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‘Blood Drive’ is a New Syfy Show With the Emphasis on Blood
June 14, 2017  | By David Hinckley
 

You wouldn’t necessarily say the level of violence, blood, and mutilation in Syfy’s new series Blood Drive is unprecedented.

You could find a similar level of gore with relative ease at, say, the Chicago stockyards.

By the standards of basic-cable TV shows, however, well, let’s just say Blood Drive sets a new standard.

Premiering Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET, it’s billed as a grindhouse show. Older viewers may find it a more graphic version of the lowbrow flicks they used to see as the second feature at drive-ins.

It’s got fast cars, an evil genius named Julian Slink (Colin Cunningham), a hunky sort-of hero in Arthur Bailey (Alan Ritchson) and the ultimate trump card: a hot babe wearing tight cutoff jeans and sucking on a Tootsie Roll pop.

That would be Grace D’Angelo (Christina Ochoa), the kind of gal who looks sultry even when she’s spattered in blood – someone else’s blood – from her breezy hair down to her unsensible shoes.

You know the character, and Ochoa has it down. 

The premise for the story isn’t exactly new. Blood Drive is set in a dystopian future – the year 1999, to be specific, which gives you an idea how far the whole show’s bloody tongue is planted in its bloody cheek – where a desperate population will do just about anything to stay alive.

The few resources that do remain seem largely under the control not of the government, which is corrupt and irrelevant, but of a megacorporation called Heart, which long ago decided annihilation was easier and more profitable than salvation.  

Welcome to a world where ATMs dispense water, not cash, and 13-year-olds can be hung for petty theft.

So that’s the setup. On to the blood part.

The crafty and devious Julian, a sort of refugee emcee from the dark side of Cabaret, has arranged for a road race. The winner gets $10 million, which even in this warped economy is a decent amount of money.

So every desperate person who still owns a car seems to sign up, which is where Blood Drive really starts to get the arteries pumping.  

Since oil costs $2,000 a barrel and gasoline $60 a gallon, these car engines have been modified to run on human blood.

And how do you fill ‘er up?

Easy. You open the hood to reveal two interlocking sets of rotating gears. You feed a person into the middle, where he or she is ground to pieces while most of his or her blood is captured for fuel.

Grace is one of the racers. Arthur, a cop who still thinks he can somehow bring order to this society, blunders into a situation where he is forced to become her partner.

Arthur eventually modifies his lifestyle, though he retains some of his Police Academy training. When he runs across a man who has been sawed in half, he assures the man that help is on the way, and he will be fine.

Since it runs 13 episodes, Blood Drive incorporates several subplots and a lot of details, most of them bloody and painful. For instance, cutting off body parts turns out to be a sport for which the perp can win prizes.

It should also be duly noted, in the interest of fairness and balance, that the producers of Blood Drive realize simply portraying a human slaughterhouse wouldn’t create a sustainable story for any viewer who was not criminally insane.

So we eventually get familiar elements like sibling rivalries, partnership bonds and, naturally, a bit of romance.

Calling Blood Drive a rom-com would be stretching things, but it is refreshing to see that love can still bloom in a world where, if you softly whispered, “I would die for you,” most of the population would take you up on the offer.

 
 
 
 
 
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Good news, TVWW readers: David’s new book from Doubleday, The Platinum Age of Television: From I Love Lucy to The Walking Dead, How TV Became Terrific is available on Amazon for $20. (Paperback will be available September 5th, here.)

Doubleday says: “Darwin had his theory of evolution, and David Bianculli has his. Bianculli's theory has to do with the concept of quality television: what it is and, crucially, how it got that way."

"The Platinum Age of Television is an effusive guidebook that plots the path from the 1950s’ Golden Age to today’s era of quality TV. For instance, animation evolved from Rocky and His Friends to South Park; variety shows moved from The Ed Sullivan Show to Saturday Night Live; and family sitcoms grew from I Love Lucy to Modern Family. A high point is the author’s interviews with Carl Reiner, Mel Brooks, Norman Lear, Bob Newhart, Matt Groening, Larry David, Amy Schumer and many others...Bianculli has written a highly readable history." —The Washington Post