Ultraviolet is one of those interesting experiments that occasionally show up on British television. Mostly, I'm a fan of British Comedy; for some reason the really good britcom just hits my funnybone when a lot of more American comedy falls flat. (If you're looking for recommendations, you can't go wrong with BlackAdder or Red Dwarf). But sometimes something that's not a comedy comes along and nevertheless works.

I heard about Ultraviolet by word of mouth. Friends of friends had seen it and declared it wonderful. Nobody had it, but they knew someone who knew someone who had once borrowed it. Eventually, I bought the whole set, sight-unseen, just to see what all the fuss was about. It helps that I got a basic scenario from friends, since I'm a mild vampire junkie, and while Ultraviolet never actually says "vampire", it's definitely about vampires.

That particular bit of style sets the tone for the whole series. It's all about ambiguity. The vampires are hunted mercilessly by a special government operation, and in many ways the effects they have on people are horrifying. Those effects are almost always viewed secondhand, so you can see the damage done to (sometimes innocent, and sometimes not so innocent) lives.

And yet they are sometimes strangely sympathetic as well. They know friendship, love, pain, and fear, just as the human characters do. They seem human even as they corrupt everything they touch.

Am I talking about the vampires or the humans who hunt them? I dunno. It works both ways.

This is one of the rare television programs that embraces moral ambiguity in a great big hug and won't let go. From beginning to end (and there is definitely a story arc), the watcher is asked to explore tough moral questions. From eternally-childlike vampires preying on child abusers (and who, exactly, is the victim there? Both?) to the abortion of a vampiric fetus, hard questions are asked and left for the audience to answer for themselves.

This is definitely not your typical vampire-genre production. But if you like television that makes you think, and you don't mind a bit of a British accent to your bloodsuckers, take a sip of this one.

This entry was published Thu Oct 14 13:48:06 CDT 2004 by Matthew and last updated 2004-10-14 13:48:06.0.

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