A month ago Syfy announced “an all-new look and feel set to debut June 19.” I don’t know what’s coming that day, but “Blood Drive,” the series the channel rolls out on Wednesday night, is certainly one heck of a departure. Bring an umbrella to this one: It’s raining red.
The channel has recently favored slick, futuristic dramas, full of gleaming cities and high concepts, but “Blood Drive” is a gleeful detour into grindhouse gore and raunch. In a world that has descended into chaos, with gasoline prohibitively expensive and water rationing enforced by ruthless police, a group of colorful outcasts participates in a high-stakes cross-country road race, using cars that run on human blood. A sinister corporation lurks behind everything.
That may call to mind the 1975 movie “Death Race 2000” (or the recent sequel, “Death Race 2050”), but this tale is sweatier, grimier and better acted. Our heroes, such as they are: Grace (Christina Ochoa), who comes to Los Angeles to join the race in a red car that she has no reservations about feeding, and Arthur (Alan Ritchson), a police officer still clinging to old-fashioned ideas of right, wrong and justice.
The two of them are paired as partners in the race, and their good cop/bad girl dynamic works pretty well. The real attention-getter here, though, is Colin Cunningham, who is hilariously invested in his role as Julian Slink, a sort of steampunk master of ceremonies for the race. It’s hard to make an impression in a series that is so insane, but Mr. Cunningham (who played John Pope in “Falling Skies”) manages it.
For this series, Syfy has suspended whatever restrictions it had on language and bare behinds. And the material is, obviously, not for everyone. Sample wisdom from a cook in a dubious diner in Episode 2: “Everybody tastes the same on the griddle.”
In that same episode, here’s an exchange between the two leads:
Arthur: “I think that corn dog you ate was a ——”
Grace: “Don’t say it.”
As they’re holding this conversation, they’re taking turns vomiting into a toilet.
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