Thursday, December 07, 2006

Writing Under the Influence – The Embarrassing Bits

For my birthday, Shawn bought me the DVD of Rick Springfield’s pilot for “Forever Knight.” Though I’ve carefully kept the video cassette tape I had of it in good working order, I hadn’t really re-watched the movie since sometime last century (probably the mid-90s.) I had always vigorously defended it against the people who preferred the remake, because to this day I think Rick Springfield has a certain kind of sexy charm (which I never really got from the other blonde dude) and because of the overtly homoerotic scene with his master/Blood Sire (which, to my understanding, was changed to a woman in the remake). Given that this pilot was shot in the late 80s (pre-Ellen, pre-Will & Grace, pre-Tom Cruise/Brad Pitt’s Interview.), the homoeroticism of that scene should be considered pretty groundbreaking.

That said, it was pretty painful to watch.

I don’t understand movie-makers’ need give vampires the whole Klingon-bumpy forehead make-over when they manifest their powers. (Even Buffy did this). I suspect, however, this has something to do with the fact that we like our Dark Siders to be made ugly by their evil. White hats for the good guys and ugly, bumpy faces for the bad guys. God/dess forbid evil should be sexy and seductive, the way Dracula was written. Monsters have to be clearly monsters or we dumbwads out in TV-land won’t be able to recognize them.

Yet, despite how hard the show is to watch now – I think Forever Knight profoundly effected me as a vampire fan. I still love the metaphor of vampire as junkie. The way Nick Knight struggles with his will versus his desire for blood really still works for me, despite the bad 80s hair. The vampire bar scene was also one of the first of its kind (at least on screen) and, though it became overused in fiction (loved Buffy’s reversal of it, later) it’s still kind of cool after all this time. Also, I think that Forever Knight really was my first exposure to what urban fantasy could look like on TV. Nick Knight has a job; he’s a homicide cop – a perfect job for a vampire in some ways (though no explanation is given in the pilot as to how he managed to go to police academy during the day.) There’s also that great scene near the beginning where he tries to tan, and then goes home to close up the curtains and watch the sunrise via webcam, as it were. It was also the first time I thought about how vampires would probably like their blood slightly warm, as he sticks his in the microwave. A bit silly, but still nicely done.

It all seems so commonplace after years of Buffy, but Forever Knight really, for me, at least, put the vampire squarely in modern times and let him be a hero.

Yeah, I’m still a Rick Springfield fan. Embarrassing, yes, but I’ll still admit it.

Ya wanna make something of it??


Vicky said...

I know how you feel Tate, everytime I play Jessie's Girl on my ipod I'm afraid someone will hear. But I love it anyway.

tate said...

Aw, girl, you got nothin' to worry about. I have ALL his albums. Vinyl.

And I saw him in concert -- recently.