I spent a lovely couple of days this past weekend at The Convention Formerly Known as Toronto Trek, a.k.a. ‘Polaris’. Just for the record, if anyone thought this rebranding was an indication that this convention was no longer the very acme of geekdom, they would have been immediately disabused of this notion upon encountering the Kingon handfasting in the lobby on Saturday.
Despite what my parents and sister think, I consider myself only a minor geek. I read some science fiction and fantasy, but only rarely. I don’t read comic books, or even graphic novels. I do not dress up as characters from my favourite movies or TV shows, although I did borrow my husband’s lab coat with the Dharma patch because I was chilly. I do not wear a tail, or vampire teeth, and the only 'collectible figurine' I own is my Buddy Christ. 'Cause that's cool.
I do love my genre films and TV shows. I also love Canadian TV, which is why I’ve been anxiously waiting to see ‘Blood Ties’, the new show based on Tanya Huff’s series of vampire / P.I. novels set in Toronto. I haven’t actually read any of the books yet, but I have been following scriptwriter Denis McGrath’s blog posts on the production and the show sounded intriguing.
On Saturday I got to attend the Canadian premiere of the first two episodes, which were followed by a Q&A with Tanya and showrunner Peter Mohan. Mr. McGrath didn’t attend, which is just as well since I spotted a group of fanfic writers roaming the halls with torches and pitchforks shouting his name.
‘Blood Ties’ is fantastic. Comparisons can and have been made to other shows, but the characters are so strong and complex and the writing so sharp that the show stands firmly on it’s own as a unique take on the vampire genre. Vicki Nelson, the kick-ass cop-turned-private investigator (Christina Cox) is perfectly cast - beautiful without being overly ‘pretty’, mature, tough, flawed and funny. In fact, Tanya mentioned later that when she first wrote the novels ten years ago, she had mentally cast Cox as Vicki based on her work in 'F/X: The Series' - only thinking of her ten years older.
As for Kyle Schmid as Henry Fitzroy…
Oh. My. Gods.
There was actually an audible gasp from the women in the audience the first time he appeared on screen. And he’s not just gorgeous - he smart and intense and witty enough to more than hold his own against Vicki.
If they play their cards right, this show has the potential to be huge.
The Q&A offered some intriguing insights into the problems involved in Canadian television production. One person asked why, since the novels and the series are specifically set in Toronto, the vast bulk of the shooting was done in B.C. The answer? Money. Toronto just doesn’t come close to offering the kinds of financial and tax incentives that B.C. does, and they simply couldn’t afford to shoot here except for some second unit exteriors and file footage of the CN Tower.
One question that nobody dared ask was what effect the recent sale and split-up of CityTV and Space to might have on the show’s future. The series was initially sold to Lifetime in the U.S. (also sad), which is currently airing the first season. It was then picked up by CityTV to be aired this fall, and was supposed to have been given a secondary window on Space. Now that plan is probably in the crapper, and while CityTV is still committed to the first season they bought, it’s anyone’s guess as to whether their new corporate overlords will want to pick up a second season.
Keep your fingers crossed.