Appellate Judge Rob Lineberger wonders if vampires have any innate shark-jumping abilities.
Sink your teeth into Knight's final hours!
Forever Knight is a series of some (well, a little…let's not get carried away) distinction. It claims spot #24 on TV Guide's list of the Top 25 Cult Television shows, putting it in such company as Freaks and Geeks and Twin Peaks. Sony released Forever Knight: The Trilogy (clever way of saying "we ran for three seasons") parts one and two on DVD; when there was no sign of part three, fans paid for a full page ad in SciFi magazine to get the set released. That set is now in my grubby little hands. Is it worth all of this cult buzz?
Facts of the Case
Nick Knight (Geraint Wyn Davies, 24) is a night-loving detective in Montreal. He's also an 800-year-old vampire who has an unusual philosophy among his kind: he wants to regain his mortality. Forensic pathologist Natalie Lambert is keenly interested in Nick's quest to become mortal because she loves him. Nick's father/friend/enemy LaCroix (Nigel Bennett) is decidedly cool on Nick's ambition. He spews biting poetry at Nick to get Nick to change his mind. In the meantime, Nick's new partner Tracy (Lisa Ryder) and Captain Joe Reese (Blu Mankuma) help Nick fight crime on the streets of Toronto.
Forever Knight fans, take cover. The episodes I caught during my hazy college years were enjoyable, so I have warm fuzzies for the show. My fellow judges Byun and DeWees were positive in their reviews of the first two boxed sets, though both of them keyed in on the word "cheesy." Vampire lit expert Amanda DeWees had this to say: "The cheesy production values, the low-budget special effects, and the amateurish level of some of the acting alienated me at first." She grew to appreciate the show; I'm sorry to say that cheesy production values, low-budget special effects, and amateurish acting alienated me throughout Season Three.
Here's what I gather from the season opener "Black Buddha." Nick had a partner named Skanky who gets blown up, unseen, in an airplane accident (though not before a staged "Hey, remember we're good buddies" phone call to remind us of Skanky's importance in Nick's life). Nick had a different captain, replaced by the harried Joe Reese. Nick also apparently had a vampire lover named Janette, but when he stops by their usual hangout (which by the way has been remodeled) she is gone without explanation. Now I'm no Nick Knight scholar, but this is a lot of change to cram into one episode, even if it is a two parter.
But wait, there's more. Nick is given a new partner, willowy blonde Tracy Vetter (Lisa Ryder). She happens to, in short order, notice that crash victim Vachon is peculiar, fall under his spell, discover he is a vampire, then be sworn to secrecy as they become mortal-vampire cop buddies/romantic interests. In one fell swoop, Nick's central crisis is rendered redundant.
This flurry of changes prompted me to look up Forever Knight—#24 on TV Guide's Top 25 list of Cult Television shows, mind you—on jumptheshark.com. For such a lofty cult show, it didn't get many "jump the shark" ratings. Nine voters feel it never jumped the shark, while nine feel the shark was jumped at various points of Forever Knight: The Trilogy: Part Three.
This gives me mixed messages about the first two parts of Forever Knight. On one hand, it makes me wonder how bad they were if half of the voters feel the show never jumped. Because make no mistake, Forever Knight: The Trilogy: Part Three is bad television. So I'll side with the other hand, which clings to those other nine votes as the voice of reason.
I'm not sure what chemistry existed between Nick and Skanky, Nick and the Captain, or Nick and Jeanette. All that's left is the chemistry between Nick and Tracy, Tracy and Vachon, and Nick and Natalie, which combined over the entire season might heat up a teaspoon of tepid water. This last dyad, at least, should be consistent: Nick and Natalie's doomed relationship is one of the show's central themes. But Natalie constantly acts as though Nick forgot to take out the garbage; they might be feuding roommates for all I can tell. On the other hand, Nick and Tracy seem to be continually stuck on an awkward first date.
Even if Season Three hadn't departed so radically from the central cast that made it tick in the previous seasons, I still wonder whether I'd like it. Forever Knight strikes me as an inferior clone of Highlander: The Series—with vampires. Forever Knight's flashbacks lack Highlander's polish, and it's ruminations on immortality sound like Cliff's notes by comparison. LaCroix and his tone-deaf tone poetry drove me up a wall. He introduces each episode with an extended monologue full of cheesy Goth imagery and despondent musings on immortality. His voice eventually became like shards of rusty glass piercing my brain.
Even the season's biggest moments cannot resurrect the dead chemistry. When Janette (Deborah Duchêne) returns, she seems like a distraught soccer mom instead of a vampire with centuries of experience. As disappointing as her return is, it outshines the resolution of Nick and Natalie's plight. After an ill-conceived attempt to bring Tracey across (which essentially invalidates three season's worth of moral posturing on Nick's part), the end comes in a grim, unsatisfying rush with LaCroix holding the bag (so to speak). To add insult to injury, the last episode is essentially a clip gallery (primarily moments from Season Three).
Like the previous sets, this one has average audio visual quality that betrays the show's low budget. Though uninspiring, it is at least understandable. Less understandable is the dearth of extras. The three music videos that form the entirety of the extras are actually quite good, with polished effects and nice montages of clips from the show. The music videos give me a taste of what the previous seasons might have been like. But given that this is the final season of a recent show with a passionate fan base, more extras are called for.
With Canadian cops, vampires, squirting blood, and skanky perps galore, Forever Knight seems like a sure bet for enjoyable, low-budget TV. It has a quirky appeal, but Forever Knight: The Trilogy: Part Three is mostly a dull slog through cliché and bad vampire poetry. Skimpy extras form the final nail in a rough coffin.
Unlike diamonds, vampires aren't forever. Guilty as charged.
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Scales of Justice
• Music videos: Black Rose, The Hunger, and Touch the Night
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