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Forever Knight: Spin Doctor

"Tried and convicted by the press—that's a trial you can never hope to win."

Politics, vampires, and tabloid reporters. I'm not sure which is the worst bloodsucker of them all.

This might be the first episode I ever saw. I know the show seems dated, but at the time it was pretty edgy. I remember my eyebrows jumping off my forehead when the TV went into the tub.

Around that time I really, really wanted a little TV like that. To me, it was the pinnacle of coolness, a personal television you could carry anywhere (if you could find a plug) and enjoy all to yourself. I had no idea I'd eventually own a phone that could do so much more, and without wrestling rabbit-ear antennas. Forgive me, this old timer does go on. Someone get my newspaper.

Anyway, this episode suffers from being about politics, and for being about an ordinary cop who doesn't need to be a vampire to crack the case. There's a car explosion and everyone's fine, but Nick being vampire has nothing to do with the outcome. I can watch a police procedural anywhere, folks. I'm here for vampires.

For me, the best part is when Nick appears to be using a microfilm at his apartment.

How many people still even know what that titanic monstrosity is? Libraries haven't used those since the Eisenhower administration. And how on earth does he have all the microfilm he would need? Does Nick keep drawers full of his own personal library records? So many questions.

All in all, 'Spin Doctor' explores the way politics makes us unbiased. That's a billion percent true. I'm old enough to have seen every major political party discover a child molester was in their midst, and every time this comes to light the politician's supporters will do anything to cover it up. Mind you, I'm not talking about staffers and colleagues on capitol hill, I'm talking about ordinary voters who suddenly want me to ignore terrible crimes so their party doesn't have to look bad on the news. Politics absolutely does ruin people's sense of fairness, so the episode is on point about that.

But it's disappointing to see Natalie and Schanke taking part in this, since they're usually very noble. For all of the times Schanke is a comic relief detective who's loose with the rules, he's a sterling example of serving the community. The script lowers their ethical standards in order to give Nick a chance to lecture both of them, like they're children. It's no fun.

Also, zero Janette in this episode. That's gonna hurt your rating every time.


I have a lot of questions about Professor Nick. I assume he teaches night school (get it?!?!), but is it really possible to become a professor, going through a Ph.D program and everything, without ever going outside? Does he have a correspondence degree? It's hard to imagine how this works. And by the time this aired, McCarthyism was a very dead horse, beaten beyond dead by countless TV shows and movies. The cumbersome flashbacks don't provide a fresh perspective on Red Scare hearings, they just retread old roads.

It's also not clear how he made it to a hearing. Do they hold these things at night? Did one of the writers forget Nick was a vampire?


"You have to decide if you want to be zealous or thorough."

Little Bites:

-Fashion Police: The woman running for office is a sad reminder of what everyone's mom used to wear.

-Vampire lore: None. Unless vampires are communists, which they're not. They eat people.

-Familiar faces: Lisa Howard is a lot of fun in this episode. If she looks familiar, then you're old (and weird) enough to have watched Highlander: The Series. She was Duncan's most long-term girlfriend after his wife died. She's hardly recognizable in this role, so crazy and frenetic, nothing like the composed and intelligent Dr. Anne Lindsey.

Final Analysis: No vampires. Beloved characters are dumber than usual. And the Red Scare narrative drags things down a predictable, dreary path. One out of five portable TVs.

Adam D. Jones is a writer, historian, and undefeated cat wrestler. He's also something of a local politician himself, having recently been elected as night time feeder by his cats, who are both eager to remind him of his sworn and sacred duty.

1 comment:

  1. The flashbacks and McCarthyism references are annoying, but less frequent than I'd thought. But yeah, it would be a much better episode without them. Very dull after Dying for Fame. (My DVD set has Spin Doctor as episode 15.)

    To be fair to the writer, the first flashback has the presiding investigative whatever say "we are gathered here tonight..." so they did remember.


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