David S. Goyer scripted the three Blade films (and directed Blade: Trinity), which reversed the long-term trend for Marvel properties to fail in the cinema. The spin-off TV series, ‘developed’ by Goyer (who scripted this pilot with comics writer Geoff Johns), was supposedly inspired by The Wire, an interesting idea which just leads to another ‘elite vampire conspiracy’ saga along the lines of the ones seen in Forever Knight, Blood Ties, Kindred: The Embraced, Ultraviolet and a handful of other would-be trendy pictures. With Wesley Snipes off making direct-to-video garbage in Romania, this is bizarrely a case where using the original big screen star would have been a handicap for the show – though it’s a shame they didn’t hire a better replacement than rapper Sticky Fingaz. Billed as Kirk ‘Sticky’ Jones, the star makes for a short, shave-pated, uncharismatic Blade, and looks comically stocky in his weapon-packed coat.
The backstory doled out by a vampire expert (Randy Quaid) recaps Blade’s origins, and confirms this is indeed the Eric Brooks/Blade of the movies rather than a new version for the TV show. However, there’s no mention of the sidekicks Blade had in the last film, and he’s down to a single, undercharacterised support stooge (Nelson Lee) when he returns to his home city, Detroit, to pick a fight with the House of Cthhon (Chthon is a Marvel demon, who has bothered Scarlet Witch and others), a vampire clan headed by English-accented smoothie Marcus Van Sciver (Neil Jackson). Jones fails to establish much of a character, and is edged into the background by Krista Starr (Jill Wagner), a war veteran whose twin brother (David Kopp) has been murdered by Van Sciver and who gets injected with the vampire’s blood and turned during the film. The most unusual, if not entirely good, sequence is Krista’s nightmare before rising from the dead – where she is led back through her childhood by her dead brother and witnesses Van Sciver’s memories of his own origins, hung up on a frame by apparently vampiric Native Americans.
The twist in the last moments, intended as a springboard for the series arc, is that the dead brother wasn’t a lowlife vampire wannabe but an undercover ally of Blade’s, and Krista starts taking Blade’s thirst-assuaging blue formula so she can take over as his inside agent within the H of C. Also introduced are Chase (Jessica Gower), a blonde vampire who becomes Krista’s tutor in the ways of biting people, and Detective Boone (Bill Mondy), a minion who gets bitten but winds up in a plastic bag as part of Van Sciver’s pack of enslaved and dripped-out vampires. As is the business of pilots, lots of balls are thrown in the air and nothing is resolved – there’s a sense that Van Sciver has potential problems in his own empire (as in the first Blade film, he is summoned by a council of ‘pureblood’ vampires to explain himself) which does seem derivative of the Barksdale-Bell organisation of The Wire. It’s established that the dust made when vampires are killed can be used as a drug to confer vampire abilities for a brief period – a concept that features in my Anno Dracula novels (then again, I borrowed Blade for Johnny Alucard so it’s only fair chunks of that should get sucked back into the franchise). The ensuing series was cancelled after a dozen episodes.