A Conversation for 'Ultraviolet' - the TV Series
Einy Started conversation Aug 11, 2001
I think two things that also distinguished this series, from vampire tales of recent years, and from science fiction/horror. Firstly, its scientific attitude to it's subject matter, and secondly it's intelligent exploration of the politics surrounding the issue.
The first aspect (the science) had the benfit of making the whole thing not only plausible, but using the myth as a metaphor.
In episode one Jack poses the idea that the organization trying to wipe them out are merely following a tradition in demonising minorities:
He askes his friend Micheal 'Did they tell you I was evil? it's what the church always says. Black, gay, women, disabled, now us.'
This idea briefly touched on in the first episode is developed throughout subsequent episodes. The use of the word 'leech' is tellingly racist as Vaughn, the only character to use it, says it with disgust, prejudice and contempt. In the second episode the girlfriend of a rich vampire calls them 'nazis', who are only running an extermination programme 'because they are different'.
But it's the final episode that explores this idea brilliantly. A very senior vampire captured by the code v squad is talking with the priest about his faith. He asks him when God first revealed himself. As he guesses correctly it was through the vampires. They were the sign by which God showed himself to the Priest, and the vampire argues that the priest needs to believe the vampires are evil:
'You're in something of a logical trap, my friend. You don't understand us, so we must be evil. And if there's evil, there must be God. But if we're not evil, where does that leave you?'
Although this turns out to be probably a mind game typical of the vampires, it opens up a question to the audience. What is the real nature of the conflict between the church and the vampires? It is an ideological war, not a moral one. Even though the final episode concludes that the vampires are evil, they are evil in the terms set down by the code v organisation. The vampire's plan to create a nuclear winter so they can take over is morally justifiable. They are helping protect the planet from human destruction. But it has to be fought, and is rightly seen as evil by the human code v organisation.
The second aspect is the science. Not only is there a respectable, and unusual thoroughness and accuracy, it is also rooted in British science fiction. A tradition from Qautermass, Dr Who, Red Dwarf, Blake's Seven; characterisation.
Most U.S. science fiction is rooted in the special effects, and clearly drawn lines of good and evil. Even The X-Files, which is fairly unique in its strong characterisation, still explores no ambiguity betwen so called good and evil.
Whereas British Science Fiction's greatest asset has always been (particularly on television) it's human drama. Miniscule budgets may have forced their hand, but it is to their benefit. And Ultraviolet never forgets the human aspect.
It's retelling of the vampire myth is in the scientific detail, the motives and personal struggles of all characters, including the vampires. They may be manipulative and arrogant, but they also have emotions and motives for 'crossing over'. This makes Ultraviolet one of the most unique pieces of science fiction in recent years as well as the best vampire story for decades.
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