Don Schanke

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Name: Donald G. Schanke, "Schank"
Occupation: police officer
Title/Rank: Detective
Location: Toronto
Status: human
Relationships: Myra Schanke (wife)
Jenny Schanke (daughter)
Nick Knight (partner)
Fandom: Forever Knight
Other:
Det. Don Schanke (from "Amateur Night")
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Contents

Det. Don Schanke is a fictional character that appeared in the first two seasons of the television series, Forever Knight. The part was played by John Kapelos, reprising his role in the original 1989 pilot for the series (the only actor to appear in both the TV movie and the Forever Knight series). Schanke is a detective in the Metropolitan Police in Toronto, currently assigned to Homicide. He is partnered with Nick Knight; but, although he considers them friends (and is always popping over to Nick's loft), Schanke is unaware that his partner is actually an eight hundred year old vampire.

Character Evolution

In the series premiere, "Dark Knight", Nick (who perforce works nights) is reluctantly ordered to work with Schanke (who is on day shift) by their commanding officer, Capt. Stonetree, who feels that a sensitive multiple homicide case would benefit from twenty-four hour attention. The initially prickly relationship between the two detectives is quickly replaced by an effective partnership. The first few episodes played off their working different shifts; but this was soon dropped.

Schanke had a plodding investigative style: Nick generally caught the killer first. He had an eclectic taste in music: Nick played classical piano. Somewhat overweight, Schanke made frequent references to favourite food, particularly souvlaki; and the episode "Hunters" revealed that a former partner had nicknamed him "Donut Don": he was partnered with a man who was slim and athletic, and never seen to eat at all. Like Nick, Schanke had an eye for the ladies; but he was very much married, talked a lot about his family, and often phoned his wife at work. Schanke was, in other words, designed as a comic foil. Gradually, however, a sufficiency of rather different scenes allowed fans to build up a picture of him as a veteran detective, very capable in his own way, but overshadowed by a flamboyant high-flying partner whom he rather envied.

Character History

It was established early in the series that Schanke has been married for about ten years, and is a Polish-Italian Catholic who does not attend church quite as often as he believes he ought. In occasional episodes, usually when chatting with Nick in the car, he reveals something of his philosophy of policework and sketches a few incidents from his past. The episode "Hunters" opens with the murder of an ex-partner. On the whole, though, Schanke's background remained little explored. Neither his wife nor his daughter appeared on screen.[1]

Fan Response

Many fans enjoyed the light banter between Nick and Schanke during their investigations. Their partnership was seen to work not least because each man had his own talents—Nick's were merely more obvious. Schanke grounded the show in humanity. Notably, though, in a fandom prone to label relationships, there was never a faction for Schanke and Nick—an indication that, although some of the couple factions were nominally open to a non-sexual interpretation, they were fundamentally couple factions. Hence, there was no "Nick & Schanke" faction focusing on their partnership as detectives: fans were not attracted to the idea of interpreting their relationship as sexual. Having said that, the omission of a faction for Nick and Schanke was occasionally noted and possible names suggested.

Although canonically Schanke had an eye for the ladies and talked infidelity, there was never any indication that this was more than "guy talk". He was always interpreted as, at heart, a devoted family man. Fans who had a serious interest in exploring his personal life did so, therefore, through scenes of him with his wife Myra and/or their daughter, Jenny. In such fanfic, the focus was on the family interaction, not the sexual intimacy of a middle-aged married couple; and there was no Schanke/Myra faction.

In so far as Schanke was ever shown in pairings other than with his wife, it was in crackfic LaCroix/Schanke stories (which originated in a challenge). Most were short, humorous slash fiction playing off the extreme improbability of the pairing.

Websites

Schanke-focused Factions

There are a handful of groups within Forever Knight fandom who focus their interest on Schanke more than other characters. These factions interact on mailing lists and groups, write fan fiction about Schanke, and play as teams in Forever Knight Wars.

As soon as such factions began to be discussed, followers of Schanke suggested various names for their own, eventually setting on FoDs (for Friends of Don). They played in the first War, and continued to participate regularly up to and including War 11. However, they were always one of the smaller factions.

The obvious couple faction for Schanke would be the canonical Schanke/Myra pairing; but, as an old married couple, their life together did not inspire much in the way of romantic fan fiction.

Undoubtedly, despite Schanke's claims of interest in other women, his obvious devotion to Myra inhibited the development of any other serious pairings. However, as one of the unlikeliest characters to be written into serious romantic fiction, Schanke was ripe for inclusion in crackfic of the "unlikeliest pairing" sort. Early in 1997, an Unsuited Challenge was posted to the FORKNI-L mailing list, suggesting the pairing of Schanke and LaCroix. This ultimately produced at least 16 short stories, more or less "adult" and generally hilarious. The UnSuiteds are the faction for the LaCroix/Schanke pairing; and a story of this type is referred to as an "UnSuited story". (Capitalization of the S in the middle varies a lot.)

Departure

Schanke was written out of the series after Season Two. Forever Knight was bought by the USA Network, who wanted to make changes that they considered would attract more viewers. Among other things, they insisted that Nick be assigned a new partner. As they also wanted the police station to have a new commanding officer, they were interested in retaining the Schanke character by "promoting" him to captain. However, the actor was unwilling to take the demotion from a co-starring to a supporting role.

Schanke was therefore written out. In the Season Three premiere (in which the actor did not appear), the character was taking an extradited prisoner to Calgary, in the Province of Alberta, when the plane they were on was blown up by a bomb. Nick was then assigned a new partner, Tracy Vetter.

Fans were sorry to see Schanke go; and the acrimony surrounding the Season Three changes coloured their opinion of the new characters, whose introduction was resented.

References

  1. In the Season One episode "Dead Issue", there is a brief scene at the end in which Schanke is seen talking to a child at a picnic. This is often taken to be Jenny, though no name was ever mentioned. As well, in the Season Three premiere, "Black Buddha", when Nick goes to break the news to Myra that her husband has been killed, he is seen on the porch speaking to a woman, but at too great a distance for her features to be made out.
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