tied to a vampire past
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Transcription & Critique
of the Forever Knight episode
“Ashes to Ashes”

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FOREVER KNIGHT
The Original Series

The television series Forever Knight debuted in 1992, after an initial pilot in 1991 made with a largely different cast.  The series starred Geraint Wyn Davies as Nick Knight, a homicide detective on the police force in Toronto; but it was more than a cop show, though there was always a murder mystery for Nick and his partner to solve.
In 1228, Sieur Nicolas de Brabant, a knight on the Crusades, had encountered a pair of vampires and been “brought across”—only to come, over the centuries, to regret this decision and the many mortal deaths required to feed his hunger for blood.  His new crusade:  for a reversal of his vampire state, a return to humanity, and redemption for his soul.  So, as a police officer, he uses his preternatural powers to serve and protect those on whom he once would have preyed.
Altogether—albeit with hiatus and on different stations—Forever Knight lasted for three seasons.  It was finally cancelled in 1996.


Premise

In writing FK4, the illusion that I am trying to cast is that the actual Forever Knight television series was never cancelled.

This is what might have happened.


Changes

Although I have tried hard to stay close to the original series in terms of plot, format, and characterization, this is not to say that there have been no changes.  Some are designed to update the show.  Others correct what I (and other fans) see as flaws in the way the original series was written.  There are also some changes that can be excused on the grounds that they are only the sorts of alterations you get between seasons on real television.  Undoubt­edly, though, there is some residuum:  no fan is without bias; and one of the problems is that you never recognize it in your own writing.  Still, I have striven hard to give the impression that what you are “watching” is the real Forever Knight.

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Continuity

The original Forever Knight series was like an anthology of short stories all of which were about the same characters.  Things just appeared out of the blue:  in the final season, for example, we were suddenly told mid-season that the parents of Nick's partner, Detective Tracy Vetter, were well into a divorce.  Unfortunately, this means that things that ought to impact strongly on the characters do not have the same significance for the viewers, especially if the script writers then never refer to them in subsequent episodes.  Indeed, in this type of television series, there is no sense that events in one episode, even major events, have any long-term consequences.  The exception, of course, is killing a Detectives Nick Knight and Tracy Vetter character off when the actor leaves the series—but there the motiv­ation for change comes from outside.
Originally, I had no intention of changing the way the series operated.  I was just writing individual epi­sodes, using plots that had occurred to me while the series was still on.  Even after a couple of years, when I had written about a dozen shows and had decided to assemble them into a season, I still did not intend to add continuity.  It did not seem authentic.  But, as time passed, it became more and more obvious that pretty well all TV shows were including at least some degree of continuity.  So sticking to the old format started to seem downright silly.  After all, if Forever Knight hadn’t been cancel­led, it would probably have eventually been affected by current trends.  If it had ever been revived, it would have been updated.
Nevertheless, I want to stress that I don’t want to alter the general feel of the show.  I’ve kept the main plot of each episode self-contained, except for the two-part season premiere; and I’ve tried for variety.  There’s no “big story” or “five-year arc”.   Mostly what I’ve added is continuity of characterization, and little subplots involving the relationships between the characters.

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Consistency

One of the irritating things about the original series is its chronic inconsistency.  Of course, nitpickers can always find fault; and any show can shift slightly over time as its premise is refined.  But Forever Knight had more than its fair share of problems.

  There were a variety of different interpretations of the nature of vampirism.  Sometimes they were handled this way and sometimes that.  All depended on the impact on the story told in the individual episode, without regard for the effect over the series as a whole.

  There were occasional historical inaccuracies—most notoriously, perhaps, a reference to Nick having helped someone at the Battle of Hastings, which was fought in 1066, years before he could have been born.

  There were also a number of nit-picky incon­sist­encies, such as whether Nick’s first partner, Don Schanke, did or did not have a mother-in-law alive.

Naturally, I have attempted to avoid these problems—with what success I cannot justly tell myself.  Inconsistencies from the original series can sometimes be resolved with a tad of ingenuity.

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  Canadian Content  

The original Forever Knight also had a problem with Americanisms.  The show was devised in the States; and the original pilot was shot there, and its story set there.  Only when the series got the go-ahead was it moved to Canada; and, although the pilot was rewritten, no consistent attempt was made to alter content that was relevant only to its original setting.
Nor did the problem go away.  Forever Knight may have been filmed and set in Canada, but many of the people involved in writing it were still American, and the show was primarily aimed at American syndication, despite having had, in its first season, slightly different versions for the German and Canadian markets.  There is, therefore, a disconcerting foreign flavour to the series, at least from the perspective of a Canadian viewer.  For example, when suspects are cautioned in Canada, they are not given the American “Miranda” warning.  As in Britain, there is a different wording, though to the same intent.
Other anomalies involve inconsistences between the Toronto of police squad cars Forever Knight and the Toronto in which I live.  Many of these involve the depiction of the Toronto Police Force.  Triv­ial, yet visually striking, is the difference in the colour of the police cars, which in the real Toronto are all white, but in the Toronto of Forever Knight are blue-and-white.   More important, as a Hom­i­cide detective, Nick should by rights be working, not at the 96th Precinct on Queen Street, but out of Police Headquarters on College Street, which is two subway stops away.  And most Forever 96th Police Precinct Knight fans know, of course, that the real Toronto police force does not have precincts:  it has divisions.  But, as well, Nick’s boss would not have the rank of captain.  On the real police force, the ranks are (in order) Chief, Deputy Chief, Staff Super­intendent, Super­in­tend­ent, Staff In­spect­or, Inspect­or, Staff/Det­ective Sergeant, Sergeant/Det­ective, and Constable.  (The similarity to police ranks in Britain is, of course, not a coincidence.)  A last point—there is no Police Commission, but rather a Police Services Board.
There is, however, a problem with correcting this sort of thing to bring Forever Knight more in line with the actual situation in the real City of Toronto.  Some of the anomalies are so entwined in the series—mentioned so frequently, in so many episodes—that altering them would produce stories that, from the perspective of a long-time fan, would seem somewhat inauth­entic.  To a certain degree, then, one simply has to accept that Forever Knight, like all fiction, has its own secondary world; and, furthermore, that the Toronto in which Nick Knight lives differs from the one in which I live in more than just the existence of vampires.
The Coroners Building at 26 Grenville Street in Toronto.
So there is no changing the fact that, in the world of Forever Knight, the police force has blue and white squad cars, precincts instead of divisions, and captains instead of superintendents.  Equally, there is a radio station called CERK, and a tabloid newspaper called the Metropolitan Examiner (neither of which exists in the real Toronto either).  However, there are other things mentioned only once or twice; and I see no reason not to bring them closer in line to reality.  After all, they did get some things right:  the police path­o­logist in the series, Dr. Natalie Lambert, does indeed have her office in the Coroner Building on Grenville Street, just as she would if she were working in the real Toronto.

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Supernatural

I've largely cut out the supernatural stuff.  Now that Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its spin-off Angel are so well-known (and Twilight has become a raving success), it seems important to differentiate the world of Forever Knight.  It should play to its own strengths.  That to me means taking an essentially realistic approach.  The existence of vampires is now the only supernatural element.  No more haunted houses or demonic possession.  That’s the purview of other vampire series.
By the same token, no melodrama.  I think vampires work better when they’re played straight, especially when they’re supposedly a secret race hiding in an otherwise realistically depicted version of our own world.  So Nick works mostly pretty straightforward cop-show type cases.
I have, however, kept the metaphysical aspects of vampirism.  There's obviously more going on here than just the purely physiological.

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Changes in Cast

LaCroix Dr. Natalie Lambert Det. Tracy Vetter

LaCroix

Dr. Natalie Lambert

Det. Tracy Vetter

I've based Season IV on Season III.  That means that the regular cast for that season is back, playing the same characters that they played the previous year.  Nick’s partner is still Det. Tracy Vetter; their boss is Capt. Joe Reese; and they work with Dr. Natalie Lambert, the forensic pathologist.  The vampire who brought Nick over, LaCroix, is still the owner of the Raven nightclub, and still has a late night radio show, which he hosts as “the Nightcrawler”.
Since in my version of FK reality, the series wasn’t cancelled, the penultimate episode of Season III, “Ashes to Ashes”, had a somewhat different plot.  In FK4, therefore, the two younger vampires Javier Vachon and his daughter Urs are not dead (or, at any rate, they are still undead).  Vachon appears in every episode, and Urs in most of them.  That is a shift from Season III, where Vachon ap­peared in only ten episodes, and Urs was a minor recurring char­ac­ter.  But that is the sort of change that often occurs in real shows, budget permitting.

Capt. Joe Reese Javier Vachon Urs

Capt. Joe Reese

Javier Vachon

Urs

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Changes in Sets

The permanent sets for Season III included Nick's apartment, the squad room, the Raven, Natalie's office, and Tracy's apartment—all of which are, of course, still around in FK4.

  In the antepenultimate episode, “Francesca”, we saw a set for the abandoned church where Vachon lives.  It doesn't seem quite the same as the sets seen in previous episodes, so I’m assuming that at some point he decided to move down to the basement, probably to avoid windows.  At any rate, that set is now permanent.

  I have also resurrected the set for Natalie’s apartment, as it was seen in Season II (although, in truth, that set was actually converted into Tracy’s apartment for the final season of the show).

  And I’ve added a set for LaCroix, up in his apartment above the Raven.  Since “Ashes to Ashes” happened differently in FK4, I’ve not used the set from the aired version; instead, I’ve designed my own.  It’s a study.  (Given the tone of his Nightcrawler broadcasts, he seems pretty well read.)

Adding new sets for a new season is, of course, a pretty common practice in real TV shows—again, of course, budget permitting.  Where, exactly, they’d fit them in on the soundstage is outwith my ken.

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Budget

As you may have gathered, I’ve increased the amount of money available to the people making the show.  Not that you're suddenly going to get a vampire version of Law and Order.  But I’ve worked on the assumption that the show might not only have been picked up for another season, perhaps on yet another network, but it might even have been given a budget raise (probably the unlikeliest of all the deviations I’ve made).  The episodes of FK4 are written, therefore, with an eye to their costing about the same as those of Forever Knight’s first year.
How far do I manage to stay on budget?  Well, as I don’t actually have to build sets, go on location, hire actors, costume them, or go through the whole production/postproduction process, and as I have never been involved in this process in the real world, I can’t possibly say.  But, within general guidelines (such as counting the number of additional speaking parts I put in, and comparing that with the number in Season I episodes), I have tried to keep costs down.  More or less, anyway—at least in most episodes.  After all, if you’re going to play a game,you should play by the rules.


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Forever Knight and all characters and images from the original series are owned by Sony/Tristar. No copyright infringement is intended.

The picture of Nick & LaCroix appears courtesy of Kristin Harris.
The other pictures from Forever Knight episodes are from the KnightWatchman Episode Archives, and appear courtesy of Nancy Taylor.

The FK font, immajer-FK, was created by JamieMR.
I'm not sure where I got the cream square, but thanks.
The ink bottle is from J's Magic Graphics, and was colorized at GRSites.com.
The "New" graphic is from www.grsites.com.
The Humpty Dumpty magician is from www.free-clipart.net.
The maple leaf is from the Canadian Flag Clip Art Gallery.
The fancy divider bars are both from www.100000freecliparts.com.

All original material on this website copyright © Greer Watson 2004, 2006, 2009, 2011, 2012.