239 of 242 people found the following review helpful
on September 15, 2002
Wanting something new in the vampire genre, I went on a search for films and came across Kindred: The Embraced. It seemed vaguely familiar. After viewing it, I realized that I had seen the initial episode when it originally aired, but when I purchased it I did so thinking I was doing it sight unseen.
I've since watched all eight episodes and can say that I am not disappointed. The fact that this series was based on sets of role playing novels is a mark in its favor. I say this because the series is not about the blood aspect of vampires or, as they are here, the Kindred. There is indeed action, tame violence, but if you're looking for gore and aggression, if that's what you want out of your vampire film experience, Kindred: The Embraced is not the place you`ll find it.
What this series focuses on is the community that the clans of the Kindred have made for themselves, the peace they have forged to live without fear amongst humans. They have a set of laws designed to guard the Masquerade, a grand scheme to hide their identity from the world, and they have a prince to enforce those laws. That prince is Julian Luna, played by Mark Frankel, and he is the ultimate strength of the series.
The character of Julian Luna is a complex one. His sense of humanity has the potential to clash dangerously with his responsibility towards the clans. He is aware of what he must do, but knows that it comes with a price, whether it be for his people or for himself specifically. And his struggle to tread that line is where the emotion lies for the viewer. Frankel was a wonderful choice for the role of Julian Luna. He is, in many respects, the quintessential vampire--beautiful, charismatic, elegant and lethal.
My favorite episode is the last, "Cabin in the Woods." Therein lies the potential of the show. Julian's character has started to peak, we begin to see what he is capable of, and it is bittersweet to know that nothing will follow. It would have been remarkable to see what direction this show would have taken.
Certain aspects are not entirely realistic, such as the premise behind C. Thomas Howell's character, but it is easy to take that as a first season fault. And, really, it may also be because of the depth they were aiming for, which, if that is the case, is most forgivable.
The only thing that I did not appreciate was how the DVDs were put together. Credits run before and after every episode. Within each you get long pauses where commercials no doubt were and they are preceded with the name of the show against a black backdrop. I don't see the necessity of keeping the shows in the original format, but since I own no other TV series to DVD set perhaps this is not so specific to Kindred.
If you are thinking about buying Kindred: The Embraced without having seen it, with little knowledge of the background or the series in general, there is, in my opinion, scarce need for debating the matter. I bought it on impulse (a rarity, actually, for me) and it paid off. It's not all I've ever looked for in the vampire genre, but it fulfills some of my requirements and I not only enjoy it, but am most glad I now own it.
82 of 84 people found the following review helpful
Back in the Summer of 1996 (I think) I picked up on this series, which is based on the White Wolf role playing world of the Masquerade. Within the bounds of that game various clans of vampires struggled with each other and their inner natures to maintain the secrecy if their existence. For discovery would mean annihilation at the hands of the Earth's other dominant species - humanity.
An entire industry and literature sprang up around the Masquerade, but it was still a surprise to find it playing on my TV set. Even more remarkable was the overall quality of the series, which included an excellent cast led by Mark Frankel playing Julian, primogen of clan Ventrue and Prince of the city, and C. Thomas Hollowell as Frank Kohanek, the human detective who wanders into the night world. Love interest is added by Kelly Rutherford, who plays a beautiful young human newspaperwoman.
Much of the series focuses on the politics of the clans - Eddie Fiori, the Bruhah primogen is jealous of Julian's power and the struggle occupies some five of the eight episodes. But there is plenty of room for horror, suspense, and romance as well. All beautifully filmed, depending more on good settings and acting than special effects.
Because vampires as main characters limit too much of the filming to the darkness, the film's writers deviated from the orthodox formula for a vampire. They can wander in the light for short periods of time and still seem to have their reflections. This isn't the only time this has been done, but Masquerade's rules are extremely traditional, and it's no surprise that fans of the game are unhappy with some factors of the program. My personal feeling is that it underlines the idea that humans are never safe,
But the program itself is excellent. At the time it finished airing I assumed it was just a Summer trial balloon that would never reappear. What I didn't know was that it had been a success and was scheduled for a full season when Mark Frankel was killed in an accident. Since he had literally stolen the show, there was no easy way to continue.
If you want to see what an adult vampire series could have been then pick up this set, which is available at a bargain price. You will have no cause for complaint.
93 of 101 people found the following review helpful
on July 16, 2000
This is definitely a series which any true gothic, vampire mythos afficionado would love! I bought the VHS set of this series from AMAZON, and needless to say I was truly impressed! It was everything I expected it to be, albeit for some rather dragging moments where more action would have been in order (e.g. the pilot). Still, this set is obviously well worth the price, since it contains all aired episodes plus a bonus one.
Kindred: The Embraced is based on the Vampire: The Masquerade rpg. The late Mark Frankel steals the show as the charismatic Julian Luna, San Francisco's vampire Prince of the City - cool clothes, too! The rival vampire gang Bruja is headed by the vicious Eddie Fiore, played by Brian Thompson (who reprises his vampire role in shows such as Fright Night II and Buffy!). A somewhat irritating and ultimately predictable role is played by C. Thomas Howell as detective Frank Kohanek.
As stated earlier, the series does have its dull moments, but I think the premise and overall story is very original and fascinating, which primarily explains the 5 stars. As I said in my original review of the VHS, other vampire-themed shows such as Buffy, Forever Knight and Dark Shadows pale in comparison. I hope they eventually revive this series; I think its cult following is sufficiently large enough to justify it!
44 of 47 people found the following review helpful
on April 8, 2002
I can't understand why there are so many Vampire fans that hate Kindred. I love Vampires and I think Kindred portrays them very well. I read a lot of bad reviews before I bought this DVD so I was expecting it to be lousy. To my surprise it was very very good. The DVD collects all eight episodes of the short-lived series. The series tells the story of five different Vampire clans in San Francisco. The clans battle one another for power like mobs. They are united by Julian (the much missed Mark Frankel) the "prince" of all of the clans. Julian is faced with the task of uniting the clans in a truce over the course of the eight episodes. As the series moves forward the Clans attempts at peace are threatened more and more by the Brujah clan and its thug leader Eddie Fiori (Brian Thompson from "Buffy" and the X-Files). As the series draws to a close the Clans have a final battle with Fiori and his thugs in "The Rise and Fall of Eddie Fiori" and many issues are resolved.
Kindred the Embraced is really great because it is the first show to really have mafia clan Vampires. I think the concept of Vampire Clans fighting a mafia-like war is really great. It pputs a new twist on the Vampire mythology and it makes the show really cool. I really can't understand why people didn't like the show more. If you love Vampires you should buy this DVD. It is really great. I think they should re-release it in a couple of years with all kinds of extra features. I also think they should put it back on TV. We really need a cool Vampire show since Buffy is really becoming lousy.
30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on January 17, 2000
I was totally blown away by this video! Other vampire shows such as Dark Shadows, Forever Knight and Buffy :) pale in comparison. The storyline was very creative and the actors very convincing (remember the actor who played Eddie Fiore? He also appeared as a bloodsucker in Fright Night 2, the one who kept on eating insects ala Renfield). I'm unfamiliar with the rpg but I thought that the theme was a very unique mix of vampire mythology intertwined in a mafia/Godfather-like setting. Cool clothes, too!
This is a must-have for all vampire mythos fans especially the goth-types. It is truly a shame that this series was abrubtly discontinued; it would have been interesting to see hw the other characters would be further developed (e.g. other clans, Romeo & Juliet-like relationships between Bruja and Gangrel, C Thomas Howell's relationship with his now-exposed Kindred partner, etc) I fervently hope that they eventually release this in DVD (with trailers/featurettes/etc) and/or they revive it eventually.
This set includes an episode entitled "Nightstalker" about a vampiric serial killer which never aired. Set begins with the first episode (where Alexandra elicits a promise from Julian to protect her human lover) and ends with the final episode where the new Bruja takes over the deceased Eddie's role.
24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on September 19, 2004
I wathced this show when it was first aired on FOX way back in '96. Already a fan of Forever Knight and Anne Rice, I fell in love with this show. Cash and Sasha were definetely my favorites. The RPGs complain that the show isn't identical to the rules of the Game, but it's an amazing show in it's own right. I wish it would have lasted a lot longer, but, unfortunately, there was a vast conspiracy going on in the '90s where every show I liked was cancelled. (Who else remembers "Profit"? Now that was another one that was killed way too soon.)
One caveat, make sure you buy the version currently on sale and not a used one. The DVD versions released a few years ago are missing the great scene with Sasha in the winery, but the newer versions (ASIN: B00005Q4DS) have the scene.
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
The horror genre has had a spotty track record on television. Aside from anthology series that introduced a new tale of woe every week, most entries that dabbled in supernatural or monster themes were often more beloved than popular. I know it seems hard to imagine now with the revitalized interest in everything supernatural. Vampires, wolves, ghosts, zombies and other beasties rule the airwaves (although still mostly beyond network TV) on premium cable, CW, AMC, FX, and BBCAmerica among others. I think that's why we still remember the programs that defied conventional wisdom, that attempted something different in trying to tie an on-going mythology to the serialized drama. Sure daytime had "Dark Shadows," but for every "X-Files" or "Buffy" that turned into monster cult hits, there were many more that simply vanished without a trace. Even the show that absolutely set the standard in my opinion, "Kolchak" couldn't stay on the air for more than one season in 1974-75 despite a series of successful TV movies. By no means meant to be a comprehensive list, here is just a few shows with supernatural leanings that failed to cross over to big success:
Werewolf (1987), Lasted One Season
Eerie, Indiana (1991), Creepiness for kids, lasted one season
American Gothic (1995), Small town craziness, lasted one season
Millennium (1996-99) and Lone Gunmen (2001), shorter-lived X-files offshoots
Wolf Lake (2001), Werewolves, lasted nine episodes
I guess that makes this a perfect time to revisit the short-lived and ill-fated "Kindred: The Embraced" from 1996. Inspired by the wildly popular Role Playing Game "Vampire: The Masquerade," the show met with some initial skepticism from fans of the game. Not meant to be a literal translation, but instead influenced by the concept and environment of the video sensation, some were disappointed by what was perceived as a lack of faithfulness to the source. Never a particular ratings juggernaut for FOX, this Aaron Spelling production quickly faced cancellation and its fate was further sealed when one of its leading actors (Mark Frankel) perished in an unfortunate motorcycle accident. It's a shame, too. While I won't proclaim the show to be as fantastic as some, it was decidedly different, had an appealing cast, good production values, and an incredibly intriguing premise. While its Pilot lacked some punch (being both overcrowded and somewhat confusing), subsequent episodes got stronger and stronger. But with only eight episodes in the can, it feels somewhat incomplete (as you might expect). Therefore, this release will likely appeal more for a nostalgia factor than to win new fans.
The basic premise of "Kindred: The Embraced" revolved around five major vampire clans. Set in San Francisco, these disparate clans navigate life in the modern world (to varying degrees of success) by maintaining an illusion of humanity. A local cop (C. Thomas Howell) uncovers this vampiric secret while investigating a powerful mob boss (Frankel) who happens to be a vampire leader trying to hold a supernatural war at bay. The two form an uneasy alliance in the spirit of saving the city from utter annihilation. Where the game was focused on clan politics and the complexities of this great environment, the TV show was of a much soapier nature with betrayals, love interests, and other very human concerns. Frankel was a terrifically complex and interesting character, Howell was much more generic and this imbalance was quite notable. With a cast that included Stacey Haiduk, Kelly Rutherford, Jeff Kober, my favorite was the great Patrick Bauchau as Archon Raine (a role I forever associated him with).
What is most impressive about this DVD release is that it is NOT just a reissue of the previously released set as I had expected. It is a full-on Collector's set with a handsome box and plenty of cool extras. If you think fondly of the show, this is a fitting tribute. KGHarris, 8/13.
1) Gorgeous New Bookcase Packaging
2) Letter from The Series Creator
3) Replica of the Book of Nod: A vampire text that was the inspiration for the show.
Extended Pilot Episode
Audio Commentaries on selected episodes by different commentators including James L. Conway, John Leekly, Ralph Hemeker and Peter Medak
Featurette: Daedalus: Last Will and Testament
Featurette: The Kindred Chronicles
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on September 29, 2005
'Short lived, but forever loved' is a perfect title for more reasons than one. I loved this show when it aired and was very heartbroken when it ended. I wish it could have gone to its planned end, but it's probably more fitting that it did not.
Can we say open mouth and swallow entire foot? Well, that is exactly what a previous reviewer did when they said 'It was right that it was pulled 8 episodes in'. First of all in the US it was only aired for 7 episodes, the 8th one never made it to TV. On September 24, 1996 Mark Frankel, who played Julian Luna, the true star of the series, was killed in a motorcycle accident in England. That is why there were only 8 episodes and that is also why only 7 were aired on US TV. And after only 20 minutes watched I can see why they don't have a clue what the show was about and could not have given an HONEST review without having watched it all.
And comparing it to Buffy? I watched and enjoyed Buffy and it can't even be placed in the same category with Kindred. They are NOT the same kind of Vampire shows. Kindred runs more along the lines of RPG, with sexy, charismatic and brooding vampire's and some of the same clans (Ventrue, Nosferatu, Gangrel, Brujah, Toreador), who live along side of humans and don't try to bite every one they meet. Buffy just had bad vamps, which most of the time came across as brainless idiots that needed to be destroyed, who can't live along side of humans and would rather bite every one they come in contact with.
Kindred was an excellent series with a huge fan following at the time it aired. If you love Vampire's or even just like them like I do, you would not be wasting your money buying this box set. It's not all about the blood sucking, in fact there isn't a lot of blood sucking going on. It's about Vampire's living along side humans. They have jobs, a leader, forbidden love, relationships with humans, conflicts, passion, gangs...they are lawyers, business owners, musicians, painters, bikers, gypsies, artists...the list could go on.
Mark Frankel was charming, charismatic, dangerously alluring, exotic, and tragic and so was Julian Luna, his character. Mark Frankel will be deeply missed by this fan!
By the box set and fall in love with Mark Frankel/Julian Luna like I did!
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on January 29, 2004
I never watched "Kindred: the Embraced" when it aired back on Fox in 1996, so I can't say I've been a longtime fan. But what made me buy this DVD was reading Mark Rein-Hagen's same-named roleplaying book, which this TV series is based on, not to mention I'm somewhat of a C. Thomas Howell and Patrick Bachau fan. Unfortunately, I thought both of their performances/roles were rather bland. I enjoyed Bachau much better in another vampire movie, "Blood Ties." I was amazed by Mark Frankel's performance, however, as well as a handful of others, like Brigid Walsh, who plays Julian's (Frankel's) buxom biker niece. I do agree with previous reviewers that this series is more like a 90210-vampire hybrid than a true representation of the roleplaying guidebook. It's more melodramatic than scary, and ideal for those who prefer their horror somewhat watered down. As for the DVD discs themselves, I was impressed by the opening menus on both of them. There aren't any extra features, but the booklet inside gives a great introduction to the roleplaying game for those who are unfamiliar with it. Below is the episode lineup for those who are interested (FYI: there are some spoilers):
· Episode 1: "Original Saga" begins with two Brujah vampires--one being the leader of the group, Eddie Fiori (Brian Thompson)--executing a Gangrel bodyguard of Julian Luna's (Mark Frankel), the Ventrue Prince of San Francisco, where this all takes place. Detective Frank Kohanek (C. Thomas Howell), along with his partner, Sonny Toussaint (Erik King)--who has a secret of his own, which is partially revealed at the end of this episode--sets out to bring down Julian any way he can. Part of Frank's obsession with him stems from his dating Julian's ex, Alexandra Serris (Kate Vernon), whose life is later endangered when she threatens the Masquerade.
· Episode 2: "Prince of the City" -- Once again, Eddie is battling with Julian over dominance of San Francisco. Frank is under investigation for murder when an attempt to entrap Eddie goes awry. And two new romances start up: the first being between one of my favorite characters, Sasha (Brigid Walsh), Julian's niece, and Cash (Channon Roe), Julian's new Gangrel bodyguard; the second being between Julian and Caitlin Byrne (Kelly Rutherford), a newspaper reporter and some competition for Julian's current Toreador lover, Lillie Langtry (Stacy Haiduk), who gives meaning to the phrase keep your friends close but your enemies even closer.
· Episode 3: "Nightstalker" -- Daedalus (Jeff Kober) falls for a singer, Elaine Robb (Kimberly Kates), at The Haven, the same club where a week-old Gangrel named Starkweather (Nicky Katt) turns up one night. He's later dubbed the Nightstalker when he starts killing for pleasure--Elaine even believes that he's the one who's been mysteriously appearing in her house at night--and Julian and his fellow Kindred try to stop him before Starkweather exposes them all.
· Episode 4: "Romeo & Juliet" -- A Kindred doctor is feeding off of children in a hospital, and Daedalus is called in to kill him. As a result, Daedalus befriends one of the doctor's young victims (Emile Hirsch) against Masquerade rules. Meanwhile, Eddie is trying to start a clan war by embracing Sasha against her will and making her Brujah, a rival clan of the Gangrels (Cash's clan).
· Episode 5: "Live Hard, Die Young, and Leave a Good Looking Corpse" -- Lillie's recently-sired Toreador singer, Zane (Ivan Sergei), creates problems for her and the Kindred when he embraces one girl groupie after the other (one being Chandra West) without their permission or giving them any guidance. Zane goes even further by getting involved with Sasha, which creates a greater rift between her and Julian and Cash, both of whom want to separate her from Zane.
· Episode 6: "The Rise and Fall of Eddie Fiori" -- The title says it all. Eddie tries, once again, to establish dominance in San Francisco with the help of his sire and Prince of L.A., Cyrus (Ed O'Ross), a hired assassin (Blair Valk), and Lillie, who's jealousy has finally mounted concerning Julian and Caitlin. She even hires a private investigator (Jack Conley) to spy on Julian.
· Episode 7: "Bad Moon Rising" -- A young woman's baby is stolen by a Nosferatu, Goth (Skipp Sudduth), in order to sacrifice it during the next full moon as a way for his kind to regain power among the Kindred; hence Julian and his group, as well as Frank, try to intercept the blood ceremony.
· Episode 8: "Cabin in the Woods" -- Caitlin takes Julian on a trip to Manzanita Springs, near his family's old winery estate. After being wounded by a group of Brujah in the area, Julian confesses to her what he really is. Meanwhile, the new primogen of the Brujah, Cameron (Titus Welliver), comes back to settle a vendetta involving Julian and Archon (Patrick Bachau).
This 2-disc set isn't rated, but a PG-13 rating would be fitting due to violence, a few sex scenes, etc.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on December 16, 2000
When Kindred: the Embraced appeared a few years ago on Fox I thought it was a great show with a lot of potential(not familiar with rpg that it is based on). Sadly, when Mark Frankel was tragically killed in an accident there was no hope of the series ever reaching its true potential. However, this video pack of 8 episodes(well actually 9 hrs worth because the pilot is a double episode) lets the fans of the show remember it fondly. The quality of the videos is actually really good and there is very little space between where the commerials would have been placed(unlike some other TV show videos).
The breakdown of the shows goes something like this: Tape 1: Original saga(pilot)-probably the worst episode in the pack, but necessary for background info. The tape gets better with Prince of the City. Tape 2 has the unaired episode Nighstalker(not bad, but not the best), the very good Romeo & Juliet with a plot twist, Live hard, die young...(pretty good episode with a few emotional scenes between characters). Tape 3 is the best tape with the action-packed Rise & fall of Eddie Fiore, Bad moon rising is also a decent episode, and of course Cabin in the Woods(the finale) which is by far the best(it wraps up some plots, but others were left open).
Mark Frankel was wonderful as Julian Luna and had some of the best lines like "we're all around you" and "you exist because I allow it". The supporting cast for the most part is pretty good with the weaker characters being Frank and Alexandra in the pilot. For the most part these are a great collection of modern vampire shows. Do not go into it expecting Buffy or Dark Shadows. These are a very modern vampire story with shades of the Godfather in it. Kindred might not have had the absolute genius of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but it was still a very good and original show(and paved the way for shows like Buffy and Angel). If you were a fan of the show at all or just like vampire stories buy this set. You won't be disappointed.