As we continue our Vampire Week celebration here at The Steve Austin Book Club, today we are going to take a look at the rise and fall of a TV show that EG dearly loved – Forever Knight.
He was brought across in 1228 – preyed on humans for their blood. Now, he wants to be mortal again … to repay society for his sins … To emerge from his world of darkness … from his endless Forever Knight.
Starting in 1992, each episode of Forever Knight opened with those words. A nice, succinct way to let folks know what the show was about. But, for the beginning of this show, we really need to look earlier… not 1228, but 1989.
From Jessie’s Girl to Coffin…
And, here is where I show my age. One Saturday night, as I was flipping through the channels, I came across a television movie on CBS. It was a vampire movie (which hooked me) called Nick Knight. In this movie, Rick Springfield (attempting to escape soap operas) played Nick Knight, L.A. cop and vampire.
After centuries of giving into his vampire ways, Nick was trying to cure himself. Helping in this effort was Dr. Jack Brittington (Robert Harper), forensic pathologist and the only one who knew what Nick truly was.
He was advising Nick to live as a human in order to become human – eating real food, no longer drinking blood, and exposing himself UV light via tanning beds. Nick was also seeking out some magical goblets that could cure him.
When some homeless are found drained of blood, Nick is partnered with Detective Don Schanke (John Kapelos) to investigate. (Note to readers: That character’s last name is pronounced “Skanky.” I know, right? Awesome.)
Through the investigation, Nick comes to believe that Lacroix (Michael Nader), the vampire that sired him, is responsible.
I won’t spoil the movie any further. Overall, I enjoyed the movie, but it wasn’t anything spectacular. And, though it was supposed to launch a TV series, that never happened.
Well, not quite never…
The Schanke Years
In 1992, CBS was desperate for some sort of late night programming to go against the Tonight Show and Nightline. After going through a bunch of hosted, Tonight Show-esque programs (one of which starred Wheel of Fortune’s Pat Sajak), CBS decided to switch gears. The result? Crimetime After Primetime.
Crimetime After Primetime was a schedule of different hour long crime shows that aired, each airing once a week. The only one worth mentioning (at least, in my opinion) was Forever Knight.
Forever Knight was Nick Knight revamped (totally didn’t realize the pun, but I’m leaving it, so there!). Of all of the cast, the only actor to return from the original pilot movie was John Kapelos as Detective Don Schanke.
Nick Knight, now played by Geraint Wyn Davies, was now a Toronto cop and vampire. The basic idea of him seeking a cure and redemption continued in this series.
Dr. Jack Brittington became Dr. Natalie Lambert (Catherine Disher).
The role of Lecroix was taken over by Nigel Bennett.
And, the role of Janette (another vampire that appeared in the first pilot that I didn’t mention) changed from Cec Verrell…
…to Deborah Duchene.
Though production values were lower on the series than for the original pilot, across the board, I thought the level of acting went up.
Almost immediately, the show garnered a devoted fan base. Unfortunately, CBS was soon to drop the entire Crimetime After Primetime format, after securing David Letterman for their late night programming.
The voice of the fans was heard, though, and Forever Knight was continued in syndication.
The show’s popularity continued to grow in syndication through the end of the second season.
And, then, the writer’s saw Interview with the Vampire.
The Sun Rises (and we all know what happens to vampires when that happens)
With the third season, major changes came. It was announced that John Kapelos would not be returning to the series (no more Schanke… *sigh*).
It was also announced that Deborah Duchene’s role of Janette, vampire confidant of Nick, was also being eliminated.
Lisa Ryder, as Detective Tracey Vetter, came in as Nick’s partner.
Along with her, came a new, Lestat/Louis-esque vampire named Vachon (Ben Bass).
More and more, the focus of the show shifted toward the new characters, and the storylines seemed to be drawing from the same well as the well-known Anne Rice Vampire novels.
And, perhaps for the best, after three seasons and a radical change in the direction of the show, Forever Knight ended.
I do miss the show, but not what it was becoming. If the show had maintained the quality level that it had in the first two seasons, I would miss it more, but I’m pretty sure if it had continued the way it was headed, I would’ve dropped it.
Still, it is a good idea, and maybe, given the prevalence of vampires in primetime and movie theaters, we’ll see the concept revived yet again.
I miss Schanke.
Tags: After, Anne Rice, Ben Bass, Brittington, Catherine Disher, CBS, Cec Verrell, cop, Crimetime, Crimetime After Primetime, David Letterman, Deborah Duchene, Don, forever, Forever Knight, Geraint Wyn Davies, Interview with the Vampire, Jack, Janette, John Kapelos, Knight, L.A., Lacroix, Lambert, Lisa Ryder, Michael Nader, Natalie, Nick, Nick Knight, Nigel Bennett, Primetime, Rick Springfield, Robert Harper, Schanke, Toronto, Tracey, TV, Vachon, Vampire, Vampires, vampyre, Vetter