|A Biased Look at the History of Forever Knight|
The Original Pilot and the First SeasonOn August 20, 1989, CBS aired a pilot for a proposed series, _Nick Knight_. Starring Rick Springfield as the lead, the two-hour movie failed to muster the support it needed at that time to become a full-fledged series. However, in May of 1992, CBS remade the pilot as a two-part pilot called "Forever Knight" (FK). This time the series was picked up for the CBS late-night lineup of shows referred to as "Crimetime after Primetime."
The first season of FK aired from May 1992 to August of 1993 at 23:35 Eastern and Pacific Standard Time. For a frightening two months, FK was temporarily taken off the air during the confusion associated with the move of David Letterman's "Late Night" show from NBC to CBS. Fans were told that the show would be cancelled in December of that year due to the Letterman deal. However, marathon letter writing sessions and numerous phone calls resulted in TriStar reviving the show in syndication and local stations picking up the broadcasts. FK returned to the airwaves on November 9, 1993.
Fans were startled to learn during the first season that three different versions of the show were being filmed. The first version, shown in the Canada, Australia, and Europe ran for a total of 47 minutes. The second version, shown in the continental U.S. was only 40 minutes long. When compared, the shorter "American" version of season one was missing more of the opening and closing credits, a number of the flashback sequences that characterize the show, and several interactions between main characters. Only a handful of the third version season one episodes were filmed. These episodes, intended for European audiences, included shots containing significant amounts of nudity. At the main cast's request, this third version was discontinued. The remaining episodes of the first season were filmed in the US and Candian versions only and finished being broadcast on August 23, 1994.
The Second SeasonAfter the immense satisfaction from the sucess of strenuous fighting to save FK from cancellation, the loss of actor Gary Farmer was one of the first disappointments suffered by fans for the second season. The official word on his departure was that he had become committed elswhere and could not return to the show. However, conversations with fans who spoke with Mr. Farmer indicate that he may not have been asked to return due to personality conflicts with with FK VIPs. Despite conflicting reports, his loss was mourned by more than just a few fans.
The second season opened with Nick and Schanke inexplicably in a new precinct where they came under professional, no-nonsense watch of one Captain Amanda Cohen (played by veteran actress Natsuko Ohama). Throughout the season, Cohen's character failed to live up to the expectations of many fans, perhaps because the show's writers failed to give the character the necessary chance to demonstrate the excellent qualities that got her to her position of Captain in the first place. Though no fault of her own, Ms. Ohama's character generated only a small following during season two.
The last episode of the second season was broadcast on July 24, 1995.
The Third SeasonRiding high on the success and popularity of the second season, executive producer James Parriot became aware of a definite problem. Show buyers at the spring television buying convention in Los Angeles, California were simply not impressed. In a desperate plea to save the show, he turned to the fans that had been so steadfast and enthusiastic about their desire to save the show after the first season. Via the Internet, Mr. Parriot requested that fans and friends of the show contact their local television station expressing their desire to see the show renewed a second time. The overwhelming response of the fans literally flooded television stations insiting that the stations consider renewing FK.
Mr. Parriot's plea, and the subsequent action of the fans, was successful. In fact, this second grassroots campaign to save the show worked so well that Mr. Parriot was forced to send a second request via the Internet asking that the fans stop calling their local television stations. The buyers in LA had gotten the point and FK was once again saved.
Despite their newly won victory, fans were dismayed to learn that actor John Kapelos would be leaving the show. Through his fan club president Cal Lynn, Mr. Kapelos sent the following message to his fans on May 1, 1995, concerning the departure:
I have been associated with "Forever Knight" since the development of the original "Nick Knight" series in 1988. I was the only cast member to continue with the series when it evolved into "Forever Knight" in 1992. After six years with the show, I feel it is time to move on to other projects. I wish Jim Parriott and my collegues on the show continued success.
|Not long after the announcement by Mr.
Kapelos, attendees at the "Weekend with Ger" gathering with actor Geraint
wyn Davies heard the actor confirm rumours that, like Mr. Kapelos, Ms.
Ohama would also be leaving the show. Attendees also learned at this time
that both Mr. Kapelos and Ms. Ohama were asked to appear in a "closure"
episode and both declined the opportunity.
Still reeling from the first two cast departure announcements, it was learned that actress Deborah Duchene would not return for the third season of FK. The fans were furious. Amidst the loud protestations and much confusion, only a very few facts remain clear about her departure. The best we can determine from the varied information we have is that Ms. Duchene was offered was offered several appearances in the third season as a major, recurring character (distinctly different from a lead character). She turned the offer down but eventually did appear in a "closure" episode at the request of her former co-workers speaking on behalf of her considerable fan following.
Of the third season, fans learned from a press release that actors Blue Mankuma, Lisa Ryder, and Ben Bass would portray Captain Reese, Tracey Vetter, and [Javier] Vachon respectively. These characters, fans were told, might not be considered principal cast members, but they would be regularly appearing characters nontheless.
Fans may never know exactly what the reasons were for such radical changes in the third season cast. However, one well-thought speculation by a loyal fan deserves some mention here. First, in order to exist at all, FK's budget had to be cut by 15% (as reported at the CCC '95 in New Orleans). Since the show had a very low budget to begin with, one of the few places USA and TriStar could save money was by cutting actor's salaries. One of the "cheapest and least destructive" ways to control costs may have been to reduce the number of regularly appearing characters. Second, one of the most popular ways to make more money for a show is to change the demographics that the show targets in order to attract more or better advertisers. If this is the case, then the new characters and cast changes are handily explained. Blu Mankuma, Lisa Ryder, and Ben Bass are all quite popular (for varying reasons) with one particular demography that has considerable spending power: the mid-twenties male.
Whatever the reasons for the cast changes, the show survived for a third season. And while only six episodes were made before the third season launched fans looked forward to their air date on USA Network Monday, September 18 at 10PM ET/PT (9PM CST).
The Cancellation of the ShowFans learned on December 22nd, 1995, that much to their dismay USA Networks were no longer providing the much-need financial backing for the show. Yet again, fans were moved to save the show from cancellation, but this time their actions were decidedly different: they were organized. This time, the fight to save the show became a crusade, not just to save the show, but to prove to the television industry that people with dedication to a television show could move beyond the dictionary definition of "fanatic."
The Friends of Forever Knight began a campaign that has been compared to some of the best lobbying groups in Washington DC today. The National Association of Television Programming Executives (NATPE) couldn't have been more suprised by the valiant efforts of 7 dedicated fans who descended on the NATPE annual convention on January 24th (1996). Armed with professionaly printed brochures, bags, flyers, and strong knowledge of the demographics involved with the show, the NAPTE team members were eventually recognized by Columbia Tristar Executives as a serious, well-informed, and professional. "TriStar is lucky to have viewers like you," said one executive. And another even mentioned he wished fans as dedicated had been around when his shows were being threatened with cancellation.
The Save Fovever Knight home page details the experiences of the , as they've become known. Information about who the NATPE 7 are and the "marketing package" they distributed is also available. In addition, the Save FK page details important information about the incredible charity drive efforts that raised (and is still raising) more than $8000 for the Pediatric Aids Foundation, favored charity of FK star Geraint Wyn Davies (Nick Knight).
But in terms of saving FK, the results have disappointed fans around the world. Despite their efforts, the final episode of the season has been completed, the sets are being torn down or destroyed, and the infamous Caddies have been auctioned off with plans to auction off costumes and other props as well.
While the fans and Friends of Forever Knight still maintain a vigorous long-term campaign to save the show, the future of the series looks grim indeed. But, as many fans have pointed out, this isn't the first time Forever Knight has been cancelled. It took 18 months to bring the show back for a second season. The fans are prepared to fight for longer if they have to in order to get a fourth season of new shows.