August 22, 2007 Jill

Blood Ties aired in Canada at long last: mystery, monsters and one very hot vampire who appears shirtless a lot of the time. Excellent.
Blood Price, the pilot episode written by series creator Peter Mohan, is actually two one-hour episodes even though they aired together on Monday night. I know it’s two one-hours because there’s a three minute forty-one second scene at the 42:27 minute mark. That would be the teaser of the second episode. It’s my habit to only break down one-hours, so if you’ll forgive me, I’m going to ignore the second hour and focus my attention on the first.

The show features a short pre-title teaser followed by four acts that time out as follows:

Teaser: 3:08
Act One: 12:39
Act Two: 7:43
Act Three 9:07
Act Four 9:50

First shot: Toronto skyline at night shot from across the water.

This is a premise pilot that sets up the relationship between Vicky Nelson, private investigator and Henry Fitzroy, vampire. We also learn about Vicky’s complicated relationship with her former policing partner, Mike Celluci.

The other main story line in the pilot is the mystery of the week.

In some ways this a familiar form. As in Veronica Mars and Burn Notice, the pilot is divided between a mystery of the week that buttons up nicely and gives us that satisfying episodic feel and the series’ story which will continue and compels us to watch week after week.

But Mohan has an interesting twist on how he approaches both sides of the equation.

On the mystery side, Mohan follows not only the investigation but also the villain. In many mystery series, we see the crimes only from the detective’s p.o.v. Starting right in the second scene of the teaser, we meet Norman, the villain (he’s one of the villains anyway and the guy who calls the evil demon into action). This is great for cranking up the stakes and this storyline provides the scenes for every act breaks except the final curtain on Act Four.

On the premise side of the story, Vicky is introduced to us in the first scene of the teaser. As a result we see her as the central figure in the series and since she’s a former cop turned private detective, we quite naturally follow her into the mystery. And since her ex-partner-ex-beau is the cop investigating the same crime his involvement is also organic.

But the third player — Henry the vampire — is a little trickier to pull into the story. Mohan introduces him in the third scene of act one. Like Vicky, his first scene is purely for character purposes and only in his second scene does he learn of the crime that he too begins to investigate. He’s investigating because the crime looks like it was committed by a vampire and he’s afraid that he’ll be blamed.

By mid-way through Act One, we have two story lines that are independent investigations of the third story which features the crime unfolding. That puts all three on a collision course. There’s Norman and his demon committing evil acts. Vicky in a reluctant partnership with Celluci investigating. And Henry the vampire, investigating the same crimes on his own.

Mohan nimbly holds the collision off until the closing moments of the fourth act when Henry drives the demon away and then Vicky attacks Henry to bring down the final curtain of the episode.

It’s a cool and original structure.

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