Consider the ongoing popularity of shows like The Vampire Diaries as well as True Blood. Now consider also such re-imaginings of staples such as BBC’s Sherlock as well as the two Guy Ritchie films. Now imagine if you will a rebooting, a retelling of a cult favorite that our readers might well find attractive–and so might some network executives.
For those who don’t know, this three-season program out of Canada starred Geraint Wyn Davies as Nicholas Knight, a 700-year-old former vampire eager to redeem himself for centuries of bloodlust. He now works for the Toronto police as a homicide detective. Among the very few to share his secret is coroner Dr. Natalie Lambert (Catherine Disher). She acts as his partner in trying to find a way to become human. His once and sometimes lover Janette (Deborah Duchene), who runs the vampire bar The Raven, helps him in his cases but also urges him to accept what he is. Rounding out the cast was Nigel Bennett as LaCroix, the ancient vampire who created both Janette and Nicholas, feeling deeply insulted by the latter’s lifestyle. He is determined to force his progeny back into the fold. Nicholas also had a partner, that changed over the course of the series, and a Captain who changed each season. Each episode focused on a murder investigation, which always sparked memories shown in flashback (almost always those of Nick).
What makes this show so perfect for a reboot is the simplicity of it that also gives full range a a lot of dramatic possibilities. One one level it remains a police procedural like Bones or Criminal Minds but with a twist. Yet at the same time we watched a man’s search for atonement played out against a love triangle (Nicholas/Natalie/Janette) as well as the ultimate parent/child conflict (Nicholas/LaCroix). When first aired, during the early 1990s, the networks had little idea what to do with it. Each season found it with a new home, with mandated changes in the structure. For the third season, USA demanded a second doomed vampire/human romance so Nicholas got a partner who also knew (and maybe loved) a vampire–Tracy and Javier. Eventually the creators realized the show was doomed. They ended it on an intensely dramatic note that many considered a downer.
Today, a new set of show-runners can look at the entire show and re-imagine it into something tailored for 2012-13 audience. For its time, Forever Knight had almost startling dramatic turns. The trope of vampire-as-addict came out again and again, not least in the level of frustration between Nicholas and the human woman he loved. He could not consummate their relationship without feeding and knew from bitter experience that feeding for him without killing was virtually impossible (he lives on animal blood, much to Janette’s disgust). Of course now that sounds a bit like the vampire in Being Human, but the basic idea might still be explored in new ways. One that comes to mind is to change a bit of backstory. In the original series, Natalie learned the truth when Nick’s shattered body was brought to her morgue following an explosion. Before her eyes, his “corpse” healed and woke up!
Suppose instead Nick had fed upon Natalie in a moment of weakness then rushed her to a hospital, where they saved her life? Presume also the trope that a vampire’s bite becomes addictive. Then we have a fundamentally different dynamic between the characters, a tension much like a heroin addict and an alcoholic trying to help each other out. More, it gives the other vampires a possible hold on Natalie!
One could also expand on certain ideas and character concepts barely touched upon originally. What kind of government or organization governed the undead? Pretty much the only thing we ever heard of were a pair of extremely powerful vampires known as the Enforcers, who stamped out any and all threats to keeping-the-secret. Who were they? A fascinating question, deserving of an answer!
Likewise the final season introduced probably one of the most interesting vampire characters I’ve ever seen. Her name was Urs. She seemed a combination of sex doll and fragile child. Eventually we learned she’d given herself to a vampire, hoping thus to die. He misunderstood and “brought her across.” Since then, she’s tried to find a way of dealing with her conundrum, displaying a deep wisdom sometimes amidst her quiet melancholy. A new Forever Knight might make much greater use of her character, perhaps as the progeny of Nick himself, with a bond of love/hate echoing that between himself and LaCroix!
So many possibilities here, and really requiring a smaller special effects budget than Charmed! The show went simple with its vampire design–contact lenses and fangs. Even if a new version went for something more elaborate, a la game faces of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, we’re still talking about what is in essence a straightforward story lacking the need for such elaborate digital work as people changing in wolves or the like. The flashbacks, involving period costumes and sets, might be curtailed to save even more on the budget. But with good writers and an excellent cast on can easily see this fine t.v. program reborn and hopefully last.
What do you think? Would you like to see a new Forever Knight? And if so, who would like to see star? Joanna Going as Natalie? Michael Shanks as Nicholas? Alicia Witt as Janette? Amber Benson maybe as Urs? Julian McHahon as LaCroix? Offer us your suggestions!