If you liked the kickboxing in TV’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” but could do without all the witty plotting, rich characterization and comic acumen, “Blade: The Series” might be the series for you.
On the day the cinemas welcome the superb “Superman Returns”, the little screen brings us another returning comic-book superhero. “Blade: The Series,” based on the Marvel comic about a half-vampire vampire slayer, was created by David Goyer, the fellow who wrote the first two “Blade” movies, then wrote and directed the even shittier third. Goyer also created CBS' monstrously inept (and quickly cancelled) extraterrestrial saga "Threshold."
Those who thought a Marvel superhero series could never produce characters as listless and uninspired as those populating “Mutant X” could find themselves unpleasantly surprised.
A TV-size budget - and a grunty rap artist named Kirk “Sticky Fingaz” Jones pinch-staking for Wesley Snipes - do this wobbly franchise no favors. It’s pretty dull going, and shockingly so for a show about fight-happy Detroit-dwellers with superpowers.
One key flaw is the pilot insists on treating its audience as if “Lost Boys,” “Near Dark,” “Salem’s Lot,” “From Dusk Till Dawn,” “Buffy” and “Angel” were never televised in the United States. The mystery plot is pokey and clichÃ©-happy. (The hour’s biggest surprise arrives not with a story or character reveal, but when the heroine greets a bit of low-rent mayhem with an unbleeped exclamation of “Holy shit!”) The jokes – if you dare call them that – are uniformly terrible. Some of the leads are pretty - but challenged when called upon to emote. Randy Quaid – playing an obligatory vampire expert considerably less expertly than did Anthony Stewart Head - isn’t as hideously miscast here as he was in “Pluto Nash,” but he’s improbably close.
You’d think a channel that calls itself “Spike” might know better.
But what matters Herc’s opinion?
The Hollywood Reporter says:
… In its two-hour launch, "Blade" shows itself to be less driven by plot than a series of violent, revenge-driven, oft-graphic confrontations. We can expect 11 more weeks of the same, no doubt, which is just dandy for comic book vampire fans and must-flee TV for the rest of us.…
TV Guide says:
… Normally I'm a sucker for a good bloodsucker, but I've seen paper cuts go deeper than Blade, the toothless new TV version of the comic-book-turned-film franchise … Where Buffy the Vampire Slayer took a mediocre film and elevated it to TV art, Blade doesn't even try to improve on the loud, flashily hollow movies. It's just more of the same martial artlessness. I kept expecting to see Batman-style OOF! BAM! graphics on screen. …
The New York Times says:
… surprisingly inoffensive … Blade, whose mission is to prevent a vampire takeover of the world, is an expressionless, no-nonsense hero with body-builder arms and a big, bad Harley Davidson. He enjoys blunt, terse communication, as in "Know what happens next?" and "Tell me what I want to know," often followed by extreme violence.
The Los Angeles Times says:
… pretty good, really, as these things go. … It's not as pop-culturally knowing as "Buffy," which some might account a good thing, but the action is active and the suspense fairly suspenseful. (There's a little too much slo-mo for my taste, but that is just the price of watching an action show in 2006.) …
… For a series named "Blade" on a channel called Spike, basic cable's latest drama is surprisingly lacking in edge. … the pilot has little suspense and not a hint of the humor and humanity that made hits of "Buffy" and "Angel." Only Nelson Lee ("Oz," "Traffic"), as Blade's tech-wizard buddy, Shen, and Randy Quaid, as a professorial type, display much life. And Quaid's just a guest star. Visually, the pilot is so dark it's sometimes hard to figure out what's happening. Repellent as Marcus is, his silver-blond hair at least provides a relief from the gloom. Of minor hometown interest is the product placement of Harley-Davidson's sleek, midnight-black VRSCD Night Rod motorcycle, Blade's wheels of choice. It has more personality than some of the characters.
The Detroit Free Press says:
… For those keeping score on the gore at home, "Blade: The Series" is a tediously bloody bore. … Those feature films may have been thudding, flashily overwrought nonsense, but they're sophisticated entertainment by comparison to the dreary new TV series … What "Blade: The Series" desperately needs and doesn't have is a playfully dark sense of humor to alleviate the show's relentless onslaught of graphically violent, lowest-common-denominator bloodsucking schlock. And it sure doesn't help that Jones also portrays black-clad Blade with negative flair in a perpetual droning monotone, grunting out such morsels of bad dialogue as, "Sun's down. Time to make some friends." Not with "Blade: The TV Series" he won't.
The Boston Globe says:
Someone ought to mix a shot of liquid Prozac into Blade's magical serum. As played by Kirk ``Sticky" Jones in the series based on the ``Blade" movies, he is one very depressed human-vampire hybrid. It's not just Blade's dark sunglasses and mournful leather coat that give him away; his delivery is so wooden it could kill a vampire for all eternity. … too dreary and weary for its own good. By the middle of the second hour of the long two-hour opener, the tone lightens slightly and the action takes on more narrative drive and purpose. But until then, the road is slow and aimless and so shadowy you'll want to squeegee your eyes. …
The Boston Herald gives it a “C-minus” and says:
… Jones wears the trench coat well, but the stoic hero never has been required to do more than look cool while brandishing a sword. Those thirsting for action will find it in quick, unsatisfying bursts. Many of the stunts are a cross between a low-budget “Matrix” and a Wirework 101 class. The pacing of the two-hour debut is so slow that you will pray for daybreak. Even die-hard “Blade” fans will find little to sink their teeth into.