Yet Another Immortal Detective

March 5, 2008

As if the television sprites were reading this blog last week and decided to grant my wish, Fox has finally actually started airing episodes of New Amsterdam. As I said in a comment on my last post, I found it very interesting this summer when they started advertising both this show and Moonlight at the same time. Immortals have become trendy again.

Last night was the first episode of the show, and if it seems like I’m writing about it awfully early in the game, well, it is a Fox show, so I’d better talk about it now before it gets cancelled, eh? It is definitely a show that fits in well with the “angsty immortals with relationship issues” genre. Which, I should emphasize, is not to say that it’s a bad show in any way; I actually quite liked it. But it was amusing to me that, even though this show is not about a vampire, it neatly sets the stage for a hefty focus on relationships quite early.

It turns out, you see, that John Amsterdam was made immortal by a Native American shaman back in the early colonial days, so that he would remain alive until he found “the one, and your souls are bound together.” So for the last 400 years, he’s been living in New York, looking for his true love, which, as his friend puts it, really means that he’s looking for his death. Amsterdam seems very tired of living forever, and when he ends up having a heart attack near the beginning of the episode and technically dies for a little while, his friend says he looks actually happy for the first time in a long time. This is apparently supposed to mean that his true love was nearby for the first time, presumably to get the overarching plot rolling.

Read the rest of this entry »


Vampire Detectives of the Small Screen

February 29, 2008

Where was I? Oh, yes, the angst and drama surrounding vampire/mortal relationships. As it turns out, TV has been a wonderful place for these to play out. sonetka alluded to some of that going on in Buffy, but I never watched Buffy regularly. Instead, I watched two amazingly similar shows about vampire detectives, separated in airtime by a little more than a decade.

The first series, Forever Knight, I first saw during my impressionable youth, watched regularly for a while, lost track of, never finished, and then rediscovered upon joining Netflix during the dark days of graduate school. It was a Canadian show that had made its way down to the US, to which I was introduced by my aunt and uncle from Chicago, who could always be counted upon to feed my interest in fantasy. It was an awesome show, in a really-bad-early-90s-special-effects kind of way. In the first season, for example, the transformation to vampire mode was signified by the screen darkening and a yellow rectangle of light appearing in a bar over the vampire’s eyes, because they hadn’t yet figured out how to change just the eye color. But these are minor issues, I assure you.

The show is pretty much entirely driven by the main character, Toronto police detective Nick Knight.* Nick has been a vampire for 800 years now, and for the last several hundred has been looking for a cure. As the opening credits narration so eloquently puts it (in the voice of Nick’s nemesis and master, no less): “He was brought across in 1228. Preyed on humans for their blood. Now he wants to be mortal again. To repay society for his sins. To emerge from his world of darkness. From his endless… Forever (K)night.” Can you see where all the tension between the pros and cons of vampirism and mortality might come in here?

Here are the dichotomies, as embodied by various major characters:

Read the rest of this entry »

Vampire Detectives of the Page

February 26, 2008

Like sonetka, I too have been thinking about vampires. In part this is due to the recent resurgence of immortality on TV, (namely CBS’s Moonlight,) but I’ve actually had vampires, and more specifically vampire detectives, in my life since high school, so I’m going to backtrack and look at this weird theme from the beginning, starting where sonetka left off, in books.

My first encounter with the combination of vampire and detective fiction came through my high school enjoyment of Mercedes Lackey‘s books. Her Valdemar series is gaining something of the never-ending quality of Anne McCaffrey’s Pern books, but, also like McCaffrey, she has been prolific in other series as well. One of those other series was the Diana Tregarde Investigations set. There were only three books in the series, Children of the Night, Burning Water, and Jinx High, due to, I kid you not, unbalanced fans threatening Lackey for revealing the truth of occult police work (and a bunch of other stuff.)

In any case, Lackey’s main character, Diana Tregarde, is a Guardian, who guards the force, fights evil, etc., etc. She must solve occult-based mysteries to save the world, which makes for some weird and wacky plots, but with some good fantasy/horror suspension of disbelief, everything makes sense within the context of the book. They’re fast-paced, like any good adventure mystery, and not nearly as cheesy as they sound initially. But what does Diana do to pay the bills when she’s not out fighting monsters? She writes romance novels. And who does she meet in the first book, who helps her gain insight into the dark side of the occult world, and also happens to be tall, dark, devastatingly handsome, and averse to sunlight? A vampire boyfriend, of course. Sound familiar? The vampire boyfriend turned out to be one of the more interesting side characters, but given that the next two mysteries took place out of town, he mostly became relegated to phone conversations and textual references, and then the series ended and we heard of him no more. Alas.

Read the rest of this entry »