Kindred: The Embraced
is an obscure and short-lived supernatural drama produced by Spelling Television
and John Leekley Productions. The show is a loose live action adaptation of White Wolf
's popular roleplaying
game Vampire: The Masquerade
and ran on Fox
from April to May of 1996.San Francisco
police detective Frank Kohanek (C. Thomas Howell), suspects influential businessman Julian Luna (Mark Frankel) of being heavily connected to the mob and is deadset on bringing him in. While investigating the homicide of Julian's bodyguard on a lead from an anonymous tipster, Frank discovers, through the actions of his girlfriend Alexandra, the secret society of vampires, or "kindred" as they call themselves, that have taken up residence in the city. Unfortunately, kindred law states that telling a human about the existence of vampires is punishable by death. And Julian just so happens to be the leader, or "prince" of the kindred and the one responsible for carrying out that sentence. By the end of the 1st episode, the two men are at odds with each other, with Frank vowing to kill Julian for what he has done. Thankfully, the two get over it really quickly
after the death of a mafia informant at the hands of Eddie Fiori (Brian Thompson
), the traitorous leader or "primogen" of the Brujah clan. The two form a tentative alliance to take down Fiori and prevent a war between the 5 vampire clans.Kindred
was cancelled by Fox after only 8 episodes. Efforts were made by a US cable network to continue production of the series, but this was abandoned when series star Mark Frankel was killed in a motorcycle accident in the fall of 1996.
Critics tend to describe the show as a mix of The Godfather
and Melrose Place
... with vampires. Due to the numerous changes
of the game's elements for mainstream television, there is a noticeable divide between fans of the game and fans of the show. Some are fans of both.
The entire 8 episode series is available on DVD (though it has been out of print for a while) and can still be seen on TV once in a blue moon whenever SciFi
for their programming schedules. And of course, there's always the internet...
This show provides examples of:
- Adaptational Attractiveness: All of the Nosferatu in the show simply have bald heads, sometimes a disfigured digit and goofy looking ears. (Not even pointed ears. Just elongated earlobes and the like.) A far cry from the much more varied and Nightmare Fuelish disfigurements suffered by the Nos in the game.
- Adaptation Distillation: While a lot of the core elements of the game are kept in (the concept of clans and the masquerade, the basic hierarchy of a Camarilla government, etc.), much of it had been simplified or thrown out altogether to make the show more palatable for non-fans of the game who tuned in. A really noticable example is the fact that all kindred can go out during the day if they had fed recently, as well as eat normal food. Usually those abilities are reserved for only the most powerful and ancient kindred in the game. Another is the omission of the Sabbat, the other various smaller factions of kindred society, and most of the clans. (Only 5 clans: The Gangrel, Brujah, Ventrue, Toreador, and Nosferatu are mentioned and represented in the show.) Assumably, White Wolf approved the changes, as Mark ReinĚHagen, the creator of Vampire, co-produced the show.
- Another is the omission of ghouls replaced by "Links". A human drinking a kindred's blood in K:TE makes them immune to vampiric powers and has no addictive qualities,if consumed in small amounts, as highlighted by The Mole during pilot. This isn't explored much and is probably only there to serve as a handwave for why Julian or another vampire doesn't simply use their mind control abilities to make Frank forget everything he's seen and heard.
- I think it's a "lick", not "link".
- Mind you, Word Of God says that had the show returned for a second season, elements such as the Malkavians, the Tremere, werewolves, and the Sabbat would have been gradually introduced.
- The Anime of the Game: A rare Western and live action example.
- A-Team Firing: A mook manages to fail to kill anyone, nevermind his targets, in a drive by. With a grenade launcher filled with Phosphorous and targets less then 12 feet from him!
- Beast and Beauty: One episode features Daedalus trying to start one of these kinds of relationships with a beautiful singer he saw perform at one of Lillie's clubs. It doesn't turn out well...
- Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: Lillie is supposedly Lillie Langtry, a British actress and mistress to King Edward VII of England.
- Biker Babe: Sasha
- Black and Grey Morality
- Bratty Teenage Daughter: Sasha
- Chewing the Scenery: Every single character, at one point or another, indulges in this to some degree.
- Classical Movie Vampire: Julian exhibits a lot of the characteristics of one, including the widow's peak.
- Cowboy Cop: Frank
- Daywalking Vampire: If they've fed recently.
- Death by Origin Story: Stevie Ray, Julian's bodyguard, Cash's sire, and the Gangrel primogen, bites it a few minutes into the pilot episode. His death is what sets most of the plot in motion.
- Arguably, Alexandra as well. It hints that she survived the bloodhunt thanks to Daedalus' advice at the end of the pilot though.
- Hot Scoop: Caitlin
- I Just Want to Be Loved: Alexandra
- Infodump: From Frank, after doing some research in an undisclosed library that somehow has extensive books on kindred lore.
- Kill the Ones You Love: Alexandra was Julian's ex before she was Frank's girlfriend. Though he simply issues a bloodhunt and lets the rest of the city's kindred take care of her instead of doing it himself.
- Kukris Are Kool: Julian has one and uses it in combat.
- Looks Like Orlok: Daedalus and the rest of the Nosferatu. Though due to Adaptational Attractiveness, it comes off as a huge Informed Flaw.
- The Lost Lenore: Frank's wife, Julian's wife, and Alexandra.
- The Mafia: The Brujah seem to have turned into this for the show.
- Mayfly-December Romance: Julian/Caitlin and Cash/Sasha.
- The Mole: Sonny
- Our Vampires Are Different: Follows a simplified version of V:TM's rules with a few exceptions to play up drama and make the show more mainstream friendly.
- Most notably, they remove or seriously downplay all the elements of personal horror... which were the express purpose of the game.
- Royals Who Actually Do Something: Julian
- Rule of Symbolism: The first shot of Julian in the first episode? Him standing behind a glass door with a white painting of a wolf head on it with his eyes lined up with the wolf's.
- Alexandra takes the form of a White Wolf near the end of the pilot, soon after the relationship between her and Julian revealed to be very deep.
- Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Julian, being the prince, has investments and agents in nearly every single establishment in San Francisco, including the police department. Later, he buys out the San Francisco Times just so he can make Caitlin the head editor and have more control over her.
- The Starscream: Eddie
- Supernatural Angst: All of the kindred indulge in it to some extent.
- Token Minority: Sonny, Frank's partner, and Lieutenant Kwan.
- Uncanceled: Almost happened. After being canceled by Fox due to low ratings, Showtime picked up the rights to the show and a revival was planned. The untimely and unfortunate death of Mark Frankel caused them to can it.
- Urban Fantasy
- Vampires Are Rich: Julian and Lillie mostly, but everyone in Julian's court lives pretty comfortably.
- Vampires Own Night Clubs: Lillie, the Toreador primogen, owns several, including the more dominately seen "The Haven".
- The Voice: The anonymous tipster that helps Frank discover kindred society. Though it's revealed at the end of the pilot to be Sonny, who's directly under the thumb of Eddie.