With all the current fervor over vampire tales on TV and in films, even the prestigious Paley Media Center in New York City has not only scheduled a vampire festival weekend in November, it is also conducting an online poll to select the top TV vampire of all-time! The original selection of nominees included such icons as Angel, Spike, Barnabas Collins, and Count Chocula, as well as current favorites from television's increasing roster of vampire oriented drama, Moonlight and True Blood. Voters were encouraged to write in their favorites if they had been excluded from the list. Apparently there were so many comments regarding the omission of Forever Knight, a series ranked by TV Guide as one of the 25 best cult TV shows of all time, that Nick Knight, the 800-year-old vampire turned Toronto cop, was added by popular demand. Having been an avid fan of the series I was alternately appalled by his absence and pleased by his eventual inclusion. I'm not sure if he will eventually win the poll, but he certainly should be a contender.
The character of Nick Knight first appeared in a 1989 CBS pilot starring Rick Springfield in the title role; however due to lukewarm audience reaction plans were abandoned for a series. Then in 1992 CBS dusted off the shelved pilot and transformed it into a two-part episode called Dark Knight 1 and Dark Knight 2 which evolved into the series Forever Knight airing in CBS's late night lineup Crimetime After Primetime. The series broadcast history is rather convoluted and involves several fan letter writing campaigns to save it, but episodes were shown from 1992 to 1996 although in a somewhat erratic manner.
Nick Knight, an 800-year-old vampire, seeks redemption for all the evil he has done over the centuries by becoming a night shift Toronto cop, where he can use his considerable powers to track down and punish Toronto's criminal population. At the same time he seeks a medical treatment that will make him human once again. Although the cast changed over the course of its run, several characters remained constant, each having a significant role in Nick's efforts to become mortal. LaCroix the powerful vampire who brought Nick over to the dark side, now a nighttime radio show host catering to a vampire audience, unwilling to allow Nick to abandon immortality and doing everything in his power to stop him. Dr. Natalie Lambert the medical examiner, who first meets Nick in a body bag and eventually joins him in his efforts to find a way back. Nick's partner Detective Schanke, always questioning Nick's unorthodox tactics and confounded by his apparent supernatural powers; still becoming a loyal and dependable friend. And Janette, a sultry vampire always willing to give Nick what he needed in his moments of despair.
Forever Knight became an instant cult favorite when it debuted in May 1992, adding new dimensions to previous depictions of vampires in film and television. Nick was portrayed as a tragic romantic who fought courageously against his bloodlust; but the audience was continually reminded of his bloody and murderous past. Through the use of extremely effective flashbacks, most often taking place in earlier centuries, viewers became familiar with the horror of Nick's existence and came to understand his tortured path back to humanity. Those who accompanied him on this journey were there at the end, a thoroughly unsatisfactory cliffhanger which left many issues unresolved and thousands of fans disappointed and angry.
Forever Knight enthusiasts have found their niche on the internet, websites filled with photos, bios, episode guides, reviews, articles, merchandise, and opinions. Many believe without Forever Knight, there would be no Angel, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, True Blood or Vampire Diaries. More than a decade after its last episode was broadcast, stalwart fans still cry foul at the unceremonious cancellation and denigrate CBS's lame attempt to remake the series as the short-lived Moonlight. More than likely, we will not see a resurrection of the original, but the collective voice of its fans was strong enough to convince the Paley Center to add Nick Knight to its list of nominees for best television vampire. The established fan-base is satisfied, and the uninitiated may take the opportunity to learn more about this guy, Nick Knight, who was included by popular demand.