Seventeen years ago, a television first premiered on the young FOX network: a prime time dramatic series based on the popular (and controversial) role-playing game Vampire: The Masquerade. Produced by Aaron Spelling, it debuted to fanfare and uncertain expectations. The plot centered around the Kindred of San Francisco, a secret society of vampires with a neo-feudal structure, and the romances and intrigues of Prince Julian Luna and his Primogen council of advisers from the various clans.
It failed after eight episodes and was quickly forgotten.
Today, players of the Vampire role-playing game look back on Kindred: The Embraced with a mixture of embarrassment, amusement, and bitterness. The show made a few critical mistakes, mostly in an attempt to attract mainstream audiences rather than build from the strength of its inherent fanbase. Like The X-Files, I believe that if the show had been approached with the right attitude, Kindred might have also been able to grow from cult show to mainstream success. However, given the current popularity of True Blood, Vampire Diaries, and vampire movies and novels, I believe that this idea could find a second life if attempted again today.
Here’s how I would do it:
First, I would embrace (pun intended) the mythology and setting created by White Wolf rather than run away from it. Fans of the game want to see the gothic-punk world of the game brought to life and even new viewers are more likely to be interested by a show that has a real sense of identity that differentiates it from all the other shows. Think of movies like Tim Burton’s Batman, Batman Returns, and Sweeny Todd as well as The Crow, movies that positively dripped with atmosphere. Granted, on a TV budget, we might not be able to get that extreme, but it’s something to shoot for.
In order to help in that regard, I’d move the location from San Francisco to a gritty, urban, industrial city like Chicago or Detroit. Those cities have a vibe to them that match the themes of class disparity, urban decay, and corruption that form such a central point of the World of Darkness. Keep the Camarilla and mention the Sabbat as a boogeyman throughout the first season to build up anticipation. Explain the various elements as needed, deepening the layers and drawing the viewers further into the world of the characters episode by episode. Furthermore, keep the vampires in the dark with none of the lame excuses for day shooting the original had. Kindred exist on the fringes of society, on the outside looking in, so let’s keep it that way.
However, such a series really lives or dies by its characters, so that’s what I’m going to use the majority of this article to discuss.
Prince Julian Luna: Julian needs to be a morally complex figure in this new iteration, in keeping with the modern anti-heroes from cable series that grab viewer’s attention. Casting someone like Adrian Pasdar not only brings to mind his iconic characters from Profit and Heroes, it also gives you a leading man who is handsome, charismatic, and dangerous. Julian needs to be transformed from an idealistic do-gooder into a strong, capable leader who tries to make the best of an imperfect world, but is willing to accomplish his goals with ruthless manipulation and murder. The Ventrue clan is heavy with tradition and old-fashioned thinking, while Julian is a bit of a Young Turk, so he’s got potential enemies everywhere and knows it. He rules with a mixture of fear, fairness, and utility. By monopolizing the highest levels of the city government, the local media, and the bureaucratic structure, he’s made himself indispensable to the maintenance of the Masquerade while giving himself a mighty hammer to bring down on those who cross him.
Toreador Primogen/Harpy Lily Langtry: In the original series, Lily was probably the most successful character because she was the typical Aaron Spelling woman, desperately clinging to Julian and playing catty games. I’d like to see Lily embody both the rose and thorns of the Toreador clan by being a power in her own right. As Harpy, Lily would set the social standard of who’s popular and who’s not, but she also controls the gossip mill, giving her the ability to build or destroy reputations with ease. Rather than being Julian’s lover, let’s make her Julian’s rival. She believes she should be prince (or at least the power behind the prince), but in public she is Julian’s biggest supporter. She’s content to build her powerbase and chip away at Julian’s support until her time comes, but she’s happy to compromise or support Julian’s plans when they benefit her. Charisma Carpenter has proven to me that she can handle drama, comedy, action, and any other aspect that the character would call for, plus her Buffy/Angel cred means a lot in the vampire fan community.
Nosferatu Primogen/Sheriff Daedalus: Julian’s enforcer and spymaster, Daedalus was one of the original show’s most interesting and layered characters. I want to keep that, but make it less obvious. I want Daedalus to wear his monstrosity for the world to see, for him to embody fear, and to let no one but his fellow Nosferatu see the artistic and caring soul that he guards. Lance Henriksen is such a fantastic actor, and one with such physical presence and intensity, that no one will have a problem fearing him. He can hide himself behind an illusory mask when appropriate, but let’s make him a real Nosferatu: hideous and monstrous. His loyalty should be to the office of prince, not to Julian personally, which could provide interesting conflicts of interest on occasion. His rivalry with and hatred for Lily should be intense and dangerous.
Gangrel Primogen Cash: The clan of the beast needs to be represented as more than gypsy bikers, so let’s have some fun here. I say let’s make Cash a woman to liven up the gender balance and cast a gorgeous, athletic woman like Zuleika Robinson in the role. Let her be wild, uninhibited, dangerous … and Julian’s secret lover. A sordid affair of passion that would be embarrassing to Julian’s blue blood image as well as Cash’s reputation among her scattered clan, but makes Cash fiercely protective of him. A true case of opposites attracting, there are numerous places for such a relationship to go and lots of plots for it to complicate.
Ventrue Primogen Archon Rae: First of all, I’d change his name, since Archon is a position in the Camarilla society that might be needed. I liked Archon in the series, who was Julian’s sire/mentor and the former prince with a dark past. I’d go with that, but deepen it. Archon is Julian’s sire, but he’s also a Ventrue prince who was forced to abdicate his throne in favor of his own “son.” That’s got to sting a bit. If Julian is the modern, practical Ventrue then let’s have Archon represent the old school: aristocratic, autocratic, and firmly convinced that the traditional ways are still the best. He controls various banks and brokerage houses through puppets and has ties with all the city’s old money families. David Warner is a fantastic character actor who excels at smooth, cultured villains; which is not to say that Archon should actually be a villain, but it’s easy to perceive him that way. Which is a wonderful way to keep viewers guessing whether his advice to Julian is really meant to help him or leave him vulnerable to an internal coup.
Brujah Primogen Eddie Fiori: In the original series, Eddie Fiori was the paper tiger that Julian got to smack around in order to make him look tough. I see Eddie as an old fashioned mobster who clawed his way up from the streets, but who has become too preoccupied with maintaining his position to really do right by his clan. Still, he’s nobody to laugh at, considering that his clan controls the city’s waterfronts, organized crime, corrupt police, gambling, and the drug trade. What he lacks in political clout, he makes up for in human influence. Someone like Clancy Brown or Eric Roberts could really make such a short-term role a lot of fun. Have him team up with Lily in an attempted coup that, though it fails, still comes close enough to shake the city to its core.
Brujah Whip Cameron: Cameron was a terrific character who appeared in the final episode of the original show, played by Titus Welliver, and embodied what a Brujah Primogen should have been from the beginning. For fun, I’d bring back Kindred alumni Erik King of Dexter fame to play Eddie Fiori’s enforcer-turned-replacement. A modern Brujah who embodies both the rebel spirit and the desire for social justice of the Brujah clan, Cameron changes the face of the Brujah clan and tries to work to better the life of the city’s human inhabitants. Tough, determined, and heavily-connected, he becomes the dark horse on the Primogen council who could bolster whoever he chooses to ally with.
Editor in Chief Caitlin Byrne: Caitlin was one of those annoying characters from the original show that seemed thrown in just to give Julian something (and someone) to do. In my version, Caitlin is the editor-in-chief of the city’s largest newspaper (which also controls the local TV affiliate) and is Julian’s Ghoul. Ghouls weren’t really dealt with in the original series and this is an area ripe for drama. Promised eternal youth and other benefits from drinking Julian’s blood, Caitlin flexes her power on Julian’s behalf whenever he needs a news story covered up or spun. But Caitlin wants to be more than Julian’s lackey and dreams of being Embraced by him, to the point where she starts going above and beyond her orders to serve and prove her indispensability. Played by a actress like Eliza Dushku, you can imagine how interesting and complex Caitlin’s “psycho girlfriend” plots could become.
Lt. Frank Kohanek: One of the series’ lamest characters was C. Thomas Howell’s police detective who was effectively upstaged in every episode by the Kindred around him. Let’s not bother with this weak and over-done plot and use Frank as Eddie Fiori’s connection in the police, the Lieutenant of the Homicide unit. Old, corrupt, and jaded, this Kohanek is another seeming pawn in the Kindred game who could prove troublesome if he decided to. Whether he’s bought by money or blood, he wants more: more respect, more money, more power. What if he decides to break with the Brujah after Eddie’s death and auction his services off to the highest Kindred bidder after stashing some “insurance” to make sure he stays alive? Keith Szarabajka would be perfect for this kind of role.
Tremere Primogen/Seneschal: Yes, you read that right! One of the major ways that I would improve the new series is by bringing all the clans in for their due. Trying to use the Brujah as the resident “bad guys” on the show was short-sighted and doomed to fail. Why bother when you’ve got such wonderful ready-made antagonists as the Tremere? The clan of scholars and sorcerers is the perfect thing when you need a character that no one likes, but no one can do without. Making the Tremere Primogen the Seneschal is brilliant strategy by Julian, since it places the Tremere in charge (something no one wants) should anything happen to him. Nobody does creepy, condescending, and slyly sycophantic like Jeffrey Combs, so I’d let him play it to the hilt. Half Merlin and half Grima Wormtongue, the Tremere Seneschal can be antagonistic one episode and helpful the next, all while keeping his true intentions a mystery.
Malkavian Primogen: The most often misunderstood clan in Vampire: The Masquerade is the mad Malkavians, so let’s set a good example, shall we? When I think of powerful portrayals of emotionally raw madness, I think of actor Brad Dourif. He can be creepy, he can be warm and ingratiating, he can be dangerously psychotic, and he can bring you to tears (just watch the first season finale of Deadwood). The Malkavian Primogen is a mad prophet, a tortured Cassandra who rarely ventures away from the tending of his clanmates, who revere him as a messiah. When he chooses to attend a council session, it is usually with news of a vision or to seek redress for the abuse of a clan-member or some innocent denizen of the city. Often his visions are confusing or misleading and, once in a while, he just likes to watch everyone jump. For some reason, I see a wary friendship between him and Daedalus and I think that would be incredibly fun to watch.
Lastly, I’d make sure to give each character a counter-part (or several) in their clans to flesh things out. A genuine artist Toreador to make trouble for posuer Lily on occasion–maybe he/she is the Keeper of Elysium. A feral Gangrel friend for Cash to aid and perhaps see glimpses of her own tragic future in. A Ventrue up-and-comer swaying between supporting Julian and Archon behind closed doors and possibly playing both sides. A vain human Embraced as punishment by a Nosferatu that Daedalus tries to educate in the clan’s ways, perhaps with tragic results. What if some other clan demands Julian give them Caitlin to Embrace in repayment for a debt?
Well, I think that’s enough to spark some ideas! If anyone reading this actually has the power to resurrect a show like Kindred: The Embraced, then do so! I give permission for any of these ideas to be used, just please give us Vampire fans a show we can finally be proud of!
Never seen it, but I absolutely love Vampire: the Masquerade! I just started playing a Nosferatu in a local Vampire LARP.
So I’d love to see a good TV show based on it. Doesn’t even have to be a remake of Kindred The Embraced.
I agree, Alex! But you know how Hollywood only responds to remakes these days, so I figured I’d speak their language.
I did watch it on it’s first run – I was disappointed for all the reasons you mentioned – and because it’s by Arron Spelling it was just soft core romance Melrose Place style.
But, yeah, it it was true to the source it would be a huge hit. The vamp’s need to be dark, malevolent and above all human rules.
In Vampire: The Masquerade the Kindred are not stereotyped and have the same mindset, that diversity gives you all kind of characters with rich stories, certainly nobody’s good in VTM universe and at some point in their unlives they become unfeeling creatures, but one of the subjects in VTM is the human condition and how they learn (too late) the value it has. They’re also some Mathuselahs looking for the Golconda, a way to be in perfect communion with the Beast, then they no longer need to fulfill those sadistic desires, the Inconnu, a extremely secretive Sect among the Kindred, usually follows that goal. Dark stories are always the best for genre and what makes it even more interesting it’s appreciating the human condition and the contrast it creates, for the vampires, the lack of it, if not, you go back to the formula of vampire-zombies showing their fangs every 2 seconds.
Instead of humans turned into monsters by default, you can get Fledglings dealing with their new condition based on their psyche, some accepting it and forming part of the Kindred society, others getting cosumed by it, lossing all their humanity and letting the Beast to command them, then facing the Final Death, others not knowing what to do, breaking the Masquerade, because they needed to hunt, etc. The first nights aren’t a nice adventure, if not an horrific experience for a recently created vampire, so, if the person never got involved in a violent situation, may be shocked by the first hunt, which in other words is violently assaulting and violating a body in a way nobody thought, a Mortal enjoys the Kiss, which is when a vampire’s drinking the victim’s blood, but that’s a different aspect of it. The bottom line is this rich lore can offer different and interesting stories, instead of being limited to simple evil bloodsuckers.
the syfy channel should make a re make of the kindred
that knbc let go and never finshed
SyFy? You’re kidding? They cancel everything good!
Apparently, Showtime was in negotiations to pick the show up when Mark Frankel died. Shame, really, because a show like this could be perfect for Showtime as competition for True Blood.
I remember when the show first appeared. I was already a vampire fan for a long time and this was an intriguing interpretation. It was around this time I was also exposed to Vampire: the Masquerade. AOL practically dominated the online marketplace and every household had the AOL CD. It came with almost every magazine, or arrived in your mailboxes almost weekly. I found a chatroom where the “VtM” game was popular and active, and fell in love with the urban horror role play. I was sad when Kindred was cancelled. One of the first things I did when the show aired was run out and buy Book of the Kindred. Still love that book to this day and recommend it to everyone. I’d love to see it remade.
The first thing I did after watching the show was read the VtM books lol. Never played, but I did read the books meant for playing.
Great ideas! I would LOVE to see this show revived! It had such potential and I think would have done well had it been able to continue to air. I like some of your character picks but think some of them need to be younger actors. It needs to be a ‘young’ show to get today’s vampire generation interested. You really put some great thought into your ideas and post and someone somewhere should take you up on them. Good luck to us all in getting the show remade. I think we’d all benefit from it and it could be amazing! Thanks for your suggestions!
You’re probably right, Jodie, but I couldn’t resist giving some shout-outs to a few of my favorite genre actors. These are all people I’ve loved in other series who I think deserve a showcase on a show. In reality, though, they would remake it with a bunch of twentysomethings. But since this was my personal fantasy, I filled it with my favorite old character actors.
This has lots of good ideas, especially about the Malkavians! But the biggest problem with K:tE to me was the loss of that gothic punk world. Part of that has to be the focus on the Prince and Primogen as central characters. They should have been like Hannibal Lecter, like Drusilla or maybe the Conspirators in “The X-Files.” Pervasive, terrifying presences on the fringe of our stories–awesome in power, increasingly unhuman in attitude. I thought the story should have focused some young Kindred trying to somehow go on, retain their humanity while surviving the paranoid eddies in the sea of vampire society.
I’ve got a book like that! ;)
I would love to see a reboot of Kindred:The Embraced rather than a remake. In other words, rather than try to redo Julian and his Primogen in San Francisco, I think a whole new setting and whole new Prince and Primogen. I agree a grittier setting, so I would think Chicago would be a good choice. Darker, sexier, and maybe on Showtime as was noted, to compete with True Blood. I like all of the actors and actresses you chose, but assign them to their new roles for those clans. Especially Adrian and Charisma.
I’m not all that familiar with the show – in fact when i heard of the whole “vampires in sunlight” issue i became sure any conceit of fidelity suffered Final Night and made a point to ignore it – but can see the potential appeal for vampire fans familiar or not with Masquerade’s setting.
Making it different of Tru Blood and other series would be important, so giving a bit more of setting color and stuff to munch beside romance and intrigue might be fun, with sprinklings of older, weird secrets occasionally bumping the protagonist or the occasional chapter focused not in the movers and shakers, but a bunch of young kindred that accidentally and utterly messes with one of their plots in unexpected ways, some fragment of Noddist lore of methuselah plotting for an extra layer and all that stuff that made Masquerade what it was.
Also, i would like to see the toreador Primogen have a bit more from her historical inspiration: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lillie_Langtry
That could be nice too.
Some great ideas! Honestly, I also agree with Dan that new characters would be great, but for this article I thought it would be more fun to work with what they had.
Another idea would be to use the Requiem setting from the Chicago book and bring those characters to life. That’s what I love about topics like this is that it’s so open to so many ideas!
I’d totally watch is. I’ve loved the show (never played the game, so there’s no “baggage” there for me).
Yes yes yes! I loved the show n was dissapointed how it ended.. I understand that the prince died in real life. Thats why I thought they didnt continue. But half of the chsracters are still actors n actresses. Most were from buffy n angel! Lol I would love n give anything for a remake! Yes please
I also still to this day play vampire the masquerade game on my computer.. wish they would make a new one of that as well.
Oh yes, that was a fun one – for a moment there mis-remembered it as set in San Francisco instead of LA and mixing casts and plots, based on this confusion, with Lacroix in place of Rae or as a past defeated but returned rival, along with a bunch of other possibilities. Don’t know if it would work, but might be curious to sketch out.
I’M ONE OF THOSE WHO WATCHED “KINDRED” AND WAS WAITING FOR IT TO BE PICKED UP FOR A SECOND SEASON AND HOPEFULLY MORE. THERE WAS A RUMOR AT THAT TIME THAT DADDY SPELLING HAD CANNED THE SERIES TO CATER TO DAUGHTER TORI’S WHIMS. I FOR ONE KNOW THAT MANY OF MY FRIENDS ALSO FEEL THE SAME WAY I FEEL THAT TO BRING KINDRED BACK WOULD BE AN AWESOME AND WELCOME ENDEAVOR!
Ok, I really want them to redo Kindred the Embraced (or how about do a World of Darkness series, which will introduce the different species over time). 1) Don’t use the characters from the previous series, instead create new ones. 2) first season all about the cams vs the anarchs. Season 2 should be about having to deal with the sabbat threat, and as such bringing in the indapendent clans, than start introducing other species in future seasons. 3) do not change disciplines, keep them within their proper clans, show everyone why each clan is so unique and why each clan is terrifying in their own means. 4) VAMPIRES CANNOT GO OUT IN DAY LIGHT. Seriously, that was a massive problem in the show, and needs to be removed (if True Blood can do it, the creators can to). 5) with adding other creatures, don’t weaken them, keep each creature at it’s strength, show audiences why kindred would never step foot in the woods, or why Tremere are so terrifying do to how powerful mages are. 6) Romance needs to take a back seat in this, kindred do not have the urges of lust and love. Kindred are creatures of survival, where blood is their food supply and joy in life. Sex to kindred is nothing more than a tool to further their goals. 7) with romance taking back seat, make kindred the horrible creatures they truly are, and why it’s a curse to be them. Show why kindred don’t love, and show them as they truly are, creatures who do not trust anyone else, who would slaughter children if it meant obtaining their goals (unless they are under he path of humanity). Finally, the main character should either be ghouled, or embraced as a high gen. Don’t make the main character to powerful, make them actually weaker than some, this will make the character more intriguing.
You forgot the Assamite Clan.
Was any non-Camarilla clan even mentioned in the original series?
I thought they basically did hire an Assamite on the show?
Honestly didn’t see enough of the series to be sure – and if they did, that it was clear they were an actual clan and not some secret society/conspiracy/cabal/etc for someone not already familiar with Masquerade…
Yeah episode six the Brujah hire them to kill Luna, they are treated correctly as a bloodline, and can shapechange
Honestly love the idea of rebooting this idea.
But I would actually prefer something like each season focuses on a different city with all of the unique problems to that region. Possibly with some guest appearances when characters visit the others cities. And I definitely would prefer all new characters and the inclusion of all of the clans is definitely a good idea.
I really want this remade as well, but I think we should make it a continuation of the original, Julian was killed or went into topor or something. I think this would make a more interesting conflict to see how the clans resolve the issue of a new prince and out of respect for Mark Frankel. I also vote to keep this in oWoD.
The newest news is Paradox Interactive bought White Wolf and now they’re talking about films and TV Series apart from video games and the original tabletop, a TV series and films could be on plans.
I like Kindred: The Embraced, it has strong points within its story, the soap opera was the let down and I think the inclusion of a Mortal, Frank Konahek, was kind of unnecessary, he did’t really affect the Kindred and the Masquerade, he always helped to cover everything, even if he ranted and acted all reckless. He said in an special interview that he was the relief for the spectators from all the politics, lore and Kindred society going on, but he didn’t realise that back then, he certainly could have done something better with the character. If they’d include Mortals in a Remake or another VTM TV series, it’d be better they’re just Ghouls or temporal human characters involved in clever situations where the Kindred need to uphold and protect the Masquerade.
By the way, I get your point about the Tremere, but they can be more than that kind of character everybody hates, even the spectators. All they do it’s to be able to survive, they were Mages like those in Mage: The Ascension and discovered a way to become vampires without the need to be embraced by another vampire, they made something like Diablerie with Saulot, an Antediluvian from the Salubri bloodline, that’s why all the Clans and bloodlines loathed them, they stole the vampire condition and as any other Mage in World of Darkness, they use to take anything they want, for example, to create Gargoyles, they need to sacrifice a Nosferatu, a Gangrel or a Tzimisce and use their blood and body parts for that. Their secrecy is to keep all their knowledge for their own Clan and not let their enemies, like the Tzimisce, can use those against them.
Yeah, they can be hated, but something interesting about them it’s they treat other Kindred in the Camarilla Sect as royalty; as they were part of the best club in the world, even rewarding and recognising anything that vampire did for the Camarilla. As long as a Kindred supports and contributes to the Camarilla, the Tremere would be their best and most powerful allies in WoD, emphasis in “most powerful” (among the vampires, they’re the stronger with their powers, Thaumaturgy, other Clans and bloodlines have their own kind of powerful strengths). Vampire politics.
I thought Kindred The Embraced was cancled because the main actor died in a Motorcycle Accident? Though admittedly I never watched the series, or knew of it’s existance or even of Vampire: The Masquerade 17 years ago, it wasn’t until later when I was introduced to the franchise via the PC game Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines.
I watched Kindred: The Embraced and it is absolutely amazing. I really wish it would come back on. I was in love with the characters. I thought it ended because an actor died though. Idk why it didn’t get more people watching it. it’s really good.
Yes the actor who played Julian went home for the coming birth of his child and was in a motorcycle accident. He did not go to hospital but was taken home. Hours later the news paper said he felt I’ll and died. UK paper said it was from head team from earlier accident that same day. It was never renewed by network after that. Actor who died had a huge contract to be in a series of movies. His family and his agent was really excited that he was signed. He was supposed to be a huge movie star success until he passed away.
I really want to see this becomes a series again. I spoke to Netflix and they said if enough people request for it they would try to bring it back as a Netflix exclusive. so everyone please contact Netflix. They are really good producers and I think they would make it a hit.
I’m contacting Netflix and telling my friends to do the same
I loved that show and read years ago that the male lead Mark Frankel had a fatal motorcycle accident which caused the show to fold when it did. It would be Great to have it come back. I’m seriously surprised nobody has yet tried to revive it given it’s potential in the right hands.
Where is the mansion located in CA? I saw a mansion estate on Bravo Real Housewives of Beverly Hills 2 weeks ago and thought Holy Heck that’s it. But it was a second property that went with original mansion. It’s been featured on Bravo Real Housewives Orange County in a wedding 5 years ago so they must rent it out often. Would be great if the series could be made by Netflix or Amazon so it would not disappear after 8 episodes! I’m sure someone could make it an epically great series. Too bad someone with vision like the the Director from HBO’s recent The Young Pope could not be Director of this series. It could be incredible series in the hands of a Director like him.
I think it’s worth a reboot- particularly as everything from “Night Gallery” to several Blaxploitation movies are being remade!
I like the kindred embraced 1996 and I like the original cast members. No one cannot played Jillian Luna like the way Frank Frankel. Frank Frankel played Jillian luna very well and better. If they do remake the kindred embraced, I will not watch it. Because I like the original kindred embraced better.
Mark Frankel is the best julian luna and it will never be another julian luna. Mark Frankel is the best and Amazingly strong ♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️⭐