This Blood Drive review contains vague spoilers.
The executives of Blood Drive test drove the series on some of us mouth-breathers in Jersey, with the promise we don’t reveal any spoilers. What the suits got back was enough to convince the creator of the show that he had to explain what was going on here before the spare parts hit Detroit.
Blood Drive is set in the future. The world is broken. There’s hardly any food. Oil costs $2,000 a barrel. While Heart Enterprises, a corporation that thrived while most went under, doesn’t offer a fix, it does offer a way out. People would kill to work for that company, or to stay employed, literally. Kill. For a job. There is also a super-secret cannibalistic cannonball run kind of contest that pays off with enough cash to eat chicken, which are pretty much extinct. The cash prize is $10 million. That could buy a lot of gas, if the cars in the race ran on gas. They don’t. The hottest rods have been retrofitted to accommodate a newer and cheaper energy source. They run on blood, human blood, and that is cheaper than water.
Talk about road rage.
Yes, go ahead and talk about it, while the racers demonstrate with demon speed. Blood Drive isn’t your usual TV fare. The first episode is called “The Fucking Cop” and that fucking cop is pretty fucking cool in spite of all the evidence to the contrary. LAPD officer Arthur Bailey (Alan Ritchson – The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Smallville) has gone rogue. In the future that means he’s kind of a good cop in a world of bad ones. Some things don’t change. He’s also gone rogue because he’s paired with hot co-pilot Grace D’Argento (Christina Ochoa – Matador, Animal Kingdom, Modern Family, La Que se Avecina) in the cross-country race.
The Blood Drive starts its engines in Los Angeles, a town where health inspectors grade restaurants via human blood type. The cost for police protection starts at a molar. Officer Bailey is a kind of living Ken doll that Grace calls Barbie. She’s no girl scout, even if she’s only riding that cop, once literal-figuratively, to save her sister from a state loony bin.
They are thrown together by the master of ceremonies, Julian Slink, played by Colin Cunningham (Falling Skies, Best in Show, Little Pink House, Da Vinci’s Inquest, Living in Your Car). Slink is the breakout here. Cunningham is having too much dark fun for anyone’s good. Slink talks like Marilyn Manson sings. Too bad the witch drums pounded all over his teeth. He’s not a nice guy. He’s more than fairly competitive, and he hates production notes but he’s an unnatural born showman in a world of the preternaturally unnaturally born. He’s the one who comes up with the idea of partnering Grace and Arthur.
Arthur’s partner Christopher Carpenter (Thomas Dominique – Undercover, Black Mirror, Behind You, Vinegar Tom) has too many muscles. He has the same actual number as anyone else, basic biology teaches that, but his physique is impossible. I know that it’s not fake, but at the same time I know it has to be. Guilted into crashing a wild after-party where homeless trade blood for water, he winds up being groomed for bigger things by Officer Aki (Marama Corlett – The Devil’s Double, Desert Dancer, Maleficent, The Goob, Dovekeepers).
Advanced press described Aki as a “mysterious and sexy police officer who is hiding more than meets the eye,” but it didn’t say how all-seeing that eye actually is. Aki’s eyes do intermittent calisthenics that makes it impossible to look away.
Some of the other racers include Fat Elvis, Clown Dick, the Scholar and the Gentleman, some make it to the finish line and some get served up as lunch in a roadside diner that has the best meat in the west.
It’s not like there are no rules for the Blood Drive. Drivers can’t kill the other drivers, but any other gas source is free pickings. Partners have to stay close to each other, or they get wracked with internal pain. And they have to make the finish line in each city. Otherwise their heads will blow up from the inside because of an explosive chip air-gunned into their necks.
The sets are pretty cool, which may sound like I’m being flippant, and I am, but because that’s exactly what the designers are going for. Heaps of dead TVs, a nod to both Videodrome and Max Headroom, urban decay, desert wastelands, and truly disinviting club scenes abound.
I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that the drug of choice in the alternative future of Blood Drive is called Red Rapture and that the whole thing went south after something called the “scar.” Speaking of scars, the makeup effects, all the effects, are over-the-top-notch. Blood, and other viscous juices, human and semi-human, is on tap. It pumps out by the gallon, obviously, when it fuels the cars, but there’s usually enough left over to paint walls. Other body parts are liberally displayed: severed arms, jars of teeth and delectable eyes. Did I mention that one of the pairs of drivers is a serial killing husband and wife team who still keep parts of their disemboweled honeymoon suite bellboy as a memento? Of course not, because true romance is the most shocking surprise.
Blood Drive will premiere on Syfy on Wednesday, June 14 at 10 p.m. Eastern time.