When is a vampire on TV not a vampire? When he’s a vampire in a dream sequence. Or when a character is convinced through paranoid delusion based on coincidence that another character is a vampire. Or when a person suffering from a rare blood disease unnecessarily acts in a vampy ways. And the list goes on. And on. Vampires were really hot stuff in popular culture around the turn of the 21st century. They may one day come back full strength. If that doesn’t happen, then at least you have these wonderful moments in television history when not all vampires actually had to be vampire characters in order to draw the viewership of young audiences.
Who better to cast as a creepy immigrant trying to become one among many who carve out a new life for themselves in the frontier of America than Vincent Price. Price at the time was the reigning King of Horror and so he was perfectly cast as Count Sforza, a macabre gentleman from the old country who sports a slicked-back widow’s peak, wears a cape, says “Good evening”, talks longingly about women’s necks and lives in a creepy old house. The whole point of this episode of “F. Troop” revolves around the question of whether he is or isn’t. A vampire, that is. Casting any old character actor would have relieved the episode of much of its suspense. But when you cast Vincent Price, you have to wonder whether the guy is a vampire or not just on the basis of the actor’s resume. Turns out he’s just weird.
A tenuous connection exists between the symptoms of a rare genetic disorder known as porphyria and the legends of vampirism. This forms the basis for a subplot in the episode titled “Loss of Power” that aired during the fourth season of “St. Elsewhere.” In this episode a character comes to the doctors at St. Eligius convinced he’s a vampire. In fact, he suffers from porphyria.
Like “St. Elsewhere” as well as “Castle” the show about the faux psychic enters the game of TV vampires who aren’t really vampires by building up suspense about a guy who certainly is acting like a vampire. What sets the “Psych” version apart is the way it subtly makes a political message out of vampires who really aren’t bloodsucking demons. You’ve got a mysterious murder suspect who cloaks himself in the iconography of vampires, but is really just a victim of the real vampires of modern day America: Big Business. His insurance company dropped him and his rare blood type makes trying to get the best health care system in the world (according only to someone who has never sought health care in any other country in the world) to assist in his effort to get the blood transfusions he needs to stay alive more difficult than getting blood the old-fashioned vampire way.
Sid is a fairly paranoid friend of Arnold. Stinky Peterson is a hick transplant to the big city from the south. Here we have an example of how really unfortunate coincidences can connect inside a paranoid mind to lead faultlessly to the conclusion that someone you see every day is a vampire. Actually, the end of “Sid, the Vampire Slayer” leaves the question of whether Sid was onto something or not rather ambiguous. If you go by the end of the episode, Stinky really may be a vampire. But since he never exhibits any vampiric tendencies again throughout the rest of the show’s run, it’s probably safe to assume that this is a case where a TV vampire is not really a vampire.
The IT Crowd
Down there in the bowels of the IT department new girl Jen discovers a mysterious red door that she is told not to bother with. Curiosity naturally kicks in, of course, and when she opens the door she is greeted by a tall British guy with even chalkier skin than most British guys. Every indication is that she has stumbled upon the secret lair of a vampire. Turns out he’s just a former top employee who fell all the way down the corporate ladder after he went Goth.
Dream sequence pure and simple. Gilligan gets bit by a vampire bat and is convinced he is going to turn into a vampire. He does, but only in one of the most memorable dream sequences in the history of “Gilligan’s Island.” Gilligan makes a really cool vampire except for the fact that he forgets the castle doesn’t have an alcove. He even gets the opportunity to float in mid-air briefly as he fights off dream versions of Skipper and the Professor in the comic book style of the Batman show that was so hot at the time.