30 Days of Vampires–Vampires in Your Living Room

December 8, 2008 | Vampires, 30 Days of Vampires | 46 comments

30 Days of Vampires Schedule

By Jenna Reynolds

Alone on the couch in your living room, a bowl of your favorite snack within reach, you pick up the remote and turn on the television.

Woman watching TV

As you listen to the pulsing theme music and watch the opening credits of your favorite television show, you feel a cool breeze tickle the back of your neck and with it you also pick up the muddy scent of freshly turned earth and what smells like….blood.

The hairs rise on the back of your arm. You shake your head and tell yourself you’re imagining things. You settle back comfortably on the couch, your eyes glued to the television screen.

Suddenly, you sense something behind you. Before you can react or cry out, strong hands grip your shoulders. Cold lips brush against your exposed neck and then…you feel it. Fangs sinking into your throat.

And, as you stare, paralyzed, hypnotized, at the latest episode of CSI-New York, the vampire begins to feed.

Okay, so that’s not quite what happens when a vampire enters your living room through the medium of television, but the history of vampires on television has been an interesting one. One of the reasons it has proven so interesting is due to the very nature of television.

Consider some statistics:

o Percentage of U.S. households that have a television: 99%
o Number of televisions in the average U.S. household: 2.4
o Percentage of homes with three or more televisions: 66%
o Number of hours per day that television is on: 6.5 hours
o Number of hours of television watched annually: 250 billion
o Value of that time assuming a wage of $5/hour – $1.25 trillion

Television is not only an integral part of American households, it’s an intimate part. As John Fiske and John Hartley noted in their book Reading Television, “TV functions as a social ritual…in which our culture engages in order to communicate with its collective self…”

However, before we begin to explore the vampire on television, let’s take a brief trip back in time.

A Short History of Television

Electronic television was first successfully demonstrated in San Francisco in 1927 by a 21 year old by the name of Philo Taylor Farnsworth who had lived in a house without electricity until he was 14.

However, it wasn’t until 1947 that full-scale commercial television began broadcasting in the United States. And, as the years marched on, the number of televisions rose from 6,000 in 1946 to 12 million by 1951. No new invention entered American homes faster than the television.

During the 1950s, 60s and into the early 70s, American households were limited to watching pretty much what appeared on the three major networks: CBS, NBC, and ABC. Programming on each of these networks was designed to grab a mass audience and consisted primarily of variety shows, half-hour situation comedies, and hour-long dramas, which usually featured detectives, doctors, lawyers or, in the 50s and 60s, cowboys. And the characters pretty much reflected the way America saw itself at the time. White, Anglo-Saxon, Heterosexual and Protestant.

In 1961, Newton Minow, chairman of the FCC, described television as a “vast wasteland.”

And where were the vampires through all of this?

Well, they weren’t just sleeping away in their coffins. Vampires, of course, were on the silver screen, in films such as Nosferatu (1922), Dracula, starring Bela Lugosi (1931), Dracula’s Daughter (1936) and Horror of Dracula, featuring Christopher Lee (1958).

These and hundreds of other movies made about vampires attested to the fact that this blood-sucking creature of the night remained popular even when he wasn’t yet appearing in the living rooms of American households.

In her book, The Lure of the Vampire; Gender, Fiction and Fandom from Bram Stoker to Buffy, author Milly Williamson offers some explanations as to the enduring appeal of the vampire. The vampire, according to her, possesses “….a painful awareness of outsiderdom, a recognition of inhabiting an unwelcome self, a life at least partly lived at the edges.”

Margaret Carter in her essay “The Vampire as Alien in Contemporary Fiction” from the book Blood Read: The Vampire in Contemporary Culture, agrees. She sees the vampire “as rebellious outsider, as persecuted minority, as endangered species, and as a member of a different “race” that legend portrays as sexually omnicompetent” and, Carter goes on to say, it is these very attributes that make “the vampire….a fitting hero for late twentieth-century popular fiction.”

And, as we shall see, for popular media as well.

However, in order for the vampire to make his way into people’s living rooms, he needed to undergo a very important transformation. And not one that involved turning into a bat or a wolf.

The vampire needed to become more human.

As Milly Williamson notes in The Lure of the Vampire: “Dracula no longer holds centre stage in the world of vampires. The twentieth century produced a new generation of morally ambiguous, sympathetic vampires who lure audiences with the pathos of their predicament and their painful awareness of the outsiderdom.” She goes on to say that “….we conjure the vampires that we want or need for the cultural and historical times that we find ourselves in.”

It wasn’t until the 1960s that vampires began to make their first sortie into television, and consequently, into American homes. And I don’t believe it is mere coincidence that the 1960s was also the decade when many marginalized groups such as minorities, women, and gays began to demand the same treatment and respect accorded to whites, men and heterosexuals.

And what better representative of a misunderstood and marginalized individual than the vampire, who, firstly, is often made a creature of the night through no choice of his own and, secondly, sometimes feels guilty when he’s forced to feed from humans.

As Williamson further notes: “reluctance and the refusal to ‘feed’ has become an important development in the conventions of the sympathetic sub-genre of vampire fiction….” She goes on to say that: “the reluctant vampire embodies [the] melodramatic impulse as fully as any fictional figure. Its unwanted vampirism is the violation it has suffered, it is expelled from humanity, is misrecognized as evil by a world to which it does not belong…”

So, as minorities, women and gays, who were often depicted as sub-human, animalistic, and in some cases, downright evil, cried out for justice and freedom in the 60s, the vampire could honestly say he (or she) knew exactly where they were coming from.

As noted before it wasn’t until the turbulent decade of the 1960s that vampires made their first appearance as a semi-regular staple on American television. However, you may be surprised to learn just who was the first vampire to appear on a regular TV series.

And, nope, it wasn’t Barnabas Collins.

Here then, decade by decade, is a look at the vampire in your living room. And, just to give you some perspective as to what television was like at the time, I first list some of the popular shows of that decade.

The 1960s – Wagon Train, Bonanza, Gunsmoke, The Andy Griffith Show, Gomer Pyle, The Beverly Hillbillies, Bewitched, The Fugitive, Gilligan’s Island, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Green Acres

The Addams Family (1964-1966). The Adams Family marks the first appearance of a vampiric-like character as a regular on a television show. Based on the characters in Charles Addams’ New Yorker cartoons, The Adams Family was a 30-minute show shot in black-and-white and aired for two seasons on ABC.

The Addams Family show logoThe Addams family consisted of Gomez Adams, his wife, Morticia, their children Wednesday and Pugsley, Grandmama, who was a witch; Uncle Fester, who could turn on a light bulb by sticking it in his mouth; their tall, ghoulish butler, Lurch; Thing, a disembodied hand and Gomez’s best friend, and a rather hairy cousin named, aptly enough, Cousin Itt.

Although it was never openly stated that Morticia was a vampire, it was hard not to see her as one with her pale skin, long black hair, and black gothic dress. Morticia never failed to drive her husband, Gomez, into an erotic frenzy by speaking French. She was also fond of cutting the blossoming buds off roses and leaving only the thorny stems.

In response to The Adams Family, CBS came up with its own family of monsters. Or, in this case, munsters.

The Munsters (1964-1966) The Munsters was a lampoon of both monster movies and family shows such as Father Knows Best. It ran during the same 64-66 televisions season as The Addams Family.

Although the Addams Family came across as more well-heeled, the Munsters were a working-class family. Herman Munster, who was a caricature of the Frankenstein’s Monster, even had a job. He worked at a funeral home called Gateman, Goodbury and Graves.

Herman’s wife, Lilly Munster, (née Dracula) is the daughter of the “real” Count Dracula, who is usually referred to as Grandpa. He lives with Lilly and Herman, along with their son, Eddie, who’s a werewolf, and Marilyn Munster, Lilly’s niece. Marilyn is a stunningly beautiful blonde who is pitied by the rest of the Munster clan for her “unattractive” appearance.

Lily is a vampire, but she’s never seen feeding upon anyone. Lily’s father, “Sam” Dracula dresses like Bela Lugosi in the 1930s version of Dracula. He spends a lot of time in the basement in his lab, creating concoctions that usually function as a deus ex machina for whatever absurd situation Herman manages to get himself entangled in.

Morticia Adams, Lily Munster and Sam Dracula were blatantly comedic characters and certainly not meant to be taken seriously.It wasn’t until 1966 that television gave viewers its first non-comedic portrayal of a vampire.

Dark Shadows show logoDark Shadows (1966-1971) Dark Shadows, which debuted in 1966, aired weekdays on ABC television.

Categorized as a gothic soap opera, the show was created by Dan Curtis, who reported that he had a dream in which a girl took a long train ride to visit a mansion. During its run of 1,225 episodes, the show featured nearly every key gothic, horror and fantasy plot element. Initially, however, the show was faced with low ratings and was close to cancellation. The character of the tormented vampire Barnabas Collins was introduced in the hope of boosting ratings.

It worked.

Barnabas Collins was made a vampire in the sixteenth century by a spurned lover who used witchcraft to transform him. Unlike most portrayals of vampires at the time, Barnabas becomes less of a killer. You could say he became the forerunner of the morally tormented vampire, which we will see more of on television as the decades progress.

In 1991 NBC attempted to breathe new life into Barnabas Collins by presenting a new version of Dark Shadow with Ben Cross as Barnabas. It failed to capture an audience and was on television for only part of a season.

In 2003, the WB Network considered reviving Dark Shadows, but rejected the pilot.
The 1970s – Good Times, Happy Days, Wonder Woman, All in the Family, Marcus Welby, M.D., Laverne & Shirley, The Waltons, MASH, Mary Tyler Moore Show, Starsky & Hutch, Charlie’s Angels

After the cancellation of Dark Shadows in 1971, most of the vampires who appeared on television in the 1970s were chiefly featured in television movies or mini-series. Except for one mathematically obsessed vampire.

Kolchak – The Night Stalker (1972) – In 1972, one of the highest rated television movies ever aired. Carl Kolchak, played by Darren McGavin, was a hard-nosed Chicago reporter who found himself on the trail of a vampire named Janos Skorzeny, played by Barry Atwater. The television movie was so successful it engendered a sequel and two short-lived television shows.

Sesame Street (1972) – One of Sesame Street’s most enduring and endearing Muppet characters is the Count Van Count. He first appeared on Sesame Street in 1972. He’s modeled after Bela Legosi’s portrayal of Dracula. The Count educates children on basic mathematical concepts by obsessively counting any and everything.

One of the legends surrounding vampires is that they have a fixation with counting small objects, such as seeds. One can, therefore, distract a vampire by tossing seeds or salt in front of them. Supposedly they will stop to count the seeds or grains of salt, allowing you time to escape. (This was actually featured in a very funny episode of X-Files called “Bad Blood” when Scully and Mulder investigate what appear to be a series of vampire attacks.)

Others, however, believe that the Count’s obsessive counting is more a pun on his aristocratic title, the Count, than anything.

‘Salem’s Lot (1979) – Based on the 1975 novel by Stephen King, the mini-series ‘Salem’s Lot aired on ABC in 1979. It starred David Soul (of Starsky and Hutch fame) as Ben Mears, James Mason as Richard Straker, and Reggie Nalder as Mr. Barlow. Another television version aired in 2004, starring Rob Lowe as Ben Mears, Donald Sutherland as Richard Straker and Rutger Hauer as Mr. Barlow.

The Curse of Dracula (1979) – In 1979, NBC debuted a television series called Cliffhangers. In an attempt to revitalize the serial format, each hour-long episode was divided into three 20 minute segments featuring three different storylines.

One of those serials was titled The Curse of Dracula. Michael Nouri played Count Dracula who lives undercover in 1979 San Francisco as a college teacher and teaches evening classes in European history. On his trail is Kurt Von Helsing, the grandson of Dracula’s old nemesis, Professor Abraham Van Helsing.

Cliffhangers was cancelled after only 10 episodes of the three serials aired. It proved too expensive to produce and it also happened to air opposite Happy Days and Laverne & Shirley, two of the most popular shows at the time.

The 1980s – Dallas, Little House on the Prairie, Love Boat, Falcon Crest, Different Strokes, Three’s Company, The A-Team, Cagney and Lacey, The Cosby Show

The 1980s saw an even more pronounced scarcity of vampires on television. But a TV movie that aired on CBS in the last year of the decade may have been responsible for the emergence of other vampires on television in the years to follow.

Count Duckula (1988) Count Duckula was a British animated television series. Set in Transylvania, Duckula lived in a spooky castle known as Castle Duckula, along with his butler Igor.

Nick Knight (1989) – In 1989, CBS aired a television movie titled Nick Knight. It stared the actor and 1980s pop artist Rick Springfield in the title role. Nick Knight was a Los Angeles homicide detective who worked the nightshift, drove a ’59 Cadillac, was a brooding loner, and had a secret.

Yep, you guessed it. He was a vampire, tormented by his need for blood and searching for a way to regain his mortality. What’s significant about this movie is that it became the basis for the 1992 television series, Forever Knight.

The 1990s – Home Improvement, Murphy Brown, Cheers, E.R, Seinfeld, Friends, Caroline in the City, Frasier, Touched by an Angel, NYPD Blue, Northern Exposure, Designing Women, The Simpsons

The 1990s would prove to be the decade when vampires, although still in the minority when it came to being featured on television, would begin to move from made-for-TV movies and mini-series into actual television shows.

However, it wouldn’t be until the twilight of that decade and the dawn of a new century, that television viewers would get their first look at a blonde vampire slayer and another brooding, longing-to-be mortal vampire.

Forever Knight (1992-1996) – Forever Knight was a television series about Nick Knight, a vampire working as a detective in modern day Toronto. Based on the made-for-television-movie Nick Knight, which starred Rick Springfield, the 1989 movie did not garner enough ratings for a spin-off television series. However, in 1992, CBS tried again by revamping (no pun intended) the movie into a two-hour series pilot.

Geraint Wyn Davies replaced Rick Springfield and the pilot launched the series that same year. In the series, Knight seeks to regain his humanity with the help of the police department’s pathologist, Natalie Lambert, played by Catherine Disher. The master vampire Lucien LaCroix, however, wants nothing more than for Nick to remain a vampire.

CBS cancelled the show but TriStar revived it in syndication and the show resumed in 1993. However, the show only lasted three seasons. The show has a devoted fan base and was voted number 23 in TV Guide’s Top 25 Cult TV Shows of All Time.

Kindred show logoKindred: The Embraced (1996) – Kindred: The Embraced was a 1996 Fox television series/vampire soap opera. It was loosely based on the role-playing game Vampire: The Masquerade.

The plot revolves around San Francisco police detective Frank Kohanek, played by C. Thomas Howell. He becomes involved in the Masquerade while investigating an alleged mobster, Julian Luna, played by Mark Frankel. Luna is actually the Ventrue Prince of the Kindred who live in the city.

The series draws upon some of the vampire clans featured in the role-playing game with a few alterations. The clans featured in the series include the Ventrue, who are the vampire aristocrats; the Grangrel, who are portrayed as rebels, sneer at conventional society and are also descendants of Gypsies; the Brujah, who are the least civilized of the clans and, in the series, were The Sopranos of the vampire world; the Nosferatu, intriguingly mysterious creatures who are the most vampire-like in appearance, but who also possess magical and mystical abilities, and, finally, the Toreador, who are flamboyant, passionate, and gorgeous.

Showtime was in the process of renewing the show for a second season. However, Frankel, who played the vampire Julian, died at the age of 34 in a motorcycle accident not long after the final episode aired. With his death, plans to continue the series were put aside.

The entire eight-episode series is available on DVD, and the Sci-Fi Channel, which has the broadcast rights, occasionally shows the entire season on one of its weekday series marathons.

Buffy logoBuffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003) – Buffy the Vampire Slayer aired on March 10, 1997 and remained on the air until May 20, 2003. The series was created by writer-director Joss Whedon, and was based on his 1992 film, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which starred Kristy Swanson as Buffy, Rutger Hauer as her nemesis, the vampire Lothos, Donald Sutherland as Merrick, Buffy’s mentor, and Paul Rubens (of Pee-Wee Herman fame) as Amilyn, another vampire. Luke Perry also starred in the movie and, if you don’t blink, you’ll also see Ben Affleck, Hilary Swank and David Arquette.

Whedon felt that the movie had not done near enough justice to what he had hoped to accomplish regarding his idea of a Southern California girl who winds up slaying things that go bump in the night. With the television show Whedon had more freedom to explore the concept and the rest, as they say, is history.

The series followed the adventures of Buffy Summers, played by Sarah Michelle Gellar, who is the latest in a long line of young women known as Slayers. Slayers battle vampires, demons, and other forces of darkness. Giles, her Watcher, played by Anthony Stewart Head, guided and trained her. Buffy was accompanied on her missions to rid the world of evil by her friends, who were known as the “Scooby Gang”.

To adequately discuss the phenomenon known as the Buffyverse goes far beyond the scope of this blog post. Needless to say, Buffy proved to be a success for the WB Television Network. Buffy’s ratings always fluctuated between 4 and 6 million viewers which, on the larger networks, would have led, unfortunately, to instant cancellation.

However, for the fledging WB network Buffy was a huge success. Reviews for the show were generally positive, and it ranked # 41 on the list of TV Guide’s 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time. It was also voted #3 on TV Guide’s Top 25 Cult TV Shows of all Time.

Angel (1999-2003) – A spin-off from Buffy, Angel deals with the trials and tribulations of the vampire Angel, also known as Angelus, and Buffy’s former squeeze. For over a century, Angelus the vampire tortured and murdered human beings without conscience or remorse.

However, Angel’s human soul is restored to him by Gypsies as a punishment for the murder of one of their own. As a result, he is tormented with guilt for all the pain and suffering he caused. He seeks to make amends by working as a private detective in Los Angeles where he and his associates, which includes the character Cordelia from Buffy, struggle to “help the helpless.”

Again, to adequately discuss Angel would require another blog post unto itself and would, of course, have to include an analysis of the impact of the vampire character Spike on the portrayal of vampires in television.

But, I think it’s fair to say that both Buffy and Angel were responsible, in no small degree, to what happened in the early years of the 21st century when it came to vampires on television.

Ultraviolet (1998) A British television show which featured a modern retelling of the vampire myth. As a result of humanity’s apparently reckless and headlong march towards making itself extinct, the vampires, fearing the loss of their food supply, conspire to find a means to control humans.

Ultraviolet, as a result, revolved around Jack Davenport, a former police detective-sergeant, played by Michael Colefield, who is recruited into CIB, a government-funded paramilitary police unit fighting a secret war against the worldwide vampire conspiracy. He’s joined by a squad of covert government investigators led by an ex-soldier, a former priest and a scientist.

In Ultraviolet the word “vampire” was never used. The term Code V was used in reference to vampires, as was the slang term “leech.” Ultraviolet also offered more scientific explanations for both vampires and the means used to detect and fight them.

The 21st Century

The early years of the new century saw a handful of shows about vampires debut on TV. Unfortunately, most of these shows proved short-lived.

However, the debut this year on HBO of a television series featuring a telepathic waitress and a red concoction called TruBlood, may reverse the current trend as it relates to vampires on television.

Supernatural (2005) – Supernatural premiered on the WB Network in September, 2005. It’s now currently part of The CW’s lineup. The series details the adventures of two brothers; Dean Winchester, played by Jensen Ackles, and his younger brother, Sam, played by Jared Padalecki. The two travel across the country investigating and battling supernatural forces.

Although neither of the brothers is a vampire, or has teamed up with a vampire, the show does deal with all sorts of supernatural creatures, including vampires. The show is currently in its fourth season, has a devoted fan base and averages between 3 to 4 million viewers.

Blade: The Series (2006) – Blade: The Series was based on the Marvel Comics character and the film series, which starred Wesley Snipes as Blade. The series premiered on Spike TV in June, 2006. Kirk “Sticky Fingaz” Jones was cast in the title role.

In the series, the vampires of the House of Chthon are developing a serum that will cure vampires of their weaknesses. Blade must, of course, stop them and is joined by Krista Starr, played by Jill Wagner, a former soldier and a vampire-in-the-making.

The series premiere had 2.5 million viewers and was the most-watched original series premiere in Spike’s history. However, by September of that year the show had been cancelled.

Blood Ties (2007) – Blood Ties is a Canadian television series based on the Blood Books by Tanya Huff. The show premiered on the Lifetime network in March, 2007. The series centered on Vicki Nelson, played by Christina Cox, a former cop who becomes a private investigator as a result of slowly losing her eyesight.

She teams up with the 480-year-old vampire Henry Fitzroy, who is the illegitimate son of Henry VIII, to solve crimes of a decidedly supernatural nature. The show has yet to air any new episodes. (And if anyone knows if this show has officially been cancelled, please let us know.)

Moonlight (2007) Moonlight premiered on CBS in September, 2007. The series featured private investigator Mick St. John, played by Alex O’Loughlin. In the 1950s St. John was turned into a vampire by his bride on the couple’s wedding night.

In the present day, he deals with his growing attraction to a mortal woman, Beth Turner, played by Sophia Myles, his friendship with Josef Kostan, another vampire, played with deliciously, devilish aplomb by Jason Dohring, and his connections with the other vampires who reside in Los Angeles.
Moonlight attracted a devoted and fiercely loyal fan base. Fans even worked with the American Red Cross for a series of charity blood drives, and Alex O’Loughlin made a public announcement spot (which you can find on YouTube) imploring people to denote blood.

However, in spite of the show’s devoted fans, and the nearly 8 million viewers who tuned in to watch Moonlight on Friday nights, CBS cancelled it in 2008.

True Blood LogoTrueBlood (2008) – TrueBlood was created by Alan Ball, creator of HBO’s Six Feet Under. The series is based on the Sookie Stackhouse book series by Charlaine Harris. The show is broadcast on HBO and premiered on September 7, 2008.

TrueBlood revolves around Sookie Stackhouse, played by Anna Paquin (of X-Men fame). Sookie is a telepathic bar waitress who falls in love with a vampire, Bill Compton, played by the British actor Stephen Moyer. Sookie lives in Bon Temps, a fictional Louisiana town, where Bill has come to settle on the old family homestead.

Bill was making his way back to his wife and children after the end of the Civil War, but was turned into a vampire by a woman he thought was just a lonely widow. Because he had politely rebuffed her sexual advances, due to the fact he wanted to return to his wife unsullied, the vampire decided not to kill him when she drank his blood but to turn him into a vampire instead.

The series puts forth the idea that vampires are a victimized minority who struggle for basic civil rights, such as the right to marry, and who seek passage of a Vampire Rights Amendment, among other tings. With the invention of TruBlood, a synthetic substitute for real blood, some—but not all—vampires are now seeking, as Bill Compton tells Sookie, to “mainstream.”

Due to the fact that TrueBlood is on HBO, it is able to graphically depict what other vampire television shows could only hint at. Sex, nudity, profanity and blood. Buckets and buckets of blood.

The series has been renewed for a second season, has grown steadily in the ratings (over 6 millions viewers so far) and Anna Paquin has, apparently, signed on to do seven seasons of the series. That’s not to say there will be seven seasons of TrueBlood. Just that Paquin is willing to do them.

So, now, as we come to the end of this post, we’ve progressed through over four decades of television broadcasting as it relates to vampires. We started out with the comic campiness of Morticia Adams and Lily Munster and ended up with the moody pathos of Vampire Bill Compton.

So, why is it that vampires continue to find their way onto our television screens? Part of it, of course, is the inherent appeal of the vampire.

In her book, The Lure of the Vampire, Milly Williamson says that “….the Western vampire is an ambiguous figure; it is a rebel and aristocrat, bohemian and nobility, it looks to the past and the future.” Richard Dryer in his essay “Dracula and Desire” from Sight and Sound, January 8-15, 1993 also notes that “If the vampire is an Other, he or she was always a figure in whom one could find one’s self…the despicable as well as the defiant, the shameful as well as the unashamed, the loathing of oddness as well as pride in it.”

Finally, Williamson states that “…the vampire….is the expression of the outcast and this helps to explain its enormous popularity and the existence of a large vampire fan culture.”

There could be some truth to that. For who among us has not felt at some time in our lives outcast, different, and out of place with the others around us? And who is a better representative of that outsider state than a vampire?

So, although most vampires have had, despite their inherent immortality, relatively brief life spans on TV, they have also managed to make significant inroads into the landscape of popular culture, television programming and, consequently, into our very living rooms.

As to what the future holds for vampires on television, only time (and ratings) will tell.

So, the next time you think you smell a newly open grave or the coppery odor of fresh blood, don’t be surprised to find a vampire sitting next to you on your couch.

Okay, it’s your turn.

Who are your favorite television vamps?

If you were head of programming at a major television network, what kind of vampire series would you line up for next year’s season?

What book series about a vampire would you like to see on television?

Most of the vampires who have appeared on TV have either been private eyes, police detectives or teamed up with one. What other occupations would you like to see vampires have on television? Lawyer? Doctor? Restaurant critic?

Items of Possible Interest

  • The Top 70 Vampire Movies of All Time
  • The Modern Vampire: Bloodthirsty, But Chivalrous
  • Kane, Tim. The Changing Vampire of Film and Television: A Critical Study of the Growth of a Genre. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Co, 2006. (Unfortunately, I was unable to get my hands on a copy of this book in time for this blog post.)
  • Williamson, Milly. The Lure of the Vampire: Gender, Fiction and Fandom from Bram Stoker to Buffy. London & New York: Wallflower Press, 2005

From the moment she saw her first vampire movie, which featured none other than Christopher Lee as Count Dracula, Jenna Reynolds has always been fascinated with vampires, werewolves and things that go bump in the night. An avid reader of both non-fiction and fiction, she especially enjoys lurid tales of the fantastic.

Jenna writes short erotic fiction under the name Anna Black. Her publications include short stories in Zane’s Honey Flava, The Mammoth Book of the Kama Sutra, edited by Maxim Jakubowski, Hurts So Good, edited by Alison Tyler, and The MILF Anthology, edited by Cecilia Tan and Lori Perkins.

She also writes for Ellora’s Cave as Jenna Reynolds. Her futuristic short erotica titled “The Emissary” can be found in Ellora’s Cavemen, Jewels of the Nile, Vol I. and a novella titled Sweet Spot, a contemporary erotica, is due out from Ellora’s Cave in the near future.

She’s currently working on a vampire erotica, a shapeshifter romance and a gothic western, among other projects.

Please feel free to stop by her website www.jennareynolds.com or blog http://jenna-reynolds.blogspot.com/

Buy Jenna’s book:
The Emissary


  1. Brooke

    I love the vamps on True Blood! They aren’t the extravagant rich vamps, but normal people, and I like that.

    The book series I would like to see on TV is Kim Harrison’s The Hollows, I’d love to see those characters live!

  2. Pam P

    Great post. I loved the original Night Stalker, even my mother who’s not into paranormal liked it. Blood Ties I liked a lot, then Lifetime canceled it, disappointing fans, and I think it was the last episode or two not even being aired but put online at the site. Wish it would be revived again. Don’t get HBO, so haven’t been able to watch Trublood.

  3. Joely

    Ooooh, I loved that old Cliffhanger show! I wish I’d seen Dark Shadows. I’ve caught a few reruns but not the whole series. I would have loved that gothic feel. I must admit, though, to a reluctance to watch vampires on TV. I think deep down, I fear (know) they’ll get cancelled, sometimes very quickly, and I don’t want to get attached. I only saw an episode or two of Kindred and then it was gone. I haven’t seen any of the more recent vampire series.

  4. Joely

    Oh, and I feel like this is a sin, but I’ve seen only very few Buffy episodes. That Man (my husband) never cared for vampire shows either, and so although it lasted quite a while, I never really watched them.

  5. lynnrxgal

    Guess I am late to the party… Moonlight was an amazing show and is sorely missed by its many ardent fans. Alex gave new meaning to the word angst, and the romance and the friendships of the four main characters were the draw for its viewers. True Blood is great as well. Guess we are in a Vampire Renaissance at the moment… they never truly go out of style.

  6. Danielle

    I like Angel from his show “Angel” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”

    I have to agree with Brooke and say Kim Harrison’s “The Hollows Series” would be great books to be seen turned into a tv show…

    I have yet to see TrueBlood but I’m sure I’ll love it! :)

  7. Kimberly B.

    Hee hee, I had to laugh when you brought up “Count Duckula”—I loved that show! And “Forever Knight,” and “Buffy” and “Angel”—but those go without saying, don’t they?
    I’m another one who would love to see Kim Harrison’s “The Hollows” brought to the small screen (or the big screen, for that matter). Jeaniene Frost’s books about Cat and Bones would also be fun (I know just who would be perfect to play “Bones.”). As far as an occupation for our fictional televised vampire, I think a novelist would be interesting, or maybe a nightclub owner, who specialized in hiding the supernatural nature of his acts from his audience.

  8. Colleen

    Wow, thanks for the visit down memory lane… I enjoyed a bunch of those Vamp shows… too bad they seem to get cancelled quickly!

  9. flip

    Hands down, Buffy the Vampire Slayer was my favorite series. Spike until the last two seasons was my favorite vamp.

  10. StKeltic

    Moonlight is my favorite!
    I never been so touched by an show as Moonlight did. I love the characters, the interacting between the actors [so well chosen]
    Some people don’t like the fact that Mick is PI also, and they compare it to much with Angel. Angel was a nice show…. but Moonlight is a bit more ‘grown up’.
    I love it.
    And it is a shame CBS stopped it.

  11. ReadingIsSoMuchFun

    Great post. I remember alot of these shows you have mentioned. I don’t watch TV as much any more cause it seems the same stuff repeats ugh *g* I do love TrueBlood. I can not wait for the next season :-) I like Angel. My fiance and I watch the shows together :)

    I would love to see Kim Harrison’s as a tv show. I bet it would be really good.


  12. joan

    I can remember racing home from school to catch Dark Shadows!
    Moonlight is my favorite now. I’m waiting impatiently for the DVD to come out in January. So sorry it was cancelled.

  13. Jenna Reynolds

    Brooke – I have yet to read Kim Harrison’s books (I have a TBR pile that needs to be seen to be believed! :D ) but I do have her books.

    Pam P – Thanks, Pam! I still have fond memories of that Night Stalker episode! I believe TrueBlood’s 1st season will be coming out fairly soon on DVD as the second season is scheduled to air June, 2009

    Joely – I had never heard of Cliffhangers before writing this post but it sounds like an interesting concept. As for the threat of cancellation, that is what happened with Moonlight. I was really getting into that show and then it gets canceled. Unfortunately, that does seem to be the risk with any vampire shows on television.

    Lynnrxgal – I agree. I believe there will always be vampires on television.

    Danielle – Hmmm, I think I’d better start reading my Harrison books. :)

    Kimberly B – Henry Fitzroy in the books by Tanya Huff was a romance novelist but they changed it to a graphic novelist for the series.

    I like the idea of a nightclub owner. Kinda like that show Vegas but with vampires. :)

    Colleen – You’re welcome! I enjoyed the trip myself. Same here. I get into a good vamp show and then it gets canceled. Bummer! :(

    Flip – Of all the vampire shows Buffy certainly had the most staying power.

    StKeltic – My mother was even into Moonlight and she pretty much stays away from anything that smacks of the paranormal. So, she was not happy when it go canceled either.

  14. Meagan Hatfield

    Oh, I love The Kindred and watch it from time to time. And Buffy of course was a fav.

    Awesome post!!

  15. Lori

    Okay, let’s ALL yell at Jenna that she needs to read the Kim Harrison books. Seriously! What is she thinking??? :D
    My memories of Dark Shadows is my babysitter watching it when I was little like four. She would put us all out of the room for that and “As the World Turns.”
    What was that other show that was on at night…Night something. Every week it was a different creepy creature. I remember the person who shifted into a cat. She ( I think it was a she) would wake up in the middle of the night and rip paper-wrapped meat open with her fingernails and eat it. Then I guess later she would shift.
    That show gave me nightmares, but surely there was a vampire or two in it…
    Paranormal has been around forever…Yay, paranormal. :)

  16. Lauren

    I forgot how many vamp shows there really were! Way more than I remembered! Thanks for an enlightening post!!!!

  17. Lori T

    Reading this…I was amazed at the number of vamp shows out there. Although, I don’t really know why I am amazed as I watched most of them.

    I would have to say that my favorite vamp series was Buffy and recently my 13 year old son has been watching the DVD season much to the annoyance of his 14 year old brother.

    I liked Spike and Angel from Buffy and Mick and Josef from Moonlight.

    Thanks so much for this post…it was so much fun to read and remember these shows.

  18. Jenna Reynods

    LindaH – Thanks! I’m a fan of Angel too. :)

    Joan – I wonder if Dark Shadows is on DVD. Moonlight is set for release on DVD January 20th!! Marking my calendar! :)

    Donna – Thanks, Donna! Looks like some of the Dark Shadow episodes are on DVD. Am I imagining things or did Sci-Fi Channel once show some episodes?

    Meagan – Thanks, Meagan! This past summer I watched the whole 8 episode season of Kindred on Sci-Fi on one of Sci-Fi’s weekday marathons. When I found out the guy who played Julian Luna had died I was floored. And, tragically enough, his brother also died in some kind of accident. I really liked the character of Julian.

    Lori – I know, I know. I’m a bad vampire fan for not having yet read Harrison’s books. But please have pity. So many books, so little time. :) But, I must backtrack. I did read the first book in the series. But I’ll probably have to re-read it as was some time ago.

    That show you’re describing sounds so familiar. Wait, was it Night Gallery? It was on in the 70s. Rod Serling’s Night Gallery. Yeah, I’m sure they must have had some vamps on that show too. Slipped under my research radar. :)

    Lauren – Thanks, Lauren. Doing this post made me wish I had loads of money to buy all these TV shows. :)

  19. MichaelC2B

    The best vampire ever, no doubt about it, is Mick St. John, marvelously portrayed by Alex O’Loughlin on Moonlight. I have been a vampire lover all my life, but now I have seen the best and no other will do. I have all of Alex’s other work on DVD now – if you haven’t already, you HAVE to check out his movies, especially the ones he did in Australia, where he was the lead. Alex is an extraordinary talent, and no other actor can play a vampire like he can. He has always loved the genre himself, so he said he just knew how to play Mick – and did he ever! There is just no other to compare, and if you want a treat and have not seen Moonlight before, preorder the DVD on Amazon, set to ship on 1/20/08. They have all of his other movies there too. I am looking forward to anything that Alex does, and I know I will love his new show – but I can enjoy his new work and still ask everyone involved for “more Moonlight, please!”

  20. Moira

    Oh I loved Mick St. John and Moonlight. Angel was another fav.

    I am full agreement that Jeaniene Frost’s series would probably make an excellent series! (I am so in love with Bones.)

    The vampire doctor angle would be interesting I think. Political office maybe? Bounty hunter?

  21. Jenna Reynolds

    Lori T – You’re very welcome! I’m so glad you mentioned Josef from Moonlight. He was so cool. :)

    MichaelC2B – I agree about Alex O’Loughlin. I can’t describe exactly what it was I liked about his portrayal of Mick St. John, but there was definitely something there and it’s a shame we didn’t get a chance to see more of him as Mick beyond the first season. Curse you, CBS! :)

    Moira – A vampire doctor would be interesting. At least he’d have ready access to an available supply of blood! As for political office, I thought all politicians were bloodsuckers?

    Sorry, sorry, just kidding. :)

  22. Sara Hurt

    Hi all wonderful post. Sad to say this but i dont watch vampires on tv. I love to read about them but just not into the watching part. I know I am weird. lol :)

  23. Carmen R

    Wow this post brought back some memories. I would like to see The Anita Blake series on tv. I also agree with the thought of Kim Harrison’s The Hollows series should be on tv or even better into a movie that way they could spend more money on effects.

  24. Debby

    Wow, what a neat article. I have watched many of those shows. I found the stats interesting. We have 4 TVs in our house.

  25. Margie

    Hi Jenna! Wonderful post! I remember Dark Shadows and Forever Knight. I liked Buffy and Moonlight. So sorry they cancelled that show. Thanks for posting! I enjoyed reading about all these different vampire shows.

  26. Kathryn Albright

    Hi Jenna! Great post! Guess I’ve been out of the vampire loop! But I am thrilled to see so many old shows coming out in DVD sets now. I’ll definitely have to check some of these out! I remember all my friends in school rushing home to watch Dark Shadows on TV at 4:00 every week day. It was quite the thing to do. Then we’d talk about the episodes in school the next day. Thanks for a great, informative post!

  27. Jackie Ballway

    Wow, I was obsessed with Kindred when it was on and I had no idea that’s why it was canceled. Great information!

  28. am

    My fave vamp show was cancelled, Moonlight. I loved that show, I do hope they put it on dvd.

  29. Amy S.

    whoops, post before didn’t have full name on it. should be amy s. instead of am.

  30. Christy

    Moonlight is my favorite vampire show and Supernatural is another fave show of mine. I love watching True Blood also.

    I’ve always liked vamps and am glad to see a resurrgence on TV/in movies.

    Mick St. John is a wonderful, sexy vampire who you could really bring home to mom. LOL

    Josef was the vampire you wouldn’t, but he’d be fun to be with. Hehe.

  31. Debbie

    Wow, great post! I enjoyed reading about all those old vampire shows. Too bad so many of them got cancelled.

  32. Caffey

    This post absolutely rocked!!! Gosh, I so loved THE ADAMS FAMILY! And of course too Herman in THE MUNSTERS! I loved these 70’s shows because I had watched most even without no captioning for the deaf because I could still understand quite a bit from just seeing them. In the 80’s and 90’s I didn’t watch much TV at all with my children and since really haven’t so I missed Buffy and Angel and all those, but I did watch MOONLIGHT last year and so wished they bring it back! I’m waiting for TV Land channel to bring back THE ADAMS FAMILY captioned or hope to get on the DVD but need the captioning!

    I would really love to see a humorous vampire series! I think with a take on the romance and vampires that I too enjoy in reading (as well as I love those that are alpha and tortured heroes, etc) but I think this would be different and hope they give it a chance on TV!

    I love alot of vampire romance series I read! I was thinking of Kerrilyn Sparks series would be something towards the humorous vamp!

    Again an awesome post and so looking forward to your books at EC!

  33. Stacey H.

    I love vampires :D

  34. blackroze37

    my kids got me hooked on buffy then angel

  35. Karin

    I loved how thorough this post was. I have to admit, though, that I don’t watch a lot of TV and haven’t really watched a full episode of any of the mentioned vampire shows. The only exception to this is Sesame Street when I was a kid. Therefore, I’m going to have to say that Count Van Count is my favorite TV vampire, though that might have more to do with my own obsession with numbers, which I discovered at an early age, than the fact that he is a vampire.

  36. Jenna Reynolds

    Sara Hurt – No, you’re not weird at all. The problem is that once I get into a good vampire show on TV it gets canceled!

    Carmen – I would not be surprised that with the success of Twilight in terms of its box office and how well TrueBLood is doing on HBO that some of these vampire authors have not already been approached for movie deals and/or TV deals.

    Debby – Thanks, Debby! I actually thought the figure they cited for the number of televisions in a household was kinda low. And would one’s computer count since we can now watch TV shows on our computers?

    Margie – You’re welcome, Margie. The vampire does seem to continue to make his stealthy way onto our TV screens, doesn’t he? :)

    Kathryn – Thanks, Kathryn. It is great that we can watch these show on DVD even though they are no longer on TV. I would think there’s enough vampires TV shows to start it’s own network and just show reruns of the old shows and brand new shows. Then maybe we could get Moonlight back!

    Jackie – I was surprised to learn of Frankel’s death. I thought he was great as Julian. And the show had potential but it wouldn’t have been the same without Frankel.

    Amy S – I liked it a lot too. Oh, and Moonlight is coming out on DVD January 20th.

    Christy – That’s a great way to describe Mick. Because, heck, even my Mom liked him and she usually stays away from shows about paranormal creatures. Yes, Josef, not a take-home-to-Mom kinda vamp but definitely would be fun to hang out with.

    Debbie – Thanks Debbie. I agree about the cancellations. It is too bad. I don’t think the networks give shows a chance to build an audience anymore. If they don’t hit one out of the park that first season, they cancel it.

    Caffey – Thanks, Caffey! You know, I was thinking the same thing. A funny vampire TV show would be interesting. Maybe one about a vampire who faints at the sight of blood or is claustrophobic (he can’t stand sleeping in a coffin or the ground). :)

    Stacey H – Vampires rule!

    Blackroze23 – Both of those are great shows. Wish we could have more like them.

    Karin – I have a soft spot in my heart for Count Van Count. No way you can keep him from counting anything once he gets started. :)

  37. Kathy S.

    Wow, what a great post! Talk about going back in time! I was a huge fan of the Munsters and the Addams Family, and I’ll admit I was completely in love with Barnabas Collins as a kid (okay, showing my age here) I really enjoy the modern vampires in fiction today. I like the fact that they are a minority yearning and fighting for rights and lives in modern society.

  38. Jenna Reynolds

    Kathy S – Thanks, Kathy S! Some TV station was showing some old Munsters episodes not too long ago and I’d forgotten how crazy that show was. I’d love to see The Adams Family again too. I want to be Morticia! :) And I agree on the modern take on vampires. It’s quite fascinating.

  39. Pan Zareta

    Great post! Thanks for commenting on all these vampire shows. I remember watching many of these. It brings back a lot of good memories.

  40. Liviania

    Incredible post! I would love to see either Kim Harrison or Rob Thurman’s series (both involve creatures other than vampires) on television.

    I’d also love to see a vampire in the travel business. They’ve had time to see the world and should now how to sell it. Or maybe they could work in museums – they’d give great guided tours. This make’s me want to see Jeri Smith-Ready’s series on television as well. Her vamps are DJs so there’s a built in soundtrack!

  41. Jenna Reynolds

    Pan Zareta – You’re welcome! It was a treat for me also to revisit those shows.

    Liviania – Thanks Liviania! It looks like Kim Harrison is the favorite when it comes to a vampire book series being considered for television.

    Travel business would be an interesting career. And definitely a museum for all the history a vampire has lived through.

    One of my fave parts in Trueblood is when Vampire Bill Compton is speaking to a historical group about his experiences in the Civil War. I happen to love history!

  42. Deidre

    What an amazing and well-researched article! I’ve always loved Dark Shadows, both the old and new versions.
    If I were head of a major network, I would plan on airing a vampire series targeted to young adults, because they’re just as popular with adults today.
    I would love to see Christine Feehan’s Carpathians in a television series.


  43. bobbi

    Hey, Jenna!

    What a fun post! Thanks for sharing all of that. It’s a shame they put Moonlight on on Fridays – I think it would have a bigger audience if the younger crowd had caught on. But they aren’t generally watching then…

    And thanks, Lori, for hosting this cool series idea. Vampires really have captured this era’s imagination.

  44. Jenna Reynolds

    Deidre – Thanks Deidre! I’m surprised there hasn’t been a YA television series about vampires aired. But who knows? With the success of the movie Twilight might even now be in the works.

    Bobbi – Thanks, Bobbi. Friday was probably not the best time for Moonlight. It came in, however, after Ghost Whisperer but I guess what happened was that the ratings went down the hour Moonlight came on.

  45. Inanna Arthen

    Terrific article, Jenna! What a lot of research–I have to bookmark this one!

    Just a tiny correction, and comments:

    Barnabas Collins, on Dark Shadows, was turned into a vampire in the 18th century, not the 16th–in 1797 in the original series. Yes, all of the original series is out on DVD. Moonlight is also coming out on DVD.

    1970s vampires included a couple of episodes of the anthology show, Night Gallery. “Death on a Barge” (1973), starred Leslie Ann Warren as a vampire who couldn’t cross running water, and they did a dramatization of Manly Wade Wellman’s short story, “The Devil is Not Mocked” (1971), in which Dracula foils some Nazis during WWII.

    I’m fairly sure that some of the other anthology horror series did vampire episodes but the only one I can recall off the top of my head is Tales from the Crypt’s spoof, “The Reluctant Vampire” (1991), starring Malcolm McDowell as a vampire who works as a night watchman in a blood bank and does too much “embezzling.”

    The Dracula segments of Cliff Hangers were edited together, horribly, into a dreadful film and packaged as The Loves of Dracula.

    You forgot to mention one of my most shame-faced guilty pleasures, at least until Buffy the Vampire Slayer came along: Dracula: The Series (1990-91) with Geordie Johnson as one of my favorite evil vampires since David Peel played Baron Meinster in The Brides of Dracula. (Gods, I can’t believe I just admitted that in public…! :???:)

    My favorite vampire TV series (or miniseries): Ultraviolet (2000) with Jack Davenport. I’ll never stop sulking that they only did 6 episodes. I have it on DVD and VHS.

    If I were head of programming at a major television network…I’d probably shoot myself.

    Vampire books I’d most like to see done as a series: Well, mine! :cool: Okay, besides those, P.N. Elrod’s Vampire Files would be a trip.

    Unusual vampire occupations (that lend themselves to varied story ideas): in Chelsea Quinn Yarbro’s “Cabin 33,” Saint-Germain is running a sort of dude ranch in the mountains. That might fun. In the novel Fevre Dream, the vampires enlist the help of a riverboat captain. If you didn’t observe the “can’t cross running water” convention, vampires running some kind of ship might have entertaining possibilities–anything from a coffee boat to a cruise ship. I am a bit tired of vampires as detectives, police officers or club owners, but those fields tend to provide ample plot opportunities, which is why they’re popular on TV. My forthcoming book, The Longer the Fall, has a vampire lawyer, though! I was amusing myself with a Law & Order cross-over fic with him (until my co-writer passed away :sad:).

  46. Jenna Reynolds

    Thanks for the correction and the additions, Inanna!

    I was pretty sure I hadn’t covered all instances of vampires on TV and am glad you were able to find more. I knew there some anthology TV series that featured vampires. Just couldn’t recall them all. :)

    Thanks again!