Sunday, February 6, 2011

Kindred: The Embraced

Sometime in the late Nineties, like most gamers I got into the whole Vampire the Masquerade craze that swept through the geek underground (and overground as well.....) at the time. For a generation raised in dungeons and Dragons, exhilarated and then ultimately bored by it, White Wolf provided a welcome blast of fetid goth air, an alternative to the by-now cliched battles against orc's and dealings with haughty pointy-eared elves. To be a creature of the night...languid yet lethal, possessed of immortality yet deliciously jaded by it. To walk the streets of Gothic-Punk cities, feasting on the blood of unsuspecting mortals and facing down the darkest nightmares Beast other words, it was as far from Tolkienesque as you can get.

Eventually, like all things it soon became overplayed. Playing a monster of the night like a Vampire (or Werewolf or Mage for that matter) takes a level of maturity in players that wasn't always present in college students away from home for the first time in their lives. Far too many sessions devolved into little more than wish-fulfillment murder fantasies, not to mention more than a few acts of true imaginary depravity (you never could tell with some of those guys whether or not it was really pretend with them. And those guys were among the more clean-cut fellows in the groups...the out-and-out goths tended to be among the tamer...) But unlike Dungeons and Dragons, Vampire the Masquerade spawned an AARON SPELLING TV show. Yep, the mind that created the Mod Squad and Beverly hills 90210 (who didn't have a thing for Shannon Doherty back in the day?) Kindred: the Embraced.

Of course I saw it, anyone geek out there worth his bag of dice made the time to watch. And despite our fears, the show was awesome. They kept fairly close to the source material, close enough not to alienate the core fans, but not so close that it would drive away other viewers (here's hoping the team behind Game of Thrones can thread the same needle.) Only eight episodes were made, needless to say the show didn't catch on with a wider audience. Maybe it was ahead of its time...the Vampire craze was still a decade off, and while Buffy treaded the same general territory, it had the advantage of Joss Whedon running the show.

So maybe it was TOO inside for the average non-gamer viewer out there who didn't know the difference between a Ventrue or Brujah (that was the biggest off-point...making Brujah idealists into dockside Vampire...and what about the Malkavians? They were the most fun to play....) The show got canceled, and efforts to transfer it to Showtime ended when Mark Frankel died in moercycle accident. even so, it endures in the memory of Gen-X geeks as a cult series for those really in the know. And like most hidden video treasures, its memory endures on YouTube, where old shows live forever.

The entire run is out there, chopped up into chunks but still viewable. Watch, and if you saw it the first time take is a welcome walk down memory lane to the Clinton years, when things weren't as messed up. And if you're too young to remember, now's your chance to see an ancestor of True Blood and The Vampire Diaries.


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