By October 9, 2006

Blade the Series bites it

I’m sure that I’m the 10,000th person to use that tagline, but the SpikeTV series Blade was cancelled after one season and twelve episodes. The cast and crew are trying to shop around to another network, but with so few ratings points at stake, I doubt it will be picked up.

That’s too bad, because I grew to like the show. The first three episodes were rocky. Krista, the female lead, was lamely patched into the plotline as an ex-American soldier who returned from Iraq after an IED killed most of her convoy. Her brother was working with Blade to uncover some vampire dealings in Detroit, and was killed off in the pilot. Krista gets injected into the story after trying to turn up more information about her brother’s killer. Jill Wagner, the lady who played Krista, had trouble supporting the weak script of the first few episodes. Her performance was wooden, and the dialog heartless.

There were also criticisms of Kirk “Sticky Fingaz” Jones, who played Blade. Jones was a rap star in the 90s rap group Onyx, and while he had Blade’s quiet loner nature down, he lacked Wesley Snipes’s charisma. It’s hard to one-up the man who made “always bet on black” a pleasantly memorable quote instead of a laughable eye-roller. Jones also lacked Snipes’s martial arts training, and as such TV Blade’s fight scenes were more brutal and less elegant than the movie versions.

Weak cast, weak writing, weak plot: by episode three, I was about to give up. I have been known to give shows a second chance, and Blade was no exception. Miraculously, the show rose from the dead, and the plot started to pick up steam. The actors became more comfortable in their roles, and by the midseason I started to fret about the fate of the series. The show made good attempts to explain Blade’s childhood, something absent from the movies. A younger Abraham Whistler is introduced to help Blade’s foster parents deal with raising the Daywalker. The inner workings of the different vampire houses were touched upon, including the mysterious house of Armaya, which was driven away from the rest of the Twelve Houses some time ago. What made the Armayans so despicable among the Twelve Houses may never be explained.

Not everything was great, that’s for sure. I didn’t like how the writers continually changed silver’s effect on vampires. A major meeting occurs during daylight hours, leading the audience to believe that limo tint is enough to fend off the lethal rays of the sun. Thinking back, the movies suffered this same problem — in the first movie, Blade pins a vampire to a wall with two silver stakes that ashed other vampires moments before.

Similar to Deadwood’s Al Swearengen, the series tried to alter the audience’s perception of major villains. Marcus Van Sciver, played by Neil Jackson, transforms from the MU-HA-HA evil vampire genius in the first quarter of the season to a more subtle shade of evil. His backstory is revealed, and by the way he is treated by the “pure blood” vampires you can understand why he has a hidden agenda. I’ve always found that evil is most effectively portrayed when it is seductive and corrupting, and not stark raving bonkers. You could see the wheels turning in Krista’s head, trying to decide if she should continue her mission for Blade or stay with Van Sciver.

Even the supporting cast saw some character development. Van Sciver’s henchlady Chase and Blade’s cohort Shen each had small, but significant story arcs. What I assumed would be throwaway characters, such as an ex-cop turned wild vampire, Krista’s mother, and an FBI field agent who stumbles upon the vampire-human coverup, turned out to have well-thought out arcs of their own. I was impressed with where the series was going, and by the end of the planned twelve episodes, I was very sad to know that Blade the Series was already on the coroner’s slab.

SpikeTV stated they liked how the show was developing, but it wasn’t pulling in enough of their target demographic. I fear that the majority of the people who tuned in for the pilot never stuck around for when the show got around to developing its fangs. While the show’s ratings improved with later episodes, the last nail in the coffin was the lack of young men tuning in to watch. I guess there weren’t enough MySpacers watching the show, and too many balding geeks. Who knows. I appreciate SpikeTV’s business decision, but I can’t help but feel that the show’s cast and story had a very bright outlook.

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2 Comments on "Blade the Series bites it"

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  1. Too bad, your write-up makes me want to watch it.

  2. Bond says:

    No snipes, it sucked. I tried, vampire knows I did, but it just doesn’t work without the original actor.