Wednesday, March 28, 2007
One of the DVDs I got for my birthday was the first (first, last and only) season of the mid 90's show Kindred: The Embraced.
I finished watching all the episodes over a week back, but with one thing and another never got around to writing up my thoughts on it.
Now I have a thing for almost all things vampiric... and I remember the show very fondly (hence why I wanted the DVD) from my youth... it was this show that made me seek out the White Wolf roleplaying game/book that the show was based on, Vampire: The Masquerade ... which in turn caused me to create a vampire character (Toreador, naturally) for myself (although I never actually played the game itself), which in turn lead to three short stories (two completed and one possibly uncompletable). Which now means that there's a part of my brain that belongs to that character, and always will.
And yes, I am aware how tragic and fanboy that actually sounds. Especially since I never actually played the game.
But getting back to "Kindred: The Embraced, the teevee experience".
Memory isn't always kind... there are a lot of times when you go back and watch an old teevee series, particularly the first season and it's good and it's nostalgic and you like it, but you look at the actors and the dialogue and you just know that they don't quite have it all together just yet... the first series of Star Trek: The Next Generation was like that... the cast are still finding their feet in their roles... the writers are still trying to find the right voices and the right level for the show... and when you watch it back later you occasionally cringe.
Kindred was DEFINITELY one of those...
I still like it, but whoooo-boy, nobody was quite sure what the hell they were doing back in the day.
I think part of the problem was that it was essentially a hard concept to turn into a teevee show. You have what are essentially immoral and monstrous characters (they lie, they kill, they manipulate, they drink blood to survive... sometimes all in the same episode) and as both a writer and an actor you have to find the line where the audience relates and sympathises with that character. And you can see them going back and forth in the shows... they build up that sympathy and empathy... and then the character has to turn around and kill another character or lie and manipulate someone. It's a very fine line to tread, and I don't think they'd quite gotten a handle on how to do it right.
Which is also possibly why some of the actors end up chewing the scenery a little too often.
And add into that the restrictions put in place by, I'm guessing, the studio, and the timeslot that the show is aimed at... which then dictates what you can and can't show on screen, and ends up leaving a couple of the feeding scenes looking a little, if you'll excuse the pun, anemic.
The writers also played a little fast and loose with a few too many of the "rules" too I think... the greatest of which was the whole going out in sunlight thing... I know that it was mostly likely because they didn't want the whole show to turn into a "night" thing and that night shooting is probably much more difficult and expensive than daytime shooting, but their "day for night" filming was really, really, really, really bad (so much so that when characters in, I think, one of the very first scenes in the first episode mention that the sun is about to come up you find yourself thinking "what the hell are you talking about, you have a freaking shadow!"). And having vampire characters who can run around in sunlight with no consequences just defeats the whole purpose of a vampire story to me.
I didn't mind so much that they played around with the various vampire powers that were set out in the game... particularly mixing up what clan got what powers... and I only know they messed around with it now because I know the game/book.
One thing I did find interesting is that Kindred aired in 1996, and is set in San Francisco, featured characters who were police officers on the SFPD, had a supernatural theme and was headed up by executive producers Aaron Spelling & E. Duke Vincent...
Two years later in 1998 came Charmed... set in San Francisco, features characters who are police officers on the SFPD, has a supernatural theme and is headed up by executive producers Aaron Spelling & E. Duke Vincent...
And when I was watching the Kindred episodes it looked to me like they took a lot of the lessons they learned there across to Charmed. I know at least one of the directors on Kindred ended up directing episodes of Charmed and is now a co-executive producer.
But it was more than just that... particularly you can see the beginnings of the signature "Charmed opening/scene transition San Francisco montages with musical overlay" in many of the Kindred episodes... and because it's set in the same city you occasionally get the same sort of footage, particularly of one of the police stations, which I think is the same one they use for the exteriors in Charmed. It's not completely a rip off, but you can see the ideas starting to develop.
It also seems like they realised that they needed "hero characters" who were essentially good fighting characters who were bad... rather than having characters who were somewhat bad, but slightly less bad than the really bad characters coming out on top.
And there must be something in that since Charmed has been running for so long.
Granted Kindred couldn't go for more than a single season because it lost it's star, Mark Frankel in a motorcycle accident soon after the final episode of the series was aired, which pretty much put the brakes on any further episodes of the show. And which I always thought was interesting/odd/whatever, given the subject matter of the show.
The other thing I found interesting is that a bunch of the cast have turned up in other vampire related shows... Brian Thompson, Jeff Kober and Channon Roe all showed up in episodes of Buffy (Brian and Jeff under varying degrees of latex) and Brigid Walsh showed up in episodes of Angel. And on top of that all four of them show up in various episodes of Charmed, as have cast mates Stacy Haiduk and Erik King. Granted if you look at all their resumes, a large number of them have also showed up on particularly non-supernatural shows like CSI and 24.
And speaking of Channon Roe (that's him at the bottom of the image montage at the top of this post)... I don't think that I have ever been more fascinated with or aroused by the shape of a man's nose... I don't know why, but his nose is just the strangest and cutest shape in the world, and I go whole scenes just watching it. Of course he's gorgeous even without the nose thing, but there's just something about it that just fascinates me every single time I see him.