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30 August 2009 @ 03:00 pm
Nick Knight Turns Twenty  
Last week was the twentieth anniversary of the original broadcast airing of Nick Knight, the pilot starring Rick Springfield that did not get picked up, but provided the basis for "Dark Knight" and "Dark Knight, the Second Chapter" when Forever Knight got its turn a few years later.  Those of you who watched the made-for-TV-movie incarnation that very first time: care to share any memories?

My Nick Knight moments came later.  My favorite may always be a passage from FKFic-L War 8 ("Cinderella's War"), in which a N&NPacker hesitantly explains to a baffled time-and-reality-displaced Nick Knight Nick that: "In your world, we would be Nick&JackPackers..."  Still makes me laugh.  (Sorry that I can't remember who wrote it!)  Another memory is the first time I read a zine that mixed NK and FK stories; I didn't at first understand which were which.  They do look so alike on the page, until you bump into Jack or Natalie, or call for "Jean-Pierre" instead of "Nicholas."

abby82 made a fun anniversary vid to the song "Los Angeles" by Sugarcult.  Inspired by her, I got out my Nick Knight DVD and actually watched it all the way through for the first time (the last time I watched NK, it was on VHS, and on a smaller screen).  It's long been my opinion that NK's Alyce "Junk Food" Hunter is superior to FK's Alyce "Hold Me" Hunter, as NK's Janette and Lacroix cannot hold candles to FK's Janette and Lacroix, and that the NK Schanke is not just a younger incarnation, but actually a completely different character, from FK's Schanke, and those haven't changed.  But several elements caught my attention for new-to-me comparisons: 


  • Sound effects.  The NK version of the heartbeat sound effect is wetter than the FK version.  The tissues squish and the blood flows through the NK sound.  Slightly ickier, slightly more appropriate?  It's not the beat; it's the blood.

  • Culture.  Many things change between Los Angeles and Toronto, but I was struck this time by the explicit statement in NK that the press didn't care about the murders until an employed, middle-class citizen was murdered, and then suddenly they're all over it.  In DK, the press has been in a frenzy all along, and the third murder is the last straw, not the first spark.  This has two main implications.  First, the NK Lacroix is knowingly escalating the situation by killing the guard, while the DK Lacroix is knowingly hiding the guard's death in the pattern already reported in the press.  Second, Nick's concern for the homeless in NK is shared by no one, neither human nor vampire, while in DK, the larger culture does to some degree reflect Nick's care, and it is only other vampires (and human murderers) who do not.  (Side note: In NK, the murderer knows/says Jeannie and Topper's names.  In DK, he doesn't say them; they are anonymous to him.)

  • The Mystery.  Several little lines, given in NK to Alyce and in DK to others, seem to strengthen the exposition of the connection between the theft of the cup and a madman murdering people for their blood.  A good example of this is "do you know what they used that cup for" coming earlier and with greater connection in NK.  On the other hand, the cutting of the break line is so much better in DK that it looks like a foul-up in NK by comparison; Nick in the trunk hearing the keys makes all the difference in assembling clues logically and progressively.  And yet... the implication that the villain blames himself for his mother's death is a terrible loss between the two.  That realization in NK -- that he is, bizarrely, murdering to make up for something he did, as he perceives it -- should have been a wonderful accent to Nick's own guilt and reparations in DK!

  • Music.  FK could never have afforded those songs, and I wouldn't trade Mr. Mollin's music.  But aren't the overt song connections fun in NK?  "Only Human," etc.

  • Losing Control.  The order of events and the overblown confrontation at the swimming pool in NK seem more logically to lead to Nick almost killing Alyce as a consequence.  Somehow, the order of the scenes in DK just isn't as direct, and doesn't make the same beeline connection between vamping out, getting perforated with bullets, and almost being unable to resist chomping on Alyce -- or even just why he flew, rather than walked, into the museum at that point.

  • Love.  Both NK and DK end with a conversation adjacent to the memorial for Alyce, in which Nick mentions "never being able to love" as something he endures as a vampire.  In FK, discussions periodically crop up about exactly what Nick means there -- in light of later canon, and because the statement seems to come out of nowhere in DK.  NK, unlike DK, has specific lines earlier in the story foreshadowing and backing up this final remark.  Most prominently, there is a wistful comment to Schanke about the wonders of waking up next to the same woman every day, and there is a despairing line to Jack about never being able to love a woman properly because of the blood.  Neither of those lines made it into DK.  The absence of the latter is the more conspicuous, because that entire conversation stayed, except that one sentence.  Jack hears it; Natalie doesn't.  Do both Nicks think it, but only one says it aloud?  Is it because Natalie is a woman?  The consequence of not saying it is that FK is not bound by that categorical rule (which unboundedness eventually leads to sipping, which eventually leads to HF and LK, but that's another discussion).  But was it left out with the goal of opening up canon, or simply because the listener is a different sex in each incarnation?  Or something else entirely?

  • Living Space.  A loft over an elaborate, vintage, abandoned theater with "It's a Wonderful Life" endlessly advertised on the defunct marquee.  Heh.
 
 
 
Valerie - Postmodern Pollyanna: natpackerwiliqueen on August 31st, 2009 02:12 am (UTC)
The memory that jumps to mind (other than writing to CBS begging them to reconsider picking it up being the first time I ever did such a thing) is from the following Spring Break, hanging out with vaznetti and aceofkittens in San Francisco.

We stayed up until the wee hours plotting a massively cracktastic epic crossover of Everything We Love Ever. At one point it involved Nick being railroaded into the Saving the World scheme and forced to ride in the trunk of the Caddy from L.A. to San Francisco, with an OC of questionable highway prudence at the wheel, grumbling all the way. I can't remember what plot excuse we came up with for its being out of the question to wait until after sunset to drag the poor guy up five hours of freeway, but we were rather gleeful in postulating it.

And you have reminded me that the It's a Wonderful Life marquee may have been my single favorite touch in the entire thing.

Edited at 2009-08-31 02:15 am (UTC)
Amy R.: Nataliebrightknightie on September 7th, 2009 11:09 pm (UTC)
>"other than writing to CBS begging them to reconsider picking it up being the first time I ever did such a thing"

Bless your twenty-years-younger self! :-) The winter of third season was the first (and last) time I've done that for a television show. These days, I drop in on websites to help keep up the web ratings, but otherwise just sigh to see them go. Cynical?

>"a massively cracktastic epic crossover of Everything We Love Ever."

It sounds like a delightful night! Hmmm. Someone was after him, so he had to get out of LA before being found? Someone was arriving in San Francisco, and he had to be there when they did? The Enforcers were... wait, wrong incarnation. ;-)

>"And you have reminded me that the It's a Wonderful Life marquee may have been my single favorite touch in the entire thing."

I'm not sure I even noticed it before this viewing! The old TV was smaller...
Elycia: Because I Can by Elyciaelycia on August 31st, 2009 11:41 am (UTC)
Wow. This is an INCREDIBLY astute analysis of the two different pieces. I've only ever seen NK once, about a hundred years ago, and so most, if not all, of these points were lost on me until now. Thank you for a fascinating walk back through these two. (And I couldn't agree more about the comparative strength of the characters of Alyce, LaCroix, and Janette in the two! NK's LaCroix is like a bad LeStat impersonation and drives me bonkers.)
Amy R.: Tracybrightknightie on September 7th, 2009 11:17 pm (UTC)
You're very kind! It's not an exhaustive analysis by any means, just the things that caught my attention this time. The most important difference between the two series may well be the addition of flashbacks for FK.

>"NK's LaCroix is like a bad LeStat impersonation and drives me bonkers."

I know someone who really likes the original NK Lacroix, and the only way I've been able to wrap my mind around that preference is to focus on his pure '80s-ness, and the difference that being the same apparent age as Nick would make in their relationship (at least as they are perceived and treated by others). Perhaps the NK Lacroix is more equal to Nick? The NK Lacroix would surely have stayed dead! ;-)

There are a few Lacroix lines -- e.g. "No guts, no glory, man" -- in "Dark Knight" that should really have been left behind with the recasting, in my opinion.
greerwatsongreerwatson on August 31st, 2009 12:42 pm (UTC)
A friend spotted a videotape of NK in a secondhand bookstore and gave it to me—otherwise I'd never have got to see it.

To me, the significant differences lie in two quite separate areas.

First, we have the discovery of the cup, seen in NK but not in DK. On the other hand, we have the flashback in DK: this sets the pattern for the whole series, which had flashbacks in almost every episode. You lose some, you win a lot.

Then there's the casting. In which regard, as far as the putative regulars are concerned, there's no question that a male pathologist bears no comparison to our Natalie! As for the DK LaCroix: he's a travesty. LaCroix at his most overacted worst. No subtlety at all. Granted, there was a certain amount of that in Season One; but, once they decided to bring LaCroix back fully into the show, the character developed a marvelous complexity.

Yet, I have to admit that there are differences—I would say especially in the subtleties of the pacing of the show—in which the earlier NK version does actually have the edge, at least as a stand-alone story. I don't think it would have produced as good a series.
Amy R.: Castbrightknightie on September 7th, 2009 11:29 pm (UTC)
>"On the other hand, we have the flashback in DK: this sets the pattern for the whole series, which had flashbacks in almost every episode."

I would agree that the addition of flashbacks is one of the two most important changes between the two incarnations -- perhaps the most important, even more than the recasting. The ability to tell parallel stories, to build depth and resonance with experiences over time, gives an entirely different focus than if the detective plots and present day were the whole scope.

If nothing else, the flashbacks were why I tuned in in the first place. :-) I literally paused channel-flipping on an FK flashback one rainy weekend before I'd ever heard of the show; I wouldn't have stuck around without the costumes and history. I imagine I'm not the only one.

>"Yet, I have to admit that there are differences...in which the earlier NK version does actually have the edge, at least as a stand-alone story. I don't think it would have produced as good a series.."

I agree.
PJ1228pj1228 on August 31st, 2009 07:48 pm (UTC)
Thanks for sharing this thorough comparison.

If I recall it correctly, I think I saw NK before I saw DK, but not before I saw FK. I started watching FK from episode "1966" on in 1994, when it first aired in Germany. In 1995, the second season was aired and I got my first glimpses on DK through the flashbacks of "Close Call". I think I saw NK after that. And I had to wait another year before the first season was rerun and I could finally see DK.

I guess I'm one of the few (I know only one other person) who prefers DK Alyce over NK Alyce. The reason for this is rooted in the scene when NK Alyce begins eating her ice cream over those precious old books. I know this sounds ridiculous, but something in me always recoils when I see that scene. I wouldn't want her anywhere near my books.

However, I like her inquisitiveness when she confronts Nick after he leaves the Raven, while DK Alyce merely follows him.

Also, I like the music very much, especially the songs by Yello ("Desire", which is played in the Raven and "The Rhythm Devine" played at the end).

Something else I recall disliking in NK after watching it the first time were the flying sequences (the ones where the camera flies, not when Nick is seen flying). They were a bit weird and made my stomach turn. The flying sequences from FK, although containing less special effects, appear to me more real in terms of the actual speed that vampires travel with.
Amy R.: Lacroixbrightknightie on September 7th, 2009 11:21 pm (UTC)
>"The reason for this is rooted in the scene when NK Alyce begins eating her ice cream over those precious old books. I know this sounds ridiculous, but something in me always recoils when I see that scene. I wouldn't want her anywhere near my books."

That is an excellent point. I thought she was eating only over modern reference books, not original source material. If she is indeed eating while handling precious old books, recoiling is not at all ridiculous! I would recoil as well.

>"ones where the camera flies"

I noticed how the camera kept all but hovering over the museum, and didn't know what to make of that.