Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Kindred: The Embraced


As I've done in the past, I'll be volunteering my services as GM to those who've never played an RPG in their life, as well as, those who haven't played in awhile.  I started with Dungeon Crawl Classics, then Swords & Wizardry.  For a change, the end of August's meetup will be Vampire: the Masquerade.

Not only will it be refreshing to do something different like Vampire, but I'm also going be running a Vampire chronicle in September... and it will be nice to have 1 or 2 new players.  Yes, volunteering to run an RPG via your local game store, library, internet meetup, or whatever is a great way of finding new players or games looking for players.

I recently re-watched Kindred: the Embraced.  That was a blast from the past.  The Godfather meets Melrose Place by way of Dracula (The Lost Boys?).  A lot has transpired since 1996, so K:tE looks dated.  However, it's also an eight-episode guide to creating a chronicle, a living city with clans, sires, and plenty of blood-soaked secrets.  Here are my top 10 reasons why Kindred: the Embraced never made it past the first season.

1.  The main character, Julian Luna, played by Mark Frankel died in a motorcycle accident soon after the show aired.

2.  I don't think the word "vampire" was used once in the entire show.  I can understand the aesthetic reasons for wanting to avoid the V word, but marketing-wise... that was probably a bad move.  How are casual vampire fans going to find out about a vampire show if there's nothing to identify it as being about vampires in the title?  Sure, there's the roleplaying game, but that's pretty niche.  Plus, this is pre-internet.

3.  The pilot started right in the middle of things.  That can be cool, but also confusing.  If K:tE was done today, then not only would it be called Vampire's Embrace or something, but it would have the first 10 minutes explaining what a clan was and how they see each other, why there was a small table full of primogen, why a city needs a Prince, etc.  If you knew absolutely nothing about the Vampire RPG, then you'd get the gist by the last episode of the season.

4.  They're all day-walkers!  Vampires who can go out in the daylight, as long as, they're not starving?  I guess that makes sense, but it takes a huge part of the common vampire mythology out of the picture.  Basically, this made the show more Melrose Place than Dracula.

5.  Where was the beast?  Philosophically, K:tE made a big deal about the whole "A beast I am, lest I become."  However, except for a couple Brujah versus Gangrel mean girl looks across the club, there wasn't much to write home about.  How about some Kindred frenzy?  I wanted to see the dark animal below their vampiric surface.  Dexter is more beast than these guys.

6.  Where was the blood?  I think there was a little red stuff here and there - badly dabbed on an actor's skin after a fight scene - but I wanted so much more!  Blood is the essence of a vampire's (un)life.  It's like sex, drugs, and rock n' roll all symbolically wrapped up into one powerful thing.  The lack of crimson joy, again, made the series look less like Dracula and more like Melrose Place.

7.  Phosphorescent guns!  These were somehow large Tommy-style guns that could hurt or kill a vampire.  Yeah, I get the idea, why the writer(s) wanted it, suspension of disbelief, etc.  But... no.  That's just stupid and takes away from the Kindred's mystique.  If you want a vampire dead, you hunt him down and stake him in the heart, chop his head off with a sword, or burn him alive.  Probably all three, just to make sure.  Some Kindred died in the traditional ways, which was nice, but those phosphorescent guns were way too prominent.

8.  C. Thomas Howell's acting.  I know he can act.  I've seen it.  Plus, he's been in a thousand different things.  Howell is not really watchable here.  Almost so bad it's good levels... but not quite.

9.  I didn't realize how much of a launching pad K:tE was for a lot of great shows.  Ok, three of them:  Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and Dexter.  Hmm, all of those shows are the first names of the protagonist.  Anyway, half the cast is recycled between the three.  Yeah, this isn't really a reason why K:tE didn't last, I just wanted to mention it.

10.  No sense of mystery, the supernatural and unknown which man cannot fully explain.  Maybe, the writers and producers were going to wait for season 2 before bringing up the "why" of vampires instead of focusing only on the "what".  Or, maybe it never occurred to them.  I wanted something deeper.  Sure, a couple plot hooks were there: drinking a baby's blood by the full moon around some standing stones to bring back the old ways of the Nosferatu, but that was just an episode and it was never expanded.  Cool idea, no legs.


Well, that's it for this blog post.  Still, for all its faults, Kindred: the Embraced was a good show back in 1996, just as it is now.  Worth watching if you're going to run/play the RPG.  Want to talk about anything Vampire-related?  Comment below!


VS

p.s.  Expect to see more blog posts about Vampire: the Masquerade and Requiem in the coming months.