Tuesday, March 13, 2007

I'm Not Much of a TV Watcher but...

My new guilty pleasure, which I'm really not feeling so guilty about (I'll get to that in a minute), is the new Canadian-produced show Blood Ties, based on the Blood novels of Tanya Huff. It comes on Lifetime at 10pm Sundays (ME. Watching Lifetime television. Seriously. Hell has frozen over. They are passing out the ice water down there. Pigs are flying overhead. You get the idea.) and you can download the first hour of the show for free on itunes.

Vampire TV is pretty much always a "guilty pleasure" in that reviewers typically feel the need to excuse the fact that it is hocus pocus TV before even discussing the show itself. Buffy fans the world over have been trying to get the general public to understand just how good the dialog really was for, well, roughly a decade now (and Joss Whedon can write. End of story. I'm no goth-vamp fangirl. I made jokes about that show for years until my roommate sat me down and made me watch an episode where a vampire is having difficulty biting a woman and the scene is written with a brilliant, hilarious parallel to male impotence. I was impressed. Never made fun of it again. It was hocus pocus tv AND an intricate human dramedy AND one of the smartest things on television.)

Incidentally, I have this theory about the appeal of the male vampire character. It's the mythical beast every woman is looking for - a man with the body and face of a 20 year old who has the experience and emotional maturity of a much, MUCH older man. Sadly, we're about as likely to find a man like this as we are to locate a unicorn. But that doesn't stop it from being womankind's holy grail. Thus the popularity of the vampire myth with the female audience.

I'm not inclined to go so far as to say that Blood Ties is clever. It's too early to tell and the premier episode did have a few goofy plot devices, but to be fair I think any show needs a few episodes to start to hit it's stride. Online buzz seems to imply that the show will get more complex and dynamic with time. Either way, I don't feel guilty about liking it. It's character driven and I'm a big supporter of role reversal in mass media. Parts written for women that could just have easily been men. It's vital to changing the way we think about gender roles in our society. And here's an interesting, sexy show with a touch of vamp camp that has a very important element - a strong female lead. A strong female lead who is an adult. Her character is an independent, somewhat prickly ex-cop turned private investigator. Which is a classic male tv role. It's been done a million times - by men.

The character even has angst and insecurity about performance based on a physical problem (a degenerative eye condition) that made her quit the police force. She has trust issues and seems to be the avoids-getting-close type. She has sexual tension and a complicated history with her ex-partner (played by the uber masculine Dylan Neal). She's a classic male gumshoe detective. But it's a 30 year old woman. Who is being played by Christina Cox, a 36 year old woman who appears to do some of her own stunts thanks to a background in martial arts. She has a resume that includes the Better Than Chocolate, sort of a modern classic in terms of gay and lesbian film, and - oddly enough - The Chronicles of Riddick. A bit incongruous but evidence that she's an interesting actor. Cox has a very multi-ethnic appearance which is a nice change for a female lead and something I hope we will be seeing more of in television.

On top of everything else, instead of having the May-December (ok, maybe more like May-August) romance be between an older man and a younger woman - the "younger" man is being played by the talented and very attractive 22 year old Kyle Schmid. Sure, his character is supposed to be 450 years old. But this show features an intelligent, independent female character who has two men in her life (both having convincing onscreen chemistry with her), and one of them is being played by a young man more than ten years her junior.

It's about damn time.

Seriously. Worth tuning in for.

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