In 1996, Fox Television commissioned 8 episodes of the Aaron Spelling's series, 'Kindred: The Embraced' for a trial run. 'Kindred: The Embraced' could be seen between April and May in 1996 on Wednesday nights at 9:00pm. It was noted only 7 of the 8 episodes ordered originally went on air. 'Kindred: The Embraced' consistently attracted 7 million plus viewers each week and 9 share ratings. At the time it was not uncommon to see rival programs 'Grace Under Fire' attracting 18 million viewers and 20 share ratings each week or 'Dateline NBC' attracting 15 million viewers and 19 share ratings.
Set in modern-day San Francisco, 'Kindred: The Embraced' sought to explore the internal power struggles of 5 Mafia-like vampire clans that made up the "Kindred" society. John Crook of 'TV Data Features Syndicate' elaborated, "In a Mafia-like interaction, these clans operate in every walk of life, careful to protect a strict code of secrecy called 'the masquerade' which ensures they will not be discovered and hunted down by humans." C. Thomas Howell who played Ponyboy in the 1983 Francis Ford Coppola's movie, 'The Outsider' played a human detective.
The vampire clans comprised the Toreadors (described as "artists, not bullfighters"), The Ventrue (described as "aristocrats" or blue-blooded), The Brujah ("rough guys"), The Nosferatu ("old-fashionedly ghoulish vampires") and The Gangrels ("blood-slackers"). Mark Frankel played Prince of the Clans, Julian Luna (as in the Luna moon). The word "Embraced" in the title referred to when a vampire had transformed (or "embraced") a human into a "Kindred".
Creator John Leekley told the press, "It's funny, when people think of vampires, they only think of the vampire mythology that was made up of Bram Stoker, who simply invented it. Almost none of it is actually the world tradition of vampires from the Middle Ages. We now think about sleeping in dirt and funny accents and fangs and all this stuff-garlic strings and crosses. I found that the real mythology of vampires was actually much deeper and very powerful. At the center of this mythology is that in Middle Ages they called them 'Kindred.' The reason they did that is because they are, in fact, our kin. They are us – the 'us' that we fear."
Mark Frankel described 'Kindred: The Embraced', "It's spooky, but very sexually charged. The great thing about the character is that he doesn't get out of a coffin at midnight. If he had, I probably wouldn't be doing this. But this is a fascinating role. Here is someone who has been locked into the prism of his life for 200 years. He had 6 lifetimes, he's spanned the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, gone through 2 world wars and broken relationships. Consequently, here's a man with an amazing understanding of human psychology.
"He's a man of great authority and he has a knowledge and depth a young person would never have because he has seen so much. That gives him so many different perspectives. In fact, I'm sure that if I had been living for 200 years I'd be having a much different conversation with you." On reflection, "In fact, Julian is a very compassionate man. He was a human in the middle of the 19th century, married (but) . . . lost his wife in labor and then his child died at a young age. I see it as quite a tragic role in some ways because he desperately wants to be a human and through Caitlin, whom he has a relationship with . . . he tries to lead a human life."
It was understood "in a repressive society, the religious establishment created these creatures as a sinister personification of what could happen if human desires were given free reign." John Leekley continued, "That was so feared that they had to invent creatures who had done that, and then crucify them. In the Spanish Inquisition, in the actual original records, there are translated documents . . . saying that they had caught, tortured and burned people because they had 'admitted' to being vampires. Then the Church and the State (could) go to people and say, 'See? We told you! We're protecting you now.' And also, 'Don’t be like this. You must follow the rules.'"
Kelly Rutherford played Irishwoman Caitlin Byrne. "As a journalist, she is the last person who would ever allow herself to believe such a thing as the existence of supernatural creatures such as vampires," John Leekley stated. "Also, she's very closed down sexually, which makes it even more delicious that she is in love with a vampire. It's sort of the most intimate coming out for a woman. When Kelly came into the room (to audition), I almost fell out of my chair. She was exactly the woman I was writing about. In fact, I find the chemistry between her and Julian astounding. I actually now (back in March 1996) am writing very much for Kelly, because she has such an uncanny feel for the character."
'Kindred: The Embraced' was said to have based on the 1995 book, 'Vampire: the Masquerade' by Mark Rein-Hagen. Mark Frankel remembered the audition, "I met with Fox and with Aaron Spelling. All actors are paranoid, but it's terrifying when you go to a network for these things. Especially with Fox. You go into a room with 35 people sitting there and staring at you. It's a real daunting experience. I kept thinking 'I could end my career right here and now.' But then Aaron said to me, 'Are you nervous? I don't want you to be. We're really excited about meeting you.'"