I reviewed the Channel 4 1998 TV series ‘Ultraviolet’ DVD volume several years back and bemoaned that I wish there were more extras. This edition has them!
I’ll only briefly recap the story this time. Code V or 5 is the name for vampires or leeches in modern day. It’s a shame that this edition calls them ‘vampires’ on cover and synopsis content on the DVDs than keep within the remit of the original story.
There is a small unit, financed by the Vatican, who chase them down. After discovering his partner has turned before being caught out on corruption, Detective Sergeant Michael Colefield (actor Jack Davenport) is recruited into the unit, led by Pearse Harmon (actor Philip Quast), ex-soldier Vaughn Rice (actor Idris Elba in his first starring role) and scientist Angela March (actress Susannah Harker). Over the six stories, you mostly see the actions of the Code Vs and their plans, which includes going after the unit themselves, being thwarted. As commented a couple times, the leeches find what you want and offer it to get you to do what they want. Although fifteen years old now, this is a series that is still work seeking out because of its emotional intensity and even director/writer Joe Aherne admits people are still taken by the dialogue.
Speaking of which, don’t believe what you’ve read elsewhere. There are only audio commentaries to three episodes by Aherne and Susannah Harker joins him on the second one, who delights in the fact that she had an action role with a gun.
He points out that it took 18 non-stop months to create ‘Ultraviolet’ in a period where there was little in the way of vampire fare on the box and now it’s impossible not to see miss them. Although I can understand his reluctance to do a sequel, I do wish Aherne would create something equally as good again or at least consider a sequel several years down the line.
Some interesting questions are raised by Aherne like what happens to clothes when a vampire drops something? Then again, I always wondered how can a Code V be resurrected with their clothes on as well? To my mind, it’s almost like a photocapture of what you were when you are turned. Even so, it’s an interesting point that I’m sure someone will exploit one day.
Actress Emer Gillespie was actually pregnant when her episode, ‘Sub Judice’, was filmed so the tests were the real thing.
I was glad to hear Aherne saw the sequence in episode 5, ‘Terra Incognita’ where Vaughn was trapped in the warehouse with four boxes of leeches about to wake up as the key selling point of the series. If you haven’t seen it before, this is still must and seeing actor Idris Elba go through all the options open to his character is still a masterclass from everyone involved. On reflection this time, the original intent was for Angie to have gone with the lady to the river, which makes me wonder what would have happened to her had she been the one in the warehouse.
The out-takes mostly show a sequence from episode 1 as Mike Colefield put together how to find the forger which Aherne took out for being too lengthy according to the audio commentary. It was a wise choice because the extra detail wasn’t needed.
The three interviews with director/writer Joe Aherne are insightful. We learn about his background and what he incorporated into the story. The school used in ‘Mea Culpa’ was his own alma mater. He also relied a lot on family members to provide information about police and military procedures.
An odd fact was that churches and airports didn’t want to be used for filming about vampires. I can understand the church but airports?! It’s almost like there are Code Vs out there already which is a little worrying and one can only hope there is a real CIB watching our necks.
If you haven’t seen ‘Ultraviolet’, then this is a good edition to get hold of, mostly because it has everything from behind the scenes. It’s one of the few series that I never tire of watching and the fact that a dozen years later that someone thought to do a second release must surely speak for itself.
(Region 2 DVD: pub: MediumRare FHED3018. 2 DVDs 300 minutes 6 * 50 minute episodes with extras. Price: about £10.00 (UK) if you know where to look)
cast: Jack Davenport, Idris Elba, Susannah Harker and Philip Quast
check out website: www.mediumrare.uk.com/