greerwatson (greerwatson) wrote,
greerwatson
greerwatson

Fandom Snowflake 2021 #5

Snowflake Challenge promotional banner featuring a chubby brown and red bird surrounded by falling snow. Text: Snowflake Challenge: 1-31 January.

What to promote? What to promote? Well, I've loved Forever Knight for years: it's my oldest active fandom. It's a TV series about an angsty vampire working as a homicide detective to expiate his feelings of guilt.

FK ran for three seasons in the 90s, first as a late-night show after the news, and then as a syndicated series.



Det. Nick Knight


For a while it was in reruns; today you have to search out the DVDs. In truth, though, there was a fair amount of searching for it even back in the day. At the time, I wondered whether that might even have something to do with my being so devoted to it. When you've scoured the TV Guide trying to find a station that carries it, and then hunted it round the dial as it changes time slots, you tend to feel the show has to have value to it. How else do you justify the effort? (Or is that a chicken-and-egg question?)

As FK started in a Crimetime After Prime Time line-up, it's basically a cop show with a difference—the difference being, of course, that the hero was born in the 13th century, has incredible powers that aid him in solving crimes, and a family (of sorts) that keeps wanting him to return to the vampire lifestyle. Nick Knight—born Nicolas de Brabant, with myriad aliases down the centuries—was played by Geraint Wyn Davies.

A knight returning from the Crusades in 1228, Nick was "brought across" in Paris by an older vampire, LaCroix, and thereafter travelled for centuries with his master.

LaCroix


Almost every episode has a flashback to this period of Nick's life. Cumulatively, we see how, over time, his feelings toward killing shifted. Today, Nick drinks bottled blood; as a homicide detective, he tries to save lives; and, for centuries, he has tried to find a way to become human again. However, from LaCroix's point of view, to seek mortality is suicidal: vampires are immortal, but humans die. LaCroix—who, in life, was a Roman general—is autocratic, dogmatic, and dangerous. He sees himself as pater familias, and Nick as a recalcitrant son. With them also travels Janette, brought across by LaCroix in the 11th century: she is, so to speak, Nick's sister; but she has also, off and on, been his lover. Today, she keeps a Goth nightclub called The Raven, a haven for the vampires of Toronto. Though more sympathetic to Nick than their master is, she still feels that he is utterly misguided.

In his quest for mortality, Nick is nowadays aided by a police pathologist, Dr. Natalie Lambert.




Dr. Natalie Lambert




Obviously, she is his present-day love interest! However, there are plenty of reasons why neither of them is open with the other about the way they feel. Natalie is Nick's doctor; he has a long history of draining (and killing) women he falls in love with; and the vampire community would not approve of anything that might draw attention to them. Still, as Nick works Homicide and she autopsies murder victims, the two of them see each other all the time professionally. And they are certainly close friends: they spend a lot of off-duty time together, and Natalie is Nick's only human confidant. If LaCroix is his "bad angel", then she is his "good one". Though that does, of course, depend on how you feel about his antipathy to his vampire condition.

But, of course, this is only one side of the series. Forever Knight was, first and foremost, sold as a cop show. So every episode has its murder mystery; and, as a Homicide detective, Nick works for the Toronto Metropolitan Police force. He has a boss (actually a different one each season); and he has a partner (Don Schanke in the first two seasons, and Tracy Vetter in the final season).






Capt. Joe Stonetree &
    Det. Don Schanke
Season 1


Det. Don Schanke &
    Capt. Amanda Cohen
Season 2


Capt. Joe Reese &
    Det. Tracy Vetter
Season 3


Each of the police captains has their own style: Joe Stonetree (played by Gary Farmer) is pretty laid back; Amanda Cohen (Netsuko Ohama) is crisply by-the-book; and Joe Reese (Blu Mankuma) is ambitious. As for the partners: Don Schanke (John Kapelos) is a family man, and an experienced cop who is more able than he seems on the surface; Tracy Vetter (Lisa Ryder) is the newly promoted daughter of a senior officer, both advantaged by and resentful of her father's influence. The prominent cast of human characters also means that Nick is mostly interacting with mortals who have no idea that he is a vampire. A source of angst, sure; but, even more, a source of humour.

Add to this a new group of vampires introduced in Season 3: a handsome Spanish conquistador, a Cockney "carouche", who drinks rat's blood, and a wistful nightclub singer.






Javier Vachon


Screed


Urs


Javier Vachon (played by Ben Bass), Screed (Greg Kramer), and Urs (Kristin Lehman) are their own vampire family. But LaCroix and Co. have mostly moved in the upper classes: Vachon's crew are vagabonds. A plane crash introduces Nick's new partner, Tracy, to Vachon. (Yes, she knows what he is; but she has no idea that her own partner on the force is also a vampire.) Meanwhile, Screed lives in a cellar and hunts the sewers; and Urs gets a job as a dancer at The Raven. Sadly, TPTB had only limited notions of what to do with the new characters once they'd been introduced; and as the final season wore its bitter way to cancellation, they appeared rarely.

So what appeals to me?

Well, first of all, I'm fond of cop shows in general (not to mention casefic). So this aspect of Forever Knight is inherently appealing. Hard to write, but wonderful when done well. It's not the commonest; but I've read some excellent casefic.

Then there's the historical side of it: Nick has centuries of history for fans to play in. Add the other vampires to that: all of them have a past, but FK was a herocentric series. We got a fair sketch of Nick's past; but the other vampires' pasts are almost a tabula rasa. Many fans explore in this direction, either in historical fiction or flashbacks embedded (as the series did) within modern-day plots. Some put in a lot of research to get the period details right.

Then there are the character interactions. I'm mostly into gen; but the long history of Nick, LaCroix, and Janette as they split and reunite can be seen as a dysfunctional family dynamic or as ever-altering romantic/sexual pairings. Or poly, for that matter. Add Natalie into the mix; and you have obvious romantic tensions. However, there is also the tug between Nick's centuries' long vampirism and his yearning for humanity, with LaCroix and Janette pulling one way and Natalie the other.

Natalie's explorations of the nature of the vampire are sketchy in the show, which seldom looks at the scientific side even though ostensibly she is using her medical background to research a cure. The series was never consistent in its approach; so there is also an obvious metaphysical side to vampirism—of which Nick is acutely aware, but Natalie generally ignores.

Which brings us to the ethical dilemmas raised by Forever Knight. How do you reconcile centuries of murder when it's necessary for survival? For many fans, this takes a religious bent. (Nick is, after all, a medieval Catholic by upbringing; and he's certain he lost his soul by becoming a vampire.) For me, the interest lies more in psychology and philosophy.

There are so many intriguing characters, and so many approaches to take to the series that I've yet to get to the point where I feel I've written all the explorations I want to in my fanfic. I guess the longevity of my fannish feelings for FK are based in its complexity and all the possibilities I see. This entry was originally posted at https://greerwatson.dreamwidth.org/110430.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
Tags: forever knight, snowflake challenge
Subscribe

  • Post a new comment

    Error

    default userpic
    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.
  • 0 comments