Last night on The Witching Hour we looked at the first episode of Angel, a spin-off TV show of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. While Angel would ultimately be about the struggle for the titular vampire to retain his humanity, this was not the first television show focused on a vampire plagued by memories of his past and yearning for redemption. While I cannot be completely sure which TV series might be the first to explore this concept, I do know that a little show called Forever Knight was running with this idea over ten years before Angel premiered. Let’s take a look at a series called Forever Knight with an episode from its first season – Unreality TV.
I actually remember watching Forever Knight in the early 90’s as part of the CBS Crimetime after Primetime lineup. My mother was a big fan of horror so I taped an episode for her to check out. That episode will be the same one we look at tonight, Unreality TV.
But first, a little background about the show’s premise. An 800 year old vampire named Nicholas is living in contemporary Toronto under the name Nick Knight. Wracked with guilt over his actions of one of the undead, Nick hopes to find a cure for his vampirism and in the meantime repays society for his sins by working the night shift as a police officer. There are a few people who know that he is a vampire such as a human coroner named Natalie however, most of the ones who know are vampires themselves. Yeah, vampires exist among humans in much the same way as immortals did in the Highlander franchise.
Unreality TV begins with Nick and his partner, Don, on a routine patrol. They are accompanied by a reported named Tawny and her camera man, Bobby. They are a part of a reality TV series which records police officers on the beat; it is similar to Cops. It doesn’t take long for a call to come in about a shooting and as Nick investigates the scene, the gunman opens fire on him.
Back at the television production studio, Tawny and Bobby manipulate the video footage in order to get a clear image of the gunman with his face lit by the muzzle flash. They give a printout of the image to Nick and Don but Tawny later discovers by watching the footage that Nick was apparently hit by a bullet and seems to suffer no physical effects from the wound.
The gunman is later captured after Nick jumps out of a high window and uses his vampiric powers to glide down to the ground and catch him. Unfortunately, Tawny managed to capture that on video. It seems that the vampires are keen to keep their existence among humans hidden and a pair of enforcers are dispatched to kill Tawny and destroy the video footage. Nick is determined to save her life while at the same time destroying the video tapes.
I am not going to spoil the ending since it seems that this show is not well known. With that said, it is a rather good episode considering the constraints of network television. The story is paced nicely with flashbacks back to the Civil War when Nick served as a doctor and was involved with the death of a photographer who had also managed to capture evidence of the vampires. The Enforcers have no spoken dialogue but they project an unsettling air. What I really appreciate about this episode and Forever Knight as a whole is that not all vampires are portrayed as evil. Some are most certainly manipulative and power hungry but others simply go about their existence. To them, proof of their existence is a threat to their very lives – so to speak.
Unfortunately, Forever Knight is a difficult series to watch officially. There was a DVD release but if you are going to get it then look for the Mill Creek version and not the one released by Sony. The Sony version suffers from poor video quality. I do not recommend the entire series though as season 3 was not very good in my opinion. You can also buy whole seasons or individual episodes on Amazon Instant Video.
If you cannot get enough of vampires and have exhausted all of the episodes from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Tru Blood, you might want to check out Forever Knight and in particular, Unreality TV.