Subsequent to seeing the full Van Helsing first episode “Help Me” and panel with cast members Kelly Overton, Jonathan Scarfe, Christopher Heyerdahl, and creators Simon Davis Barry, show runner Neil LaBute, Mike Frislev, and Chad Oakes , when they discussed their elation about the fabulous new series, Van Helsing! We were convinced this new series is one of the best fall Syfy offerings.
Kudos to Holly Hines from the team of fabulous folks at Dynamic Television who have also brought us hit series such as Z-Nation and Wynonna Earp to Syfy, now working in conjunction with Nomadic Pictures, and Echo Lake Entertainment to produce Van Helsing!
Van Helsing is a superbly produced series, with an intriguing story, fine actors, great writers, believable sets and costumes. Therefore, subsequent to a bit of time to review the episodes aired to date, members of TeamWHR including Senior Producer Lori Glumac and Editor Holly Wilson and I have decided to provide complete coverage and analysis of this outstanding new series in the near future!
The pilot version of “Help Me” shown at San Diego Comic-Con 2016 was in itself outstanding with an exciting opening episode when we were introduced to main series characters Vanessa Van Helsing (Kelly Overton), Axel Miller (Jonathan Scarfe), and as we found out to our joy, a baseball bat wielding hero named Sam (Christopher Heyerdahl).
A pleasant, but not unexpected surprise was that the broadcast version contained several enhancements, including an opening montage, slicker VFX, and a back story reference about the beginning of “The Rising” of vampires that began three years earlier in 2016.
The new Syfy series Van Helsing brings us to the present time where we meet Vanessa Van Helsing. Vanessa is to become the resurrected daughter of the famous vampire hunter Abraham Van Helsing, an avowed enemy of Dracula and all vampires.
Originally introduced as a vampire and monster hunter character in the famous Bram Stoker Gothic Horror novel Dracula published in 1897, the character of Abraham Van Helsing, is described in chapter nine of the novel:
“He is a seemingly arbitrary man, this is because he knows what he is talking about better than any one else. He is a philosopher and a metaphysician, and one of the most advanced scientists of his day, and he has, I believe, an absolutely open mind. This, with an iron nerve, a temper of the ice-brook, and indomitable resolution, self-command, and toleration exalted from virtues to blessings, and the kindliest and truest heart that beats, these form his equipment for the noble work that he is doing for mankind, work both in theory and practice, for his views are as wide as his all-embracing sympathy” .
As we meet Vanessa in the new Van Helsing series, we have been excited to witness that our savior apparently shares many of the family characteristics of her famous fictional relative.
We are unsure if Vanessa’s relationship to Abraham Van Helsing is a direct line since his son was reputed to have died in the original story line.
This brings us to the critical question: Could Abraham Van Helsing have sired other children?
According to the new series, this must have happened! This is the wonderful nature of science fiction , anything is possible!
A question therefore, since Dracula was written nearly 120 years ago, we must ask; just how long has Vanessa Van Helsing been “sleeping”?
Following a large number of successful Dracula movies and television series that deal with vampires, as well as spin off stories such as The Vampire Diaries, the promise of Van Helsing is too bring a fresh look at the legendary story that has entranced millions for over ten decades.
A scant few years ago, a superb Dracula series that we covered with glee here at #TeamWHR, whetted our whistles for more details of the legendary Van Helsing adventures to fight monsters and vampires.
Dracula, the most recent series on NBC (2013-2014), received rave reviews and good ratings, but was cancelled after the first season due to reported health issues of the series star, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, who was combating a reported narcotic addiction at the time in question.
Rhys Meyers career has recovered since those darker days, with this Irish actor appearing in the television mini-series Roots (2016), and a load of new roles coming in 2017. This includes a role in the new History Channel hit series The Vikings.
A guest starring role as Dracula in Van Helsing would be nice icing on the cake in this Editor’s opinion!
In the re-imagined Syfy series Van Helsing, Vanessa Van Helsing has acquired an immunity to the vampires. This factor is important to the story arc, which in of itself may be a death sentence to any of the current reality vampires should they attempt to feed upon her.
This immunity factor is certain to protect our new savior and perhaps cure others who have become infected by vampires as we will learn in the pilot episode “Help Me”.
From the first moment Vanessa awakens, after being resurrected to a nightmarish reality where vampires have taken over the world as we know it.
We here at #TeamWHR are more than pleased to know that Vanessa Van Helsing, once she remembers her lineage, will protect us from the horror that has overrun the Earth!.
The certain element of harm represented by the vampires roaming the streets in search of victims, will undoubtedly become a focal point in the fight to overcome the vampires that have become manifest on our fair planet after a volcanic eruption that has unleashed the blood sucking devils on Earth in an action science fiction based story of the rise of vampires in modern times!
With these thoughts in mind, we here at #TeamWHR are hopeful that this outstanding new series will receive similar acclaim as is deserved befitting the legend and legacy of the Abraham Van Helsing lineage and be on our screens for many years to come!
The pilot episode begins in 2019, three years after “The Rising” with Vanessa Van Helsing (Kelly Overton) observed on an operating table, unconscious, in a locked down hospital facility that we will learn later is located in the Pacific Northwest, likely Washington State, an area known for beautiful geography that appears to have suffered when the vampires were unleashed as a result of a genetic mutation from some sort of volcanic activity.
As the camera pans over an unconscious and scantily clad Vanessa Van Helsing, outside a battle of some sort is taking place. Sounds of gunfire, replete with yelling and screaming can be heard, doubtless proving the area is under attack by vampires. Those attempting to survive the onslaught by vampires are unaffected humans in fear for their very lives.
Unfortunately for Vanessa, a group of three hungry vampires have breached the facility. We witness the hungry monsters entering the operating room where Vanessa is located. One of the vampires attempts to feed on Vanessa.
This is the first hint we have that her blood is poisonous to the hideous creature. The vampire immediately begins convulsing and drops to his knees as we observe Vanessa clenching her fists.
Two other vampires realize something is amiss and begin to attack Vanessa. Bad move for these two malcontents as Vanessa makes short work of them, dispatching both to their deaths. T
he seemingly poisoned vampire, whom we will see again at episodes end is seen writhing and gurgling blood as the new Van Helsing logo appears on our screens!
We are then treated to a flashback sequence thirty-six hours earlier where we meet the survivors holed up in the hospital protecting Vanessa for reasons that have yet to be revealed.
Doc, sucking up the blood food, is witnessed snarling at Axel when he removes the tube feeding her. Doc appears to be not fully vampire, seemingly recognizing Axel. Could there be a human being inside this snarling vampire? Will the answer to this question will be revealed as the series progresses?
We will learn that Axel is a former military officer, who for some as yet unknown reason, has been assigned to protect, at any costs, our unconscious savor of humanity, Vanessa Van Helsing.
At this juncture within the story arc, we do not know how long Axel has been protecting Vanessa. We can only assume that the back story via a series of flashback episodes will follow the pilot to delineate the horrible fate that has befallen humankind. This editor is excited to learn what will be revealed in future episodes!
During the course of protecting Vanessa, and subsequent to feeding Doc, who is yelling “They’re coming”, Axel hears a proximity alarm going off. With Doc continuing to gleefully hop around her cage, Axel saddles up and heads to the barricaded entrance.
Here we meet additional survivors who join Axel in the hospital. The superb supporting main stars include baseball fan Sam (Christopher Heyerdahl), John (David Cubitt), Ted (Tim Guinee), Mohamad (Trezzo Mahoro), Cynthia (Avery Konrad), Nicole (Alison Wandzura) and Susan (Hilary Jardine).
Axel is reluctant to let the survivors into the sanctuary of the hospital until he realizes John, a fellow soldier, is one of the those attempting to gain access. Subsequent to opening the security door, the vampires attack. A desperate battle scene takes place with many vampires dispatched, including by baseball bat wielding Sam, who finishes off a few of the hungry monsters with what appears to be an aluminum Louisville Slugger!
A Dracula story arc question immediately comes to mind; How are the vampires able to roam the streets in packs during daylight hours? The answer to this question is revealed during the exciting episodes of season one.
Van Helsing features several additional fine main stars including Aleks Paunovic as Julius, Laura Mennell as Rebecca, and Paul Johansson as Dmitri. These outstanding actors are the titular leaders of the vampire faction whom will be seeking to capture Vanessa for their nefarious purposes.
Guest stars include several famous character actors Terry Chen as Brendan, Sarah Desjardins as Catherine, real life television celebrity host Dawn Chubai, and gifted Jennifer Spence as Karen who is among the survivors allowed inside the fortified hospital. Unfortunately, Karen will not survive the first episode when the vampires overrun the hospital facility.
The pilot episode explores some details about John (David Cubitt) who reported to Axel during their time in the military. We learn that his wife Wendy (Fiona Vroom), whom we will meet later during episode three, is still “out there” on the street with the blood thirsty vampires.
Axel forbids John from trying to save his wife, knocking John out with the butt of his weapon stating “discussion over”. This factor sets up a tension between the two primary characters that will likely explode later in the series.
The tension is accentuated when Axel takes the survivors on a tour of the floor when Vanessa and Doc are located. Axel informs the survivors that Vanessa is not to be touched. John, recovered from being knocked out, Nicole and Karen do not like the fact that Axel keeps Doc, who has gone vampire, in a cage thinking she represents a threat to all of them. Sam and Mohamed are simply happy to be off the street, exhibiting loyalty to Axel and his mission, whatever that may be.
While Axel is taking inventory near the kitchen, the others are not so sanguine, hatching a plot to kill Doc. John confronts Axel in the kitchen, apologizes, stating “He’s trying” for his earlier behavior, begging to be allowed to save his wife Wendy still trapped outside. Axel, being pragmatic, simply replies “she (Wendy) was” alive, trying to convince John to face the fact she has been captured by the vampire gangs.
While we see Vanessa in her underwear, still unconscious on a hospital operating table, Axel shares with Ted why he is loyal to Doc, how she saved many, but was bitten by the vampires trying to save others.
Segue to the lady survivors and John, who are not privy to the details, as they prepare to execute their planned insurrection to kill vampire infected Doc. Sam with his baseball bat and an armed Mohamad comes to the Doc’s rescue helping them reluctantly gain a bit of understanding about our hero Doc!
As the episode winds around to the beginning, somehow the vampires have breached the facility, beginning the vicious attack on the survivors we observed in the opening scenes of the episode. Karen is killed almost immediately, as she gets feasted upon by one of the vampires.
Cynthia is forced to smash her skull with a fire extinguisher before she turns vamp. Baseball bat Sam and his side kick Mohamad remain focused, sending several of the vampires to their distant relative, Dracula, long ago placed in a pine box with a silver stake through his heart!
This brings us back to Vanessa and the three who have gotten past everyone to attempt to feed upon her. We return to present time as the bite awakens Vanessa from her coma.
As the one vampire apparently dies from biting Vanessa, our savior demonstrates her ass kicking skills on the other two vampires who had made it to her room.
Vanessa is confused by the events, asking Axel who he is and how she got there? Apparently, Vanessa has no idea how she could be of such importance as to have a military bodyguard. When Nicole confronts Vanessa about how she survived being bitten, for the first time, we also learn that Vanessa has a daughter named Dylan portray by Hannah Cheramy, a gifted young actress from Vancouver whom we will see at least two more times in episode two and thirteen.
As the episode winds down to an exciting conclusion, Ted offers his help to Vanessa. Based on his behavior, we suspect that Ted is a spy for the vampires who allowed the monsters to entire the hospital in the first place.
Vanessa demands that Axel allow her to find her daughter Dylan during a mutual shower scene where Axel reveals that he has been bathing and caring for her and Doc for the past three years as he was ordered to do.
Naturally, Axel, still naked from the shower scene, covered by only a towel, will not allow that, at least for the time being. Vanessa, grabs his assault rifle holding Axel at gunpoint. Ted arrives, convinces Axel to go get dressed, but instead helps Vanessa.
Axel arrives in the kitchen, informing Ted that only he (Ted) knew where the access codes were kept. A fight breaks out between the two as Vanessa escapes to the roof, where she witnesses the results of the vampire apocalypse that ravaged the Earth in 2016. Ted whacks Axel with a stainless steel chamber pot, then follows Vanessa, with Axel, Mohamed and baseball bat Sam in close pursuit!
Ted, now armed only with his military knife, orders Vanessa that she is coming with him to the vampire leaders who promised to leave the survivors alone if she cooperates. This sequence proves Ted was a spy after all bringing another question to mind; could there be more vampire spies looming in the future?
Vanessa promptly proceeds to kick Ted’s ass, finally skewering Ted’s skull with his own knife who tried to capture Vanessa by stabbing her hand! As Ted crumples, with an amazed Axel, Mohamed and Sam watching, Vanessa’s hand wound heals miraculously before their very eyes.
As the episode ends, a Vanessa looks over the ruined city landscape and agrees to return to the hospital to have a chat with Axel about what in the hell is going on. Vanessa blithely informs Axel that “I don’t need protecting” and “go f_ck yourself”, vowing to escape from the hospital to find her daughter!
To the sounds of “You Are My Sunshine” (recorded in 1939 by Jimmie Davis and Charles Mitchell), a tearful Vanessa is locked in her room by Axel. The episode ends with one of the vampires who had fed off of Vanessa during the attack crawling out of the hospital garbage disposal chute where he had been placed earlier.
This recurring character is named Flesh (Vincent Gale). Surrounded by Axel, Vanessa and the survivor gang, Flesh begging “Help Me”, he informs the survivors that by feeding on Vanessa’s blood, he felt human again the moment he drank it!
In a final enigma, we must assume that Vanessa’s blood will also make Doc a human being again in future episodes that #TeamWHR will cover in the future!
Kenn of Team WHR