Series review: Ultraviolet

This is a classic BBC miniseries from 1998.  I had seen the first two episodes when it originally screened, but never seen the whole series.  Dave had not seen it at all, so when I discovered a friend had the series on DVD, I thought it would be great to watch the whole thing (thanks Keat!).

Ultraviolet is only 6 episodes long, each fully self contained.  It revolves around Michael Colefield (Jack Davenport), a Detective Sergeant, whose best friend goes missing the night before his wedding.  It leads to his involvement with a secret government department – with ambigulous ties to the Catholic Church – that investigates people who are no longer exactly people.

This is a very modern, scientific approach to an age-old supernatural myth.  Agents carry guns with video cameras attached so they can see who has a reflection and who doesn’t.  Guns are loaded with carbon-filled bullets.  Gas grenades contain concentrated allicin, which is also found in garlic.  In lieu of sunlight, they hold the ashes of their targets in canisters under ultraviolet light.

The word ‘vampire’ is never used.  The cases are referred to as Code Five, or V (the roman numeral for 5).  And the leeches themselves are obsessed with genetic experimentation, as a means to propogate as they are sterile.  One episode goes into blood disorders.  Another involves an unusual case of in-vitro fertilisation.

The name of each episode is a latin phrase that has legal or religions meaning, but which also fits with the theme of that episode.

  1. Habeas Corpus (Have the body)
  2. In Nomine Patris (In the Name of the Father)
  3. Sub Judice (Under Law)
  4. Mea Culpa  (I am guilty)
  5. Terra Incognita (Unknown Land)
  6. Persona Non Grata (Person not recognised)

Jack Davenport, the superb Susannah Harker, and Philip Quast are all excellent.  Most of the other characters are well played too.  For me the only irritating note was the shrill, inconsistent character of Kirsty, the bride-who-wasn’t from the first episode, played in a highly irritating fashion by Colette Brown, whom I am glad I haven’t come across before.

Overall, a fantastic series that I highly recommend.

2 thoughts on “Series review: Ultraviolet

  1. I had a great time with this series too. I liked that even though it’s a short run of six episodes, the arc is complete without changing the world so much that there isn’t room for further advancement in the conflict with the leeches.

  2. I believe the writer originally intended to do a second series, but it just didn’t happen. However there is no sense that it is incomplete when we watch it, so the episodes that were made have a a definitely finish

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