Sunday, September 20, 2009

5. Genre Shows of Old, Genre Shows of Gold

Cyberbeast did a post on his blog talking about genre shows from the past he remembered ( for those of you collecting links; trade with your friends!), so I felt inspired to do the same. Hey, I only steal from the best! Here are some TV shows from the past which may not have lasted very long, but I enjoyed anyway:

1) Under Cover (ABC, 1991, 10 episodes)
Long before 'Alias' and prior to 'True Lies,' there was this spy program. Anthony Denison and hottie Linda Purl were a couple of former US spies who left the program, got married, and had some kids. Years later they're pulled back into working for the firm and try to balance the two worlds together. It was a pretty cool show. It was played seriously, and had a really good drama/to/action ratio to it. John Rhyes-Davies was in it as old friend (and resident spy mystery man) N.F.M. Flynn: on his file "N.F.M." stood for "No First Name." While it didn't last long it was mostly known for the art-imitating-life storyline where the spies went into Kuwait during an Iraq invasion -- and just to show God has a sense of humor, the night that episode aired the real-life Iraq war started in that country! ABC took the show off the air as a result, and when it returned it couldn't gain its audience back. Sad.

2) The 100 Lives of Black Jack Savage (1991, NBC, 8 episodes)
This was a fun show from the mind of Disney. The premise was simple: 17th century pirate Black Jack Savage was damned by his actions in life, and was sentenced to haunt his island home. Once he saved 100 lives he could go into Heaven. As fate would have it, a crooked Wall Street financier escaped US justice and fled to that island, taking up residence in Jack's home. It turns out the Wall Street goon will also be damned to hell unless he also saves lives. He does a deal to work with Jack and split their bounty of souls 50/50. It was a fun little adventure romp. It never really caught on in the ratings. And it didn't help that the actor who played Jack in the pilot didn't continue, and was replaced with a less-effective one in the main series.

3) War of the Worlds (syndicated, 1988-1990, 44 episodes)
This was part of Paramount's push into the syndicated TV show field. It started out with a simple premise: Paramount's original WOTW movie really happened, and decades later members of the alien invasion are resurrected and start their campaign to take over the Earth again. A small twist was that the aliens discovered they were able to take over human bodies. A covert government taskforce (of four people -- these all-important groups are ALWAYS less than 10, ever realize that?) takes up trying to defeat them. The first season was standard fare. However Paramount shook things up in the second season by switching the series around 180-degrees. Instead of a 'modern day' version suddenly the Earth became this "Blade Runner"-esque society. Even the aliens themselves were changed; with others from the race coming in with their own plans for invasion. An interesting idea, but you could easily believe these were two different shows. Or in another example, similiar shows done differently (like with Desperation and The Regulators).

4) Probe (ABC, 1988, 8 episodes)
Isaac Asimov created this show: a sort of modern day Sherlock Holmes-twist. Parker Stevenson was a scientific genius who solved crimes as a hobby (back in the '80s, everyone solved crimes as a hobby), and Ashley Crow (who later went on to greater exposure as Hayden Panetierre's foster mom in 'Heroes') was his secretary. It was a quirky little program that was a lot of fun, where Stevenson used science to solve the crimes.

5) Once A Hero (ABC, 1987, 3 episodes)
ABC decided to get in on the superhero craze with this weekly series. The premise had a comic book creator dealing with his comic's declining sales. Cancellation looked like it was on the horizon. The thing is: the comic book world he created was a real dimension, and if the comic was cancelled all of the characters in it would die. So the comic's lead character, Captain Justice, went into the 'real world,' hoping to inspire his creator to keep writing. In the end he decided he could do more good in our world. A nice little idea, with the twist that in our world Captain Justice had no superpowers. The ratings were in the tank for this right from the start, so only 3 episodes of the seven produced ever saw telecast; which is a shame because one of the unseen ones would've had Adam West as an actor who'd played C.Justice in a '60s version of the comic. Inspiring!

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