Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Crossing Jordan – Revealed – review (TV Episode)

season 1 dvd - 3rd season unavailable at time of reviewDirected by: Allan Arkush

First aired: 2004

Contains spoilers

I had not heard of Crossing Jordan – a series about Medical Examiner Jordan Cavanaugh (Jill Hennessy), sort of a female Quincy in a CSI world – however, thanks to the Vamps on TV functionality at the bottom of the blog I discovered that the series was airing on ITV and there was a vampire episode from season 3.

Now, when I mentioned CSI I wasn’t being glib because – having watched just one episode of this – I was struck that this is a low rate CSI clone. It is the sort of thing that has its place on TV, it has a little more humanity about it than perhaps early CSI (failing to realise that it was the concentration on the crime rather than the personalities and hang-ups of the characters that made the show great). It must also have been vampire season on TV because this episode first aired just a few months after the CSI vampire episode Suckers.

the bodyLike CSI, this show (or at least this episode) had two crimes running at the same time. So whilst the central character Jordan dealt with misogynistic cop Seely (David Monahan) as they looked into the suspicious death of a hiker. The vampire story involves Dr Nigel Townsend (Steve Valentine). Like the CSI story, this is not actually a vampire but the belief in vampires – Townsend wants to believe – and the fact that it was a full story rather than a sideline (as happened in CSI) leads this to review.

bite marksTownsend is called as ME to a crime scene, the window is open (100 feet up) and the apartment door was bolted from the inside. The body, a writer called Samuel Burnham, is in the bath tub, an arterial spray is across the tiles, the bath tub is full of blood, he is exsanguinated. The cop, Woody (Jerry O'Connell, who we last saw fighting actual vampires in Sliders), asks Nigel to keep an open mind (though perhaps that should have been a closed mind) as he has a promotion review coming up. The corpse has bite marks on the neck and Nigel exclaims, “Vampire!

He is then called in to his boss, Dr Garrett Macy (Miguel Ferrer). Now given that Ferrer played a hack newspaper reporter in vampire movie the Night Flier I felt that perhaps his warning that they were not the Weekly World News looking for Batboy was partially in reference to his previous role. The victim’s manager comes in and explains that he was a writer of paranormal reference books – he was working on a title called Vampire’s Revealed and claimed to have met a real vampire, Alastair Dark (Silas Weir Mitchell).

Frank Jones is questionedThey also find a meeting listed in Burnham’s diary with a certain Frank Jones. When they phone Jones' number they get the blood bank. They go to speak with Jones and discover that Burnham had been asking questions about elements in blood that could offer immortality. When Woody asks if Jones had met Burnham before, he denies it but the diary lists four other meetings. A bit of detective work shows that Frank Jones died three years before and Dark has assumed his identity.

in the Goth clubWoody and Nigel go to a Goth club. Nigel has all the clothing, Woody looks like a cop. I have to say that the way the club was done was somewhat better, and less offensive, than that in Nash Bridges. They meet up with Dark – who now has fangs – he distracts them by organising a lesbian snog (as you do) and legs it.

preparing to take flightThey aren’t so distracted that they cannot follow and they chase him to a roof. Now, in Starsky and Hutch the vampire jumped the improbable gap. In Nash Bridges he tried to jump and splattered on the sidewalk. In this he looks like he will jump and gets pulled back by Woody.

a fantasy of flightThey question him (he claims to have arrived in the Americas in 1734 from Transylvania) and take an indent of his fangs (from an apple). There is even a reference to Chocula and Frankenberry. The fangs are identical to the wounds in the neck (that hit the carotid artery) but they are an off the shelf make of fangs and there is no way to show Dark’s were the murder weapon. They go back to the apartment, with Macy. Nigel gives his theory that Dark flew in and killed Burnham.

reacting to the sunMacy says there is only one solution to a locked room murder – suicide. Except it wasn’t. Burnham discovered Dark was not really a vampire and to save his book decided to fake an attack. He got identical fangs, phoned 911 and then pierced his own neck – throwing the fangs out of the window to remove the evidence – unfortunately he hit his own artery and bled out (not suicide then, but misadventure). In a coda Dark reacts to sunlight before admitting his real name and confessing he created the Dark persona to get laid. Nigel sees something of himself in Dark.

It is all a bit too twee and light weight. The improbability of the writer falling for the idea that his subject was really a vampire and then accidentally killing himself when he discovered that he had been hoodwinked seemed a little too far fetched. It was interesting that Nigel seemed to be at home in the Goth scene and wanted to believe – but I saw this as a stand alone episode thus do not know if it was developed upon within the series. All in all it wasn’t the finest example of a vampire on TV and owed a little too much to CSI (and, worryingly, Nash Bridges). 3 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.


Lucy Westenra said...

I was hoping we would see Jill Hennessy in a reprisal of her 1989 role in the TV series, "Friday the 13th" in an episode called "Night Prey" when she played a seductive vampiress. It's too bad we haven't seen her in fangs again.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Hi LW, I'm aware of the episode - I've been waiting for the season to air in the UK to run it on the blog - cheers for sharing the link