Ass-Pan (acrossthelake) wrote,

Kindred: The Embraced: A Highly Biased and Partial Review by acrossthelake

So after discussing it briefly with milkcracker I’ve been inspired to do a long review/rant about the short-lived TV show Kindred: The Embraced. If the name isn’t a dead giveaway it was based off of White Wolf’s Vampire: The Masquerade, which I know that much of my friends list is not familiar with,but when has this stopped me in the past? I will endeavor to make the review at least a bit accessible.

Apparently K:TE was first broadcast around the same time that the first season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer aired, and you can see which went on to occupy the California-based vampire TV show niche. As goofy and nonsensical as Buffy always was, it was at least solidly entertaining which is more than can be said for this crap. One of the biggest things about V:TM and the other World of Darkness games was that as full of themselves and pretentiously artsy as they could be, they were still meant to be just really stupid, cheesy fun. K:TE is stupid, but it is not cheesy or indeed fun. It’s just really, really boring. How is it boring, I hear you cry? To begin with, all the characters are completely bland across the board. The plot mostly centers around the vampire prince of the city, Julian Luna, who is one of those annoying milquetoasts who regrets his sordid past of evil vampiric deeds and is always trying to atone for them. This mostly comes in the form of dating the boring (and human) hard-nosed reporter Caitlin and angsting a lot with her about how hard his life is. There’s a boring human cop who Doesn’t Play By The Rules and so gets involved in vampiric affairs—Masquerade-breakingly so, in fact, to the point where there’s no way that he would be allowed to live without being ghouled or Embraced himself. Julian is surrounded by equally boring primogen (representatives of the Camarilla clans, for the layman) whose personalities can be summed up as Generic Buisinessman, Femme Fatale, Tough-ish Guy and The Ugly One.

On the subject of the clans, the show's set in San Francisco which is a Camarilla city. This is fine, but not only are the Malkavians and Tremere nowhere to be seen, the remaining clans bear very little resemblance to the clans whose names they bear. The Brujah, for instance, are all middle-aged white dudes with mob ties, which I’m sure is true for many Brujah but out on the west coast of America which is pretty much Brujah anarch central this is not a representative sample. Also for some reason they have an age-old feud with the Gangrel, who are portrayed as more Brujah-like—they all go around on motorcycles looking like Lost Boys extras and picking fights and not having any animal features at all. So the Brujah are the Giovanni, the Gangrel are the Brujah and the Nosferatu are nowhere near as ugly as they ought to be. One major plot point involves Daedalus, the Nossie primogen, falling in love with a nightclub singer who he’s sure will never love him ‘cause he’s so horribly grotesque. The guy is a pale, slightly dociocephalic bald dude with oddly-shaped ears—you could give him a fucking wig and he’d look fine. Using “alchemy” (wtf?) he basically does this and manages to get with this lady for a night, whereupon she awakens the next morning to see him sans hair and freaks the everloving hell out despite the fact that he looks exactly the same as he did the previous night minus a weird Fabio-looking mullet. (This show is incredibly early 90s, did I mention that? The shoulder pads and giant frizzy perms are inescapable.) It wouldn’t be so bad if the other Nosferatu looked at all different from each other, but it’s pretty much long ears and largish bald heads across the board, without a pustule or missing nose to be seen.

Daedalus, however, remains pretty much the most interesting character of all due to at least having some semblance of personality. (This personality is extremely creepy and leads him to do stuff like stalking the aforementioned singer and abducting a terminally ill little boy from a hospital for company. However, as this is something I would actually expect/enjoy from a show set in WoD, I quite liked it all.) The only other character who has any hint of interest about them is Julian’s great-great-granddaughter who’s sort of a tough biker chick with sadly awful taste in guys.[1] I mean, this is San Francisco. Canonically, this is where Oscar Wilde went after his Embrace! He could have been the Toreador primogen (though if they’d kept the rest of the primogen the same they would probably have all been erased from existence by the force of his sheer charisma compared to theirs.) Lily, the actualfax Toreador primogen, basically exists to hang around being the token girl and also being jealous of Julian’s mortal girlfriend who she (indirectly) attempts to kill at one point in one of the most hilarious episodes which revolves around an evil Nosferatu making a Druidic blood sacrifice of a baby (?) to restore Clan Nosferatu to its original power over the other clans (?) instead of the bleeding-heart Ventrue who are all about trying to keep the Masquerade by acting humane and kind (???). The only allusion to another clan is an appearance by an extremely subpar Assamite assassin who makes two botched attempts on Julian’s life and then gets shot by the eeeevil Brujah primogen who hired her in the first place. [2]

So a great deal of noise is made about the clans and their idiosyncracies but they might as well have not even kept the clans because there’s very little to distinguish them besides a lot of lip service to a defining characteristic. Everyone, for instance, seems to have the same powers—pretty much all of them can turn into wolves, use Protean claws and Dominate people more or less indiscriminately. The loss of all these nuances in what I assume was an attempt to make the setting more mainstream sucked out all the interest of the setting leaving behind a rather hollow shell. They try to pump up the interest by taking the whole “vampirism is sexy” route, but this tends to fall flat due to the lack of anything resembling charisma or chemistry between actors. Nearly everyone is straight and pasty white (again, in San Francisco) and the Bechdel test is basically nowhere with the one exception of a rather nice scene between Lily and Sasha where they talk about dealing with the Beast's encroachment after the Embrace. The rest of my whining is mostly nitpicky stuff. Vampires can be out during the day if they've fed recently and otherwise just start smouldering a bit. Ghouling doesn't seem to exist. Dominate can be used without making eye contact. Did I mention everyone has at least Protean 2? That really bugs me for some reason.

I considered doing a blow-by-blow review of each episode but that would entail watching the whole thing again which I think would just make me hate this whole thing even more. Alternately my BF has suggested doing a MST3K-style mockery of it in character as some of our past V:TM PCs, which if I could get a large enough group of friends together I'd be sorely tempted to do.

[1] Her name was Sasha, which kept making me imagine Sascha Vykos in place of her. This was way funnier than it perhaps should have been.

[2] Presumably he didn’t have the money to hire ms. Al-Faquadi, who would have offed Julian within the first five minutes and then gone on to pray, fix her hair and then walk off into the sunrise looking badass for the rest of the episode.

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