Vampires are very hot right now -- the bestselling "Twilight" series, the hit TV show "True Blood," and the tragically cancelled "Moonlight."
And one of the better vampire stories to emerge from the crypt is "Blood Ties," a too-brief show based on Tanya Huff's urban fantasy series. The first season has a slightly slow start, but it's a solid action/fantasy series with plenty of sensual romance, gritty crime, and supernatural spookery.
On her way back from a date, PI Vicki Nelson (Christina Cox) sees a caped figure attack and kill a young man -- leaving the body drained of blood. The victim's girlfriend hires Vicki to find the culprit. But as Vicki starts prodding around goth clubs and alleyways, she encounters the mysterious Henry Fitzroy (Kyle Schmid) who is doing his own murder investigation.
Turns out Henry is also a sexy 500-year-old vampire, and the bastard son of Henry VII. Together they have to find a creepy demon-summoner, before something far worse is unleashed. And soon she has to deal with a lot of other supernatural problems, with the help of Henry and her former partner Mike (Dylan Neal), who loathe one another.
Among the problems: voodoo priest and his zombies, a murderous "imaginary friend," a heart-crushing Celtic ghost, a suburban incubi, a man-eating Wendigo, Egyptian gods, a Medusa, a fertility clinic that produces creepy results, the return of creepy demon-summoning dude, and an immortal priest with an unending vendetta against Henry.
"Blood Ties Season One" fits into the same niche as "Moonlight" and "The Dresden Files" -- a detective series with vampires and spooky things, and a human mired in the supernatural. But it's not entirely the same -- "Blood Ties" has a distinctly dark, grimy feel, with lots of pale light, shadowy urban streets and a unique vampire ("I don't have mojo. I have charm!").
It also has a nice murky mystery in each episode, with monsters ranging from notorious (zombies!) to obscure (svartalfar!), tightly wound action scenes and some very sensual bloodsucking. And the writers spin up some lovely dialogue for Vicki and Henry, usually to each other ("It's just a conversation, it's nothing to worry about." "That's what my father said to Anne Boleyn").
And Cox is excellent as Vicki -- tough, strong and capable of handling her own life, but with the vulnerability of a degenerative eye disease. And she's backed by Neal as a skeptical, straight-and-narrow cop who obviously has a thing for Vicki, and Gina Holden as a perky Goth who appoints herself Vicki's new secretary/gofer/research assistant.
And Schmid is the perfect good-guy vampire -- he's devastatingly hot, and he mingles impish charm, sensuality, ferocity and down-to-earth quirkiness ("If this book isn't at the printer's by the end of the month, my editor's gonna kill me... again!"). His most brilliant work is the prolonged torture of "Heart of Fire," especially during Henry's heartrending struggle against his bloodthirst.
"Blood Ties Season One" starts off a little slow, but the solid writing and excellent acting make this one of the better vampire shows to hit TV screens.