Forever Knight


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Geraint Wyn Davies as cop/vampire Nick Knight in Forever Knight.

Forever Knight

(pop culture)

During the 1992–93 television season, Forever Knight emerged as one of the more popular late-night alternatives to the talk shows. The story was built around Nick Knight, an 800-year-old vampire whose current role was that of a policeman on the Toronto police force. Forever Knight first appeared as a two-hour made-for-television movie and pilot for a possible series. Titled Nick Knight, it aired on August 20, 1989. In the movie, Nick Knight (Rick Springfield) was a 400-year-old Los Angeles detective assigned to investigate a series of murders in which the victims were drained of blood. One of the murders occurred in a museum where a goblet that was used to drink blood in an ancient ceremony had been stolen.

Knight was determined to recover his mortal nature. In the meantime he survived on bottled blood. He recognized the murders as possibly having been committed by his old enemy Lucien LaCroix, who regularly reappeared as Nick’s major obstacle. In the process of investigating the museum murder, Knight met Alyce Hunter, an archaeologist who became his human confidant. She discovered that the goblet was used in a ceremony to cure vampirism. In the end, Knight’s investigation led him not to LaCroix, but to Jack Fenner, a bloodmobile attendant and not a vampire, who had been committing the murders because he held a grudge against transients. LaCroix had actually committed only one murder—that in the museum to get the cup. In their initial encounter, LaCroix destroyed the cup. At the end, LaCroix drained Hunter’s blood, which set the stage for Knight to destroy LaCroix.

When finally produced as a television series in the 1990s, several changes had occurred, including a new name: Forever Knight. The action shifted from Los Angeles to Toronto, and Knight had aged four centuries; his birthdate as a vampire was set in 1228. His real name was changed from Jean-Pierre (mentioned in passing in the earlier movie) to Nicolas de Brabant. As the series proceeded, the story of his past was gradually revealed through flashbacks. In the opening episode, Nicolas (Geraint Wyn Davies), a knight, awakened to find himself turned into a vampire by Lucien LaCroix (Nigel Bennett), who would appear in the flashback scenes throughout the series. He had previously been seduced by Jeannette (Deborah Duchene), a female vampire, and the three had lived together for many years until Nick renounced their vampiric evil and began a search to become mortal again. In the series, Knight worked as a Toronto policeman on the graveyard shift. His sole confidant was Dr. Natalie Lambert (Catherine Disher), a forensic pathologist who was working on a means to transform Knight. The opening episode picked up the story line from the movie concerning the theft of the sacrificial cup at the museum. The story was completed in the second episode, in which Fenner was discovered to be the murderer and both LeCroix and Alyce Hunter were killed. CBS added Forever Knight as a weekly entry in its late-night crime series, Crimetime after Primetime, which was aired against NBC’s popular The Tonight Show. It garnered a high rating and a loyal audience of vampire fans. However, it disappeared along with all of the Crimetime series after CBS signed comedian David Letterman to do his show opposite The Tonight Show in August 1993. In the meantime, two fan clubs (the Forever Knight Fan Club and The Official Geraint Wyn Davies Fan Club) and a variety of fanzines began to work for the revival of the show. Their campaign resulted in the show being picked up by TriStar and finding new life in syndication.

At the beginning of the second season, Forever Knight found a home on the USA cable network. However fans were disappointed to learn that both John Kepelos and Deborah Duchene would not be returning. Instead, the series introduced several new characters, not too long afterward, it was announced that actors Blue Mankuma, Lisa Ryder, and Ben Bass would assume the roles respectively of Captain Reese (the new precinct commandant), Tracey Vetter (Nick’s new partner), and Javier Vachon (a new vampire character). Unfortunately, in spite of a well-organized campaign by the Friends of Forever Knight, the series was permanently cancelled at the end of the third season.

Although there have been no signs of the show being renewed, Forever Knight fandom (including an active publishing effort) remained active through the 1990s; reruns of the show appeared on the Sci-Fi Cable Channel, and in 1997, a new set of books based on the Forever Knight series began to appear. The television series was notable for its introduction of the game-face, the changed facial appearance of the vampire when s/he is angered or about to feed. This aspect of the vampire was picked up as a central aspect of vampire existence in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Sources:

Garrett, Susan M. Forever Knight: Intimations of Mortality. New York: Berkley Boulevard Books, 1997. 284 pp.
Hathaway-Nayne, Anne. Forever Knight: These Our Revels. New York: Berkley Boulevard Books, 1997. 274 pp.
Sizemore, Susan. Forever Knight: A Stirring of Dust. New York: Berkley Boulevard Books, 1997. 252 pp.
Strauss, Jon. “Forever Knight.” Epi-log 36 (November 1993) 4–11; 37 (December 1993): 29–35, 62.