Van Helsing: Season 1
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Van Helsing: Season 1

The relationship between television and movies is always a tenuous one. There have been instances where a popular movie, particularly intense character, the spun off into a television series. Of course, the exchange material also strongly small screen to big but that is usually considered a modern contrivance. Among the most recent instances of this trend takes a character that has been around for a considerable length of time, Van Helsing. The original Abraham Van Helsing was the main protagonist in the novel by Bram Stoker, ‘Dracula,' originally published in 1897. I know enough to be the most famous vampire hunter in fictional history interpreted in literature, stage productions, film, and television. Like so many literary constructs, Abraham Van Helsing, MD, D.Ph., D. Lit, is so amazing crafted with a rare attention to detail that he is highly conducive for interpretation by successive generations through the prism of their experiences and predilections. This incarnation of the Van Helsing legend demonstrates the impressive flexibility and potential of the character. First, Van Helsing had a change of gender into Vanessa Helsing (Kelly Overton), a relative of the original. To their credit, this fact is left mostly unspoken, rarely even mentioning the familiar connection. This was a brilliant idea permitting Vanessa to become her character avoiding the shadow created by audience expectations. Considering the supernatural slant infused in the proceedings that form the foundation of the main storylines. By taking this track, the creative minds of the project were better able to navigate the fine line between the connection to one of the most famous characters in the fiction zeitgeist of several generations and bringing the character into a new millennium. Currently, the television schedule overrun by various types of horror series. Ranging from zombies chowing down on human flesh and cannibals who prefer a gourmand preparation, there are more variations to the genre on TV than ever before. ‘Van Helsing’ admittedly borrows liberally from other forms of horror stories expertly crafting something new and exciting.

Set several years in the future where the world is still reeling from circumstances that led to a global apocalypse. A pandemic of a virus that transforms its victims into bloodthirsty vampires. Exasperating the situation was a drastic change in the climates leaving the world shrouded in a cloak of dust creating a perpetual state of twilight. Humanity now reduced to isolated bands of survivors desperately trying to avoid becoming hot meals for earth’s new dominant spices and an alpha predator, the vampires. Most are greatly reduced I cognitive function, but there is a cadre of vampires that retained their cunning and driving to attain unchallenged superiority. A hospital, Seattle Valley General Hospital, was commandeered by Marine, Axel Miller (Jonathan Scarfe), who was sent there to deliver and protect a corpse of a young woman, Vanessa Helsing. Subsequently caught in the events of ‘The Rising,' he became trapped along with one of the staff involved in researching Vanessa, Doc (Rukiya Bernard), a medical examiner and scientist. Before Axel fortifying and locking down the facility, Doc was bitten and turned. Trapped in a feral state Axel maintains her in a locked cell satisfying her hunger by periodically siphoning off his blood. When the defenses are breached three vampires come to Vanessa, and one of the intruders bites her on the neck. Uncharacteristically the vampire begins vomiting as the others hold back in fear. Later, the vampire that tried to feed on Vanessa reverts to his human form, making the previously inanimate woman very sought after by the leading vampires. She is potentially instrumental to restoring humanity to their dominance. Vanessa has developed several abilities that enhanced her use in developing the story and the extension of the requisite mythos necessary to progress the fundamental story. Vanessa is preternaturally strong, agile and durable. This makes her a target for the vampire elite. Arguably the most advantageous ability is her greatly enhanced ability to heal a bit less than Wolverine.

After the accidental revision of the vampire goon, Axel realizes what is happing and tries Vanessa’s curative powers on Doc returning her to human. Axel, dedicated with a commitment to honor rivaling a certain character from Gilbert and Sullivan. His last official order was to protect the body, i.e. Vanessa. This expanded to encompass preserving Doc. To this end, Axel routinely bled himself to keep Doc alive. Although the fundamental story is quite familiar employing standardized characters and situations, the execution is so extraordinary that something that a synopsis would indicate the result would be little more than a mundane TV show, that was far from the achieved result. ‘Van Helsing’ has proven to be one of the most intruding series to insinuate itself into the medium of television. After the success of many character driven horror shows, the devotees of this lauded genre have come to expect, to demand a significant depth and precision in writing and for a cast and creative crew sufficiently accomplished to embrace the nuances expertly infused in every aspect of telling the story. Some are quick to cite structural and conceptual similarities with ‘the Walking Dead, ’ but that should not infer any negative connotations to the originality or quality of ‘Van Helsing.'

The world, having been reduced to several well-defined factions. The Elite are sentient vampires loyal to their leader, Dmitri (Paul Johansson), whose undead status precedes the Rising by several centuries. He controls a death squad whose sole purpose is to kill. The feral is the prototypical vampires, photosensitive, requiring blood for sustenance. They existed in the shadows before the darkening of the atmosphere may cause it possible to function during the day, they are poisoned by Vanessa’s blood. There are mutually exclusive factions within the elite based on allegiance to Dmitri, an ancient or Julius. The latter are more human in appearance and are capable of speech. The diversity reflected in the undead also manifests in what remains of humanity. People have divided into primitive tribe like associations. Typically these social units are dominated by a chief or local warlord figurehead exerting draconian control over the subordinates. The manifestation of numerous blocks both among the living and undead confers a complexity and social distinctions not present in other series including ‘The Walking Dead.' Zombies are interchangeable ibn the context of that series, but here vampires are a group heading encompassing significant variety in abilities and motivation. Following a growing trend, the series was produced in Canada and broadcast on the SyFy Channel. The standard television redesign is gone, replaced by the growing spectrum of venues including all tiers of cable and the increasing importance of streaming video services. This has fostered a fertile environment of unprecedented creativity resulting in better television than ever before. With such influences, a series like this. Audiences are demanding a level of quality that provides the incentive for the networks to fund such projects. The bottom line is something like this can is possible and given an opportunity to find its narrative consolidating a solid fan base. The second season is about to begin as the story contends with major changes to the principle cast. This is a sleeper hit that may be unnoticed but worthy of your consideration

Posted 06/04/2017

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