me, but perhaps this will come up again later.

The pregnancy story takes a big twist here, and once again I was mistaken in my prediction, for what Vanessa is carrying is not an army of pure-blood daywalkers, but actually nothing at all!  There is no baby in Vanessa’s womb, just a mysterious viscus fluid.  No one knows what the fluid is – only that it is not Aurora.

The doctor extracts all the fluid from Vanessa, and Blade arranges for Vanessa to go underground hiding from the House of Chthon.  Blade takes a small sample of the fluid for analysis, and Krista takes the rest to return to Marcus.

One great twist comes when Krista realizes she can’t return to Marcus without suspicion.  She has Blade cut her face with his sword, take out one of her eyes, and also mutilate her hand.  It’s a great touch that I didn’t see coming, even if it does lack weight since we know she will heal by next episode.

Marcus and not-so-sweet Charlotte

All the dramatic camera angles in the world can't improve Emily Hirst's performance as Charlotte.

We also get a scene that I actually liked of Krista wondering if she can continue to play double-agent, and realizing that this isn’t a mission with an end date but something that will go on perhaps forever.  It’s a great moment that actually served to drive home the emotional scope of Blade and her war on Marcus, though I wonder if she’s lost sight that her original objective was not death to all vampires, but just to avenge her brother.

Speaking of Marcus, he has problems of his own as Damek, head of the House of Armaya, has demanded a meeting with him and House of Chthon pureblood elder Charlotte (Emily Hirst).  Damek knows of the Aurora project and, worse, knows that over a thousand Armayan vampires were killed while being experimented on by Chthon scientists.   Charlotte thinks rogue vampire Det. Boone (Bill Mondy) spilled the beans of Aurora to the Armayans, but in the meeting it’s discovered that the leak was Sands, the vampire from three episodes ago.

Still, Boone is on the loose and we do get one scene of FBI Agent Collins (Larry Poindexter) still on Boone’s trail and investigating the shootout at the Louisiana funeral home.  Collins’ chief Sorenson calls to take Collins off the case, but Collins refuses and we’re given an insight that Collins’ investigation may be personal, related to the death of his family.

Blade fights in a French sewer

I believe this sewer is mentioned in Frommer's Paris guide as a Suggested Itineraries for Three Days

Overall this episode failed to impress me.  While my early reviews complained of there being no action, this episode had action for action’s sake and it was unfulfilling.  While I am hooked on the X-Files-like mystery of the strange amniotic fluid, Marcus’ grand scheme, and what will come of Boone and Collins, these are all the slow-moving subplots that weave through every episode but yet progress very little.  It’s these myth-building elements that have hooked me on shows such as X-Files, Lost, and Heroes, but the Blade mysteries honestly can’t hold a candle to the black oil, The Others, or Sylar.

If the overarching stories of Blade were more compelling, I’d be more engaged.  Likewise, if the larger arcs remained the same but each individual episodic story, such as the assassination attempts here or the Bad Bloods previously, were more entertaining then the show would be passable.  But right now, the episodic adventures are lackluster, and the overarching story minimal.

My only hope is that, as we approach the end of the season, the larger story arcs will come to the fore and (dare I dream?) have a satisfying payoff.

Current verdict: complete not recommend, even for Blade fans.  Pick up a comic instead.

You can hear Arnie, Jakob, and Stuart review all the Blade films on the Now Playing podcast!

Read Arnie’s other Blade TV Series reviews:

1 Pilot
2 Death Goes On
3 Descent
4 Bloodlines
5 The Evil Within
6 Delivery
7 Sacrifice
8 Turn of the Screw
9 Angels and Demons
10 Hunters
11 Monsters
12 Conclave


September 5, 2011 Posted by | Blade - The TV Series, Comic Books, Reviews, Television | , , , | 10 Comments

Blade: The Series – Season 1, Episode 5: The Evil Within

Krista's vision

Do filmmakers really think audiences can't tell the difference between real night shooting and daytime shots put through a filter? Or do the filmmakers just not care?

Original Air Date: July 26, 2006
Director: Michael Robison

Warning: the following review contains spoilers for this and the previous episodes of Blade: The Series.  You can watch this episode free at

Again, this next episode of Blade continues where the last ended, with Krista (Jill Wagner) in the pool of blood at the house of Leichen having a vision showing where rogue vampire Det. Boone (Bill Mondy) is hiding.  And I can’t help but wonder if Krista sees her vision as we do–poorly filmed behind a darkening lens filter to try and make daytime look like nighttime.  In the vision Krista is visited by her dead brother, and then sees Boone saying he’s going to Louisiana where he is trying to make contact with House of Armaya.

With this information, Krista’s sire Marcus Van Sciver (Neil Jackson) sends Krista and her vampire mentor Chase (Jessica Gower) to Louisiana to capture and kill Boone.  After they leave we see Frederick, Chase’s ex-husband and Leichen guru, has discovered one of Krista’s serum vials, leading the Leichens to believe Krista may be swayed to their house.  Frederick resists this idea, not wanting to upset Marcus, or perhaps Chase.

Chase and Krista lead several House of Chthon soldiers to Louisiana, interrupting Boone’s attempt to meet with one of the Armayaian pure bloods.  Several vampires of both houses die, and Krista’s attempts to save a human Boone took captive.  Boone wounds the human and runs, and when Chase walks in and sees the wounded human, she believes Krista stopped for a mid-fight snack.

Blade's Predator Vision

With such a drastic temperature change, wouldn't Vanessa notice her stomach skin is several degrees colder?

Boone hides in a bathroom and Chase shoots blindly through the bathroom door killing a vampire she believes is Boone but is actually a random Armayain.  But thinking their mission was accomplished, Chase and Krista return to Detroit.  But the human Krista saved is taken to a hospital, and interrogated by FBI Agent Collins (Larry Poindexter), who has been trying to find Boone, and helps confirm to him that vampires are real.

Meanwhile in Detroit Blade (Kirk “Sticky Fingaz” Jones) continues to follow his lead on Dr. Vonner, the gynecologist who committed suicide last episode.  At Dr. Vonner’s funeral Blade spots Vanessa, the waitress to whom Krista delivered a package back in Episode 3.  Using his infrared goggles, Blade realizes whatever Vanessa is carrying in her womb, it’s body temperature is too low to be human.

While following Vanessa, Blade has an altercation with a drug dealer and shatters a baseball bat in the dealer’s face.  I wonder if this was to set up a new enemy for Blade, or just filler.  Time will tell.

Chase returns to Detroit, and Marcus asks her to immediately take Vanessa to Berlin to keep her away from the purebloods, and as if on cue Vanessa is visited by Charlotte (Emily Hirst) – a pureblood vampire “child” and one of the rulers of the House of Chthon.  Charlotte knows Marcus is up to something, and is remaining in Detroit to keep an eye on Marcus.  Charlotte even recruits Marcus’ aide Glynnis to perform a full audit of all the activities of the House of Chthon.

Not-So-Sweet Charlotte

The actress who plays Charlotte has dethroned Jake Lloyd as "worst child actor I've had the misfortune to watch"

Blade tracks Vanessa to Berlin, where he infiltrates the nest and rescues Vanessa (though she thinks she is being kidnapped), and sets off a bomb which kills Chase.

And back at the House of Chthon, Krista continues her search for the Aurora vaccine.  After several aborted attempts at stealth, she finally loses patience and breaks the glass case to steal a sample for Blade.  But she is caught in the act by Marcus who confides in Krista that the vaccine is a ruse.  Aurora only works for a couple of days before vaccinated vampires have a negative reaction and decompose.  Marcus has a plan to use Aurora so he can rule the House of Chthon and offers Krista a spot at his side.  She agrees, but whether she’s resigning herself to her life as a vampire or continuing her deep cover we need to wait until the next episode to see.

I have to say Blade: The Series hits its stride with Episode Five.  It was action-packed and exposition-light.  Previous episodes would have spent fifteen minutes on Krista’s vision alone, but here it was under five minutes, and before we knew it they had gone to Louisiana to kick Boone’s ass.  And once in Louisiana we are treated to a huge gunfight, with vampires being dusted left and right.

Then later we have another action sequence with Blade in Berlin.   There is less action, but what action it has is more expertly executed.  We also see that Sticky Fingaz has been practicing his martial arts, or his stunt double got an upgrade, as we get a well-staged martial arts fight that is almost worthy of the Blade feature films.

This is the first episode of Blade that doesn’t feel cheap.  The hokey vampire ashings now take place behind warped glass or closed doors.  And they milk a hospital explosion from several angles, and even engulf Chase in convincing CGI fire.  Perhaps this is to the credit of a better director?

Chase Burns

My favorite vampire gets hot and bothered.

Even with all these improvements the episode still had several problems, the first of which is the introduction of Charlotte, the girl vampire who is Marcus’ superior.  Evil little children are nothing new; we’ve seen them done better in Children of the Corn, Village of the Damned, Pet Semetary, The Omen, and so many others.  And as far as evil vampire little girls, this is coming perhaps a decade too late after the theatrical adaptation of Interview with the Vampire where Kirsten Dunst stole the evil from Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt.  And sadly the little girl who plays Charlotte is no Kirsten Dust; she is wooden and her performance comes off not as powerful but petulant.  Between the hackneyed concept and the poor acting, this is a major misstep.

Another problem with this episode is the death of Chase.  I see how this could be considered a plus; killing major characters to keep the audience off their toes is a staple of such shows as Heroes, Lost, and The Sopranos.  But Chase was one of the most malevolently fun characters in the series and her death is a major loss.  More, it feels like her death was extraneous and unfulfilling.  She doesn’t get the glory of dying in a fight, nor is she even Blade’s target.  She’s collateral damage in an explosion she’s too inept to escape.  If Chase had to go, I would have liked it to be earned.  (Note: I learn later I fell for it, Chase survived this.  Kudos to the writers for fooling me)

Blade in the Airport

Do you think Blade pays for a checked bag or just carry-on? Does he read on the flight? Play on the Game Boy? These are questions I should not be asking.

And in the most head scratching moment, Blade flies to Berlin and we see him in the airport.  Does he fly coach?  Does he check his glaive? He’s given a cache of weapons by a Berlin airport security officer who seems to know of his reputation, but what if she didn’t?  The entire thought of Blade traveling internationally does not hold up.  We should have skipped that scene and just had Blade somehow arrive in Berlin; showing him travel raises questions better left unanswered.

Still, if I’m bothered by these things, it means the show has finally engaged me with its action and intrigue.  While I don’t like the little girl vampire, I am interested in Marcus’ fight with the purebloods and the strange dead fetus in Vanessa’s belly.

More, I think I’ve figured out two things – first, I think Marcus is going to use the vaccine to inoculate the purebloods only to have them be killed, giving Marcus rule of the House.  Second, I wonder if the vaccine Marcus is working on is the creation of half-vampire daywalkers.  After all, the creation of Blade came when his pregnant mother was turned into a vampire, and now we have pregnant women carrying dead babies that I presume will be vampires…an army of evil daywalkers could be quite the coup, though I know the series will not last the 18 years needed for the infants to come of age.

On to Episode 6.

You can hear Arnie, Jakob, and Stuart review all the Blade films on the Now Playing podcast!

Read Arnie’s other Blade TV Series reviews:

1 Pilot
2 Death Goes On
3 Descent
4 Bloodlines
5 The Evil Within
6 Delivery
7 Sacrifice
8 Turn of the Screw
9 Angels and Demons
10 Hunters
11 Monsters
12 Conclave


September 4, 2011 Posted by | Blade - The TV Series, Comic Books, Reviews, Television | , , , | 8 Comments

Blade: The Series – Season 1, Episode 4: Bloodlines

Original Air Date: July 19, 2006
Director: Felix Enriquez Alcala

Warning: the following review contains spoilers for this and the previous episodes of Blade: The Series.  You can watch this episode free at

Blade and Steppin' Razor

There seems to be some Bad Blood between Blade and his old friend Steppin' Razor

With episode four of the Blade series we are given yet another episode of Blade that serves to deepen the characters’ backstory in the least interesting manner possible.

Now that I am one-third through the entire Blade run, I’ve come to a conclusion on where I sit with this series–it’s not good but it has potential, and some aspects of the show  I like well enough to keep coming back for more.  There are many television series that I’ve watched which fall into this category, some of which come to mind are True Blood, Smallville, Heroes, and the latest incarnation of V.  All of those were series that I watched religiously, but to which I never devoted my full attention, often keeping them on while I do other things, paying the show only half of my attention until a big moment occurs.

So given this, I can say that were I not watching this for Now Playing, had I just caught Blade when it was first run on Spike, I would have watched every episode, but not paid full attention.

However my duties for Now Playing don’t give me the luxury of being halfhearted,  so I watched this fourth episode of Blade giving it 100% of my attention, and not feeling rewarded for my efforts..

In this episode, our multiple storylines continue to progress at a snail’s pace, with the the hunt for cop-cum-vampire Detective Boone heading to the forefront  though Bill Mondy, the actor who portrays Boone, never makes an appearance.  FBI Agent Ray Collins (Larry Poindexter) meets Boone’s former partner Detective Gibbs.  The two search Boone’s apartment and find a book of the House of Armaya, but the text is in German.  Gibbs also delivers all of Boone’s open cases, and Collins notices the open case of Zack Starr, and his missing sister Krista (Jill Wagner).  To be continued I’m sure.

Krista in the house of Leichen

The house of Leichen, gonna make vamps sweat 'til they bleed.

Meanwhile, the House of Chthon is also on the hunt for Boone as the corrupt cop was aware of Project Aurora.  Marcus Van Sciver (Neil Jackson), the man in charge of the Aurora vaccine, asks Chase (Jessica Gower) to take Krista to the House of Leichen – a group of mystical vampires that have sworn off human blood.  The Leichens have what is described as the vampire version of a sweat lodge –  which allows bloodsuckers locate the whereabouts of the people they’ve turned.  Marcus hopes Krista can find Boone (whom she bit in the pilot) in this way.

Performing the ritual is Fredrick, Chase’s ex-husband.  Chase’s past marriage was mentioned in two of the first three episodes, so seeing him was no surprise.  What was a surprise was that he seems to be a nice vampire, warning Krista that Chase knows of Krista’s attachment to her former self.

But while both those plotlines have some motion this episode, there is no resolution and, for once, the focus of the episode is on Blade (Kirk “Sticky Fingaz” Jones) himself.

The episode opens exactly where the last one ended: Blade storming the obstetrician’s office.  However that plot is quickly (ahem) aborted as Dr. Vonner commits suicide as soon as Blade enters his office.

But as Blade leaves, he is hit by a truck and taken hostage by Reverend Carlyle and three unknown vampires.  Carlyle believes these vampires only want Blade’s serum, and he hopes they will also be able to convince Blade to stop helping ash dealers like Cain.  But the Reverend should know better than to trust three strange vampires, as we see they were only using the Reverend to capture Blade, and once that’s accomplished the vamps quickly kill the Reverend and reveal they don’t care about the serum–the vampires have a personal beef against Blade, for he is their sire.

We learn quite a bit about Blade’s past here.  As a child in the 70’s Blade was hungry and lost and came upon a street gang called the Bad Bloods.  The Bloods took Blade in, but in his hunger he fed on the gang members, turning them all into vampires.  The Bad Bloods became a gang of vampires terrorizing Detroit, feeding on their enemies and innocents alike.  In a bit of a revelation for Blade, we are also finally told the origin of Blade’s trademark tattoos–they are the markings of the Bad Bloods and all the members have them.

Shen in action

Shen finally gets out of the lair as he has to rescue Blade with this special gun that shoots serum instead of bullets. I don't see a lot of use for that gun, but lucky he had it lying around.

Years later Whistler found Blade and separated the daywalker from the gangs.  But as Blade’s legend grew in the vampire community, all twelve houses began hunting and killing any vampires sired by Blade.  These three Bad Bloods are presumably all that remain alive, and Blood leader Steppin’ Razor  (Bokeem Woodbine) hopes that he can trade Blade to Marcus in exchange for the surviving Bloods being made members of the House of Chthon.

Marcus reluctantly agrees to the deal but before Blade can be delivered he is rescued by Shen, who spent the episode tracking the Bad Bloods.  Shen injects Blade with his needed serum and Blade dusts two of the vampires, though Steppin’ Razor manages to escape.

This plotline had a lot going for it.  We learned a lot more about Blade, why he has his tattoos, and more of what happened to the daywalker before he was found by Whistler.  The story also gives Shen a chance to shine and actually leave the lair and engage in some detecting and some action as he sleuths out who kidnapped Blade, why, and where he is being held.

That said, while I did wonder about Blade’s tattoos, finding out they are gang markings is somewhat unfulfilling.  I had hoped there would be a vampire origin, or mystical origin, to his tattoos, similar to Harry D’Amour for those familiar with Clive Barker’s works.  Instead, they are just gang symbols, and human gang symbols at that.  What a letdown!

Also, while we learned a lot about our hero, there was just too much angst between the Bad Bloods and Blade.  Instead of rage and vengeance, Steppin’ Razor spends too many scenes talking about how they were wronged by Blade, or talking about how they planned their vengeance.  Instead of coming across as dangerous and unpredictable these speeches just make Razor seem like he is all talk.  Because of the poor writing and worse performance by Woodbine, I just wished for things to move along at a faster pace–a feeling that I could apply to this entire series.

A Bad Blood gets ashed

SyFy called. They want their original movies' special effects back.

And when Shen finally broke Blade loose for our few seconds of action this episode, I was struck by the worst effects I’ve seen since perhaps the original pilot.  Just after I praised Blade’s production values last episode, this time I am treated to uncomfortably close camera angles, and special effects that look like they were made on someone’s home Amiga for YouTube.

If the dusting effects weren’t bad enough, this is also the first episode without a gratuitous “titty shot”.  We do get to see the bare ass of Krista’s stunt double as she enters the pool of blood buck naked, but obviously actress Jill Wagner is above showing her breasts for a cable TV show.  And to that I say, good for you girl!  You may not be able to act worth a damn, but this show doesn’t deserve your nipples.  Good for you for recognizing this series for what it is and not allowing your morals to be bent for this.

Still, for all my gripes, my favorite character remains Boone and I hope he makes his way back to Detroit quickly, and with Steppin’ Razor now out there to make things worse for Blade I continue to hope this series may find its footing.  So while I’m not happy with the series, I continue to watch.

You can hear Arnie, Jakob, and Stuart review all the Blade films on the Now Playing podcast!

Read Arnie’s other Blade TV Series reviews:

1 Pilot
2 Death Goes On
3 Descent
4 Bloodlines
5 The Evil Within
6 Delivery
7 Sacrifice
8 Turn of the Screw
9 Angels and Demons
10 Hunters
11 Monsters
12 Conclave


September 3, 2011 Posted by | Blade - The TV Series, Comic Books, Reviews, Television | , , , | 9 Comments

Blade: The Series – Season 1, Episode 3: Descent

Original Air Date: July 12, 2006
Director: Jon Fawcett

Blade Ep 3 - Descent


Warning: the following review contains spoilers for this and the previous episodes of Blade: The Series.  You can watch this episode free at

Before I get into this episode’s plot and my thoughts on the continuing series, I want to take a moment to comment on the cinematography of this series.  During the director’s and producer’s commentary for Blade’s pilot episode, they kept discussing the digital high def cameras used for filming the series and I didn’t see the big deal.  They talked about how they could work with existing light, and I didn’t care; I thought they were just talking about cost savings when they should have been focused on character and story.  But in this episode I saw some really great looking use of light, color, and grain (yes, grain in a digital recorder).  I loved the “grim and gritty” look of this series, and the selective use of light really worked for it.  Perhaps it took a handful of episodes for the lighting and camera teams to really understand the power of this camera, perhaps this episode just had a more artistic cinematographer, but in this episode I thought it was one of the better shot things I’d seen lately.  For TV it’s astounding, and even for a film it would have been very well done.

That plus the par-for-television effects give this series some very good production values, which is something I hadn’t commented on before as only in this episode was I really impressed by the series’ technical aspects.

That said, on to today’s episode:  Descent.

Chase after feeding

Chase is quite fetching in her disguise for luring in recovering addicts. But is she okay to drive if she's always sucking on drunks?

Krista Starr (Jill Wagner) is recovering from her wound suffered in the last episode, which is healing slower than usual due to her refusal to eat human blood.  Chase (Jessica Gower) takes her out for a night on the prowl, feeding on some hapless AA members.

Krista is also tasked by Blade (Kirk “Sticky Fingaz” Jones) to get a vial of Aurora, the vaccine that makes vampires immune to damage by the usual methods, though it is under lock and key and Krista tries several times unsuccessfully to obtain a sample.

Finally, Krista is tasked by Marcus (Neil Jackson in his only appearance this episode) to deliver a package to a wedding. We are never shown the package’s contents, obviously setting up a larger plot later.  The recipient, a waitress named Vanessa (Sonja Bennett), tells Krista to “thank the doctor” for her.

Blade, meanwhile, has finally tracked down last episode’s target, the ash dealer Cain (Caprica‘s Ryan Kennedy) and grills him for information.  Cain reveals he was the familiar of a vampire named Sands who had been taken hostage and undergone some involuntary experimentation, possibly related to Aurora.

Collins and the ashed tooth

I had never considered what happens to an amputated piece of a vampire when exposed to sunlight, but I suppose it makes sense that it turns to ash, even if it is a tooth.

Once they’ve captured the vampire, Blade, Sands, and Blade’s weaponsmith Shen (Nelson Lee) return to the secret lab where Sands was captive.  There they find several other vampires that were with Shen still trapped in the lab.  While dusting the vamps, Blade finds a scalpel left in one vampire’s body, and Shen is able to track that scalpel to the office of a local doctor.  Blade barges in, expecting a major fight, but finds himself in the office of a gynecologist with a waiting room full of pregnant women.

Finally this episode also focuses on the exploits of crooked-cop-cum-vampire Boone (Bill Mondy), who’s murders in Kansas have garnered the attention of FBI Agent Ray Collins (Larry Poindexter).  Collins discovers Boone’s yanked fang at the murder of a police officer, and matches the fang to a hole in the bag of the burned-out truck from which Boone escaped at the start of the previous episode.  Prints from the truck track to Det. Boone, and Collins watches as the fang dissolves to ash in the sunlight.

In addition to moving the plot along, this episode starts to explore our characters as well.  Blade’s Machiavellian moral ambiguity is explored as Blade endorses the exploits of ash dealer Cain, seeing Cain’s selling of ash (and, thus, creating amputee junkies) as the lesser of two evils when put up against a race of beings that feed on humans.  But despite approving of Cain’s methods, Blade steals some of Cain’s drug money to give to Reverend Carlyle (William MacDonald) who is not a true Reverend but gave himself the title after feeling a calling to help ash addicts.  Carlyle and Blade’s clash over Blade allowing Cain to go free does show that Blade’s methods, while effective, leave many humans to suffer and die in the crossfire of his war on vampires.

Krista examines her wound

The wound Krista sustained last episode is quickly explained away and forgotten.

While I did enjoy the focus on Blade and his methods, this episode was a mixture of character-piece and filler.  Truthfully, despite my paragraphs above, when the episode ended it felt as if nothing had really happened. Such is the case with television series; sometimes entire episodes are used to get the characters where they need to be for the next episode. Additionally, sometimes budget is such that episodes need to focus more on characters and less on effects and fights.  The result is an episode such as this one, which simply treads water, slightly escalating the situation while really not changing anything.

Were it not for the introduction of Collins, who I’m sure will be a major player later, and perhaps Sands, who lived and thus may return, I would call this episode “useless”.  As it is, while Descent helped to deepen the world Blade, it could barely hold my interest.

Again, it’s virtually impossible to judge a serialized TV series on an episode-by-episode basis.  If the series continues to deliver episodes like this one then it is slipping deep into Not Recommend territory as it simply doesn’t have characters compelling enough to make up for the lack of action; put another way, the series is dull.  But that said, if there is payoff later, it was nice to get to know our main characters a bit better, so I remain optimistic as I enter into Episode 4.

And perhaps best, I still am curious where this is all going and how it will all pay off.  I am excited to watch episode 4, though I’ve not really enjoyed episodes 2 or 3 very much.

You can hear Arnie, Jakob, and Stuart review all the Blade films on the Now Playing podcast!

Read Arnie’s other Blade TV Series reviews:

1 Pilot
2 Death Goes On
3 Descent
4 Bloodlines
5 The Evil Within
6 Delivery
7 Sacrifice
8 Turn of the Screw
9 Angels and Demons
10 Hunters
11 Monsters
12 Conclave


September 2, 2011 Posted by | Blade - The TV Series, Comic Books, Reviews, Television | , , , | 8 Comments

Blade: The Series – Season 1, Episode 2: Death Goes On

Blade S1E2

Jones and Wagner compete this episode to see who can give the most one-note performance.

Original Air Date: July 5, 2006
Director: David Simkins


Warning: the following review contains spoilers for this and the previous episodes of Blade: The Series.  You can watch this episode free at

The second episode of the Blade series continues every storyline from the pilot episode, while also introducing many new characters and twists to deepen the plot.

Crooked cop-cum-vampire Det. Boone (Bill Mondy) escapes his shrink-wrapped cage and dusts his fellow captives, on his way back to Detroit to get revenge on high-ranking House of Chthon Vampire Marcus Van Sciver (Neil Jackson), setting up what is sure to be a major showdown later in the series.

Meanwhile, Krista Starr (Jill Wagner) continues to deal with her transformation into a vampire, secretly using Blade’s serum to unsuccessfully quell her vampiric thirst, and her hunger causes her to even dream of feeding on her own mother.  She is both Marcus’ captive and object of desire, as her charismatic maker continues to try to seduce Krista to the dark side.  But Krista continues to play both sides by acting as Blade’s spy, secretly digging deeper into Marcus’ operations and learning of Aurora – the vaccine that makes a vampire impervious to garlic and sunlight.

Vampire Krista

Is it still an Elektra complex if Krista wants to eat her mother?

The Aurora project is in upheaval due to Blade’s interference last episode.  We are introduced to Winston Haupt (Adrian Hough), a leading member of the House of Chthon, when he arrives to ensure Marcus pulls up roots and moves the Aurora experiment from Detroit to the west coast.

As for our titular hero (played by Kirk “Sticky Fingaz” Jones), he is perplexed by his fight with Fritz, the seemingly invulnerable vampire he fought in the pilot.  To investigate how Fritz could be unaffected by garlic and silver, Blade starts hunting down a group of ash-addicts who snort vampire ash to get high.  His investigation leads to an ash dealer named Cain.

Marcus is also seeking Cain.  Cain’s methods of harvesting his product include trapping and murdering vampires, including Winston.  As Marcus looks into Winston’s murder, the trail leads straight to the ash lord.

The climax of the episode comes at Cain’s ash lab–Marcus’ other favorite female vampire Chase (Jessica Gower) is leading a group of vampires, including war-trained Krista, to take out Cain, while Blade has been following one of Caine’s addicts to the lab.  But Cain is one step ahead of Blade, and detonates a bomb in his evacuated lab that kills all of Marcus’ vampire troops except Krista and Chase.

But as Blade is about to finish Chase off, Fritz ignores his orders to stay hidden and crashes a car into the Ash lab, itching for a rematch against the daywalker.  During the fight, Krista’s loyalties are tested.  Blade needs to capture Fritz to study Aurora, but Chase orders her to kill Fritz to keep Aurora’s secrets.  Krista chooses her cover over the information and beheads Fritz, falling on a stake and severely injuring herself in the process.Krista Ashes Fritz

The episode moves along quickly and the rematch between Blade and Fritz is welcome, though the fighting is still quick-cut and poorly choreographed.  It also falls prey to WWE conventions as, for no reason I can fathom, there is a large wire-mesh cage in Cain’s lab, allowing Blade and Fritz to literally have a cage match.

I’m starting to accept Sticky Fingaz more as Blade and I’m actually coming to like Marcus as the charismatic vampire leader.  But Krista’s one-note character, matched by an equally one-note actress, grates on me and makes me have no sympathy for the she-devil.  Several times I wished Chase would just give into her jealousy and stake Krista.

I do like the character of Boone and welcome his return to Detroit.  The actor’s energy really is a great wild card in the series, and his inventive self-mutilation by pulling out his own fang to cut through his body bag and free himself was very well thought out.

And the overall series plot is being revealed as knotted and intricate, and it has my full interest, despite seeming to be a retread of the reaper story in concept.  The House of Chthon is appearing to me like a mob family, and I’m enjoying the internal power struggles as the layers are peeled back for the audience.

The dialogue is also improving, as some lines this episode got a genuine laugh from me, such as when Winston goes to see Mina, a woman who sells vampires to humans as food.  Mina offers up a blonde from Illinois and we get this exchange:

Detective Boone

Boone is the most interesting character in this series, so it's a shame he only bookends this episode.

Winston: Carpet matches drapes?

Mina: Hardwood floor.

Winston: (Sarcastically) Kids.

But while the dialogue and overall story seem strong, the pacing is off.  We are being introduced to characters that seem important, such as Mina and Wiston, just to have them die 10 minutes later.  The writers do a poor job of telling us which characters are important and which are merely storytelling devices, and that is a problem.

Also, with the exception of the end fight, the episode is lacking in action.  Instead of the exciting and entertaining wire-fu we got in the Blade films, Blade the TV series is a soap opera for the testosterone set.

While I remain interested, I am by no means enthralled.  Two episodes in, the series is a weak recommend for Blade fans, a not recommend for everyone else.

You can hear Arnie, Jakob, and Stuart review all the Blade films on the Now Playing podcast!

Read Arnie’s other Blade TV Series reviews:

1 Pilot
2 Death Goes On
3 Descent
4 Bloodlines
5 The Evil Within
6 Delivery
7 Sacrifice
8 Turn of the Screw
9 Angels and Demons
10 Hunters
11 Monsters
12 Conclave


September 2, 2011 Posted by | Blade - The TV Series, Comic Books, Reviews, Television | , , , | 8 Comments

Blade: The Series – Season 1, Episode 1: Pilot (The House of Chthon)

Original Air Date: June 28, 2006
Director: Peter O’Fallon

Warning: the following review contains spoilers for this and the previous episodes of Blade: The Series.  You can watch this episode free at

The pilot episode of the Blade series has been released as a movie on DVD three times.  The first was right after the series was canceled, released alone as Blade: House of Chthon.  Then it was included as part of the Blade TV Series box set.  Now it is available as part of a Blade 4 Movie DVD Pack where you get the three theatrical films, as well as Blade: House of Chthon.

As such, it was given serious consideration for inclusion as part of the Now Playing Blade Retrospective Series.  While we normally shy away from TV movies, we did delve into some for Marvel and have more on the horizon, so this would be natural for inclusion.

But then I watched Blade: House of Chthon and I must say to all the folks who work at New Line/Warner Bros. marketing: shame on you!  How dare you pass this off as a self-contained film?  And more importantly, how dare you release it not once but twice as a stand-alone film and not give the rest of the series?

I want to make it clear right now — Blade: House of Chthon is not in any way, shape, or form a self-contained story.  When I sat down to watch it, I sat down intending to see a movie that would stand alone.  This does not!

Screenwriter David Goyer is the man I credit the most for bringing Blade to the big screen.  While directors rotated in and out of the franchise, Goyer was a constant who produced many drafts of each film and even stepped into the director’s chair for final installment Blade: Trinity.  He is also the one responsible for bringing Blade to television, bringing on his friend and writing companion Geoff Johns to help with the writing duties.

Despite his work on the Nick Fury film, I think Goyer is a gifted writer with a knack for genre films.  I’ll cover the Blade films more extensively over at Now Playing, but let me say I was excited to see Goyer’s name attached to the TV spin-off and hoped that meant a continuation of the quality we’d gotten on the big screen.  But in writing this pilot, Goyer was very smart — he knew that this Blade was a TV series, and what we have with Blade: House of Chthon is a pilot for a TV series, not a movie.

Jill Wagner is Krista Starr

Wagner plays new heroine Krista Starr, who seems to have only one emotion--petulance

Why do I keep hammering that distinction?  It’s very simple:  If you go to a Blade movie, you obviously want to see Blade.  Sure, in Blade: Trinity you may have gotten a bit too much of the Nightstalkers, but Blade was still the driving, central force.  In Blade: House of Chthon, the star is Krista Starr, played by current Teen Wolf star and Wipeout host Jill Wagner.  Krista is a Iraq war veteran who returned home to Detroit after her twin brother was murdered.  When the cops seem unwilling to investigate, Krista takes it on herself to find out what happened, and she discovers her brother was a Familiar to Marcus Van Sciver – a wealthy and charismatic vampire whose public face is that of a real estate developer helping to reinvigorate Detroit.

Also after Marcus is Blade, and his new weapons-maker Shen.  But this is really secondary to introducing us to Krista – her family, her motivations, and her induction to the House of Chthon by Marcus.  We get to watch Krista as she takes that familiar journey of going from “there’s no such thing as vampires” to accepting them, and discovering her brother’s role in their organization–a role that ultimately got him killed.

Unfortunately Wagner’s acting here is one-note and bland.  I’m not sure if it’s the actress or the script, but Krista is given one note to play, and she plays it repeatedly.  Whether arguing with corrupt cop Boone, rebelling against Blade, or fighting with Marcus, Wagner has a permanent sneer on her face and, despite her character’s supposed military background, she carries herself with all the menace of a beauty queen who’s lost her lipstick.

Randy Quaid - Vampire Expert

You know what the Bible says about movie stars taking bit parts in TV pilots? It's against it.

But Wagner is given one priceless scene when she seeks out info from local vampire expert Professor Melvin Caylo, played by erstwhile Uncle Eddie, Randy Quaid.  Quaid was almost unrecognizable in this role, looking a bit more puffy than I’m used to seeing him, and I wonder if perhaps he was just in Vancouver looking for an apartment should he ever need to flee the US when the call came up to cameo in this pilot.

But in the end, this pilot does exactly what it should–it introduces us to new characters, as well as setting up ongoing conflicts such as Marcus’ right-hand-woman Chase who is both jealous of Krista’s new place as Marcus’ favorite vampire, and also perhaps has an eye on Marcus’ position in the house.  We also meet Detective Boone, a crooked cop who is betrayed by Marcus and turned into a vampire.  And thus begins a story that will be played out over the course of the entire TV season.

In addition, this episode teases us with Marcus’ plans to engineer a vaccine that makes vampires impervious to their weaknesses, such as sunlight and garlic.  While a good hook, it seems to be a crutch that Goyer leans on a bit too often as this was the primary plot of Blade II and a more minor plot point in Blade: Trinity.  Yet it seems Marcus believes he is the first to try and create such a super-Vampire.  A reference or two to the reapers to tell us Goyer knows we’ve seen this before would have been nice. Instead it just feels like a weak retread of old plots.

And it seems Goyer is not just stealing from his own old script ideas, this pilot also sets up that vampire ash is a new street drug, which basically turns humans into Blade, having the strengths of a vampire.  This seems stolen directly from Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse Novel series, in this case replacing blood for ash, though Goyer does also give ash users a thirst for blood which causes many to eat their own fingers.

Sticky Fingaz as Blade

Kirk Jones may have "Sticky Fingaz" but he does not steal the show with his portrayal of Blade.

But with all of this, where is Blade?  Played now by Kirk “Sticky Fingaz” Jones (and I don’t want to know how he got that nickname), Blade is a virtual non-entity in this pilot.  The opening in which Blade gets to rough up a couple people in poorly-choreographed fight scenes was tacked on in post production, producers perhaps realizing there was no Blade in this Blade series.  Blade cameos from time to time – coaxing Krista to spy on the House of Chthon or engaging in the poorly staged climactic fight.  But any fan of the character is bound to be disappointed by how little their daywalker hero is featured in this first episode.

Jones, inheriting the character from Wesley Snipes, does about as much with the character as Snipes did–a lot of glowering and not much true acting.  But without Snipes’ blackbelt to back him up the only battle this Blade might win is a rap battle, so we are left with quick-cut poor action when we get Blade at all.

So do I recommend this Blade TV pilot?  My initial reaction to it was “absolutely not, this is awful” but that reaction was based on false expectations.  From the marketing I expected this to be a self-contained Blade movie, similar to so many two hour TV movies that eventually become series, like the original Incredible Hulk pilot or the pilot to Knight Rider.  But having had time to digest and, yes, watched this again with those expectations reset, I say that it’s impossible to give this a ranking as it’s two hours of a 12-hour saga.  I certainly don’t recommend this as a stand-alone movie, do not watch this if you never intend to watch the rest of the series, but as a single installment in the series?

Well I guess I’ll have to watch the rest of the series to see if it pays off, because given the structure of this pilot it’s all or nothing; the pilot does not work as a movie.

You can hear Arnie, Jakob, and Stuart review all the Blade films on the Now Playing podcast!

Read Arnie’s other Blade TV Series reviews:

1 Pilot
2 Death Goes On
3 Descent
4 Bloodlines
5 The Evil Within
6 Delivery
7 Sacrifice
8 Turn of the Screw
9 Angels and Demons
10 Hunters
11 Monsters
12 Conclave


September 1, 2011 Posted by | Blade - The TV Series, Comic Books, Reviews, Television | , , , | 16 Comments

Introduction to the House of Chthon

On Now Playing, the movie review podcast, Jakob, Stuart, and I are reviewing the three theatrical Blade films.  However, several people have expressed interest in the supposed “fourth Blade movie”, Blade – The House of Chthon.

Blade House of Chthon DVD Cover

Despite all appearances, this was never intended to be a movie.

Truth be told, there is no fourth Blade film.

The confusion is completely understandable.  In 2007 Warner Bros. released the pilot to the Blade television series on home video, and as the series was already cancelled they named the DVD Blade – The House of Chthon.  Later, as part of a series of “value bundle” DVDs, a DVD was released claiming it contained “4 Film Favorites”:  Blade, Blade II, Blade: Trinity, and Blade – The House of Chthon.

But despite clever marketing, what is being billed as House of Chthon is not a movie, nor was it ever intended to be a standalone film.  The video was developed with the title “Pilot”, the customary title to the first episode of most television series.  Pilots are usually filmed prior to shows having been picked up by networks.  In the case of Blade, the pilot convinced Spike TV to order 11 more episodes.

In years past pilot episodes for one-hour adventure shows could be considered self-contained movies.  The pilot episodes for Knight Rider, The A-Team, and even Star Trek: The Next Generation served as both, giving audiences a self-contained story while introducing new characters and new situations which can continue into future episodes.  The presumed pilot for the Generation X TV series, a movie that aired once on the Fox network, also falls into this category.

In the past twenty years however, television has changed and stand-alone, episodic television has been replaced with serialized stories–for example, compare The Incredible Hulk, where every episode stood alone with David Banner in a new town, to Lost, which built upon its own mythology to the point new viewers had difficulty understanding what was going on.

But the pilot episode for Blade, and the entire Blade series, falls more into the latter category–a serialized action-drama with a single story arc that encompasses all 12 episodes.

As such, there is no way for Now Playing to review the first episode of this TV series without watching all twelve episodes.  But starting later today you will be able to read my reviews of all twelve Blade episodes, posted one per day, here at the Venganza Media Gazette.

Want to watch?  You can watch the entire Blade series free at

Read Arnie’s individual Blade TV Series reviews:

1 Pilot
2 Death Goes On
3 Descent
4 Bloodlines
5 The Evil Within
6 Delivery
7 Sacrifice
8 Turn of the Screw
9 Angels and Demons
10 Hunters
11 Monsters
12 Conclave

August 31, 2011 Posted by | Blade - The TV Series, Reviews, Television | , , , | 14 Comments