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geoffw (see below) is quite right about what happened to this show:
poor network marketing support (complicated by network interference
with the concept). The Christian Right had nothing to do with its
cancellation, and the individual who suggested that is out of touch
with the facts.
The fact is that this was another wonderfully original and well-developed concept from Shawn Cassidy (who also created 'American Gothic', among others) that was mis-marketed by FOX. Apparently FOX wanted to grab some of the riches generated by camp sword and sorcery shows like 'Hercules: The Legendary Journeys' and 'Xena: Warrior Princess'. They gave Roar very little marketing support (I remember vague promos showing people in leather armor that gave no idea what the show was about), and what little support they did give it implied it was a Hercules/Xena clone. It wasn't. When the wrong audience tuned in and rejected it, FOX started moving it all over the schedule, again without proper marketing support. They also applied pressure to the producers to dumb it down and make it more like Hercules/Xena. Watch a marathon on Sci-Fi sometime, and you will notice the following network-inspired trends:
1) The importance of Conor's struggle to unite the Irish clans diminishes. By the middle of the series, his efforts in this regard are only described in throwaway dialog and aren't seen on screen. These efforts should have provided the meat of the series. What table scraps we do get imply that the mission was effortless, which it certainly would not have been (clan rivalries historically prevented the Irish from uniting for the common good, which is how the English got a foothold centuries later). We frequently see Conor and Fergus travelling aimlessly about doing good deeds (instead of raising a resistance against the Romans) ala Hercules and Iolaus.
2) The importance of Conor's war band withers over the course of the series, until finally they don't even appear -- even though they are still credited as regular characters. By midway through the show's run, we usually see Conor and Fergus travelling alone, despite the fact that Conor is an important king who should be regarded as a deadly enemy by the Romans.
2) Vera Farmiga's costume becomes smaller and smaller, until the introduction of Melissa George as Molly, after which the character of Caitlin is rarely seen at all. Obviously a misguided attempt to "sex it up", and when the writers couldn't distort the Conor-Caitlin relationship enough to permit romance, they introduced a new love interest.
3) Originally intensely dramatic, with tragic loves, murky intrigues, murders and double-crosses, by mid-run it had become a campy adventure comedy.
4) The character of Longinus was a well-crafted and mysterious villain with tons of potential. Unfortunately, with the tone of the show shifting, he simply wasn't silly enough, so they unsuitably disposed of the character (it violated the integrity of the character to have him fall victim to such a plot) and made the ridiculously camp Diana the sole villain.
This could have been a great show, and it didn't hurt that the cast is actually quite competent. But I suspect that -- after the failure of 'American Gothic' -- Cassidy was willing to do anything to keep his new masters happy. Unfortunately it diminished his vision, and killed the show.
Ultimately, Roar became indistinguishable from the ilk of Hercules/Zena, but because the characters weren't designed to be camp it couldn't compete with that class of show. Had FOX left well enough alone and helped it to find the RIGHT audience, we would at the very least have a great short-lived series to collect on home video. Now, we don't even have that.
I accidently taped Roar one day and having nothing else to watch, decided to give it a go. It was one of the best TV shows I have EVER seen. It was funny and so well written, and the fact that Ledger is so good just added to it's perfection. And then - GONE!!! When I saw Ledger a few months later in "10 Things I hate about you" I knew then and there that (a) Ledger would not be doing his Conor thing again and (b) without Ledger as Conor, there was no Roar. So, again we were given the taste of near-perfect entertainment to only have it ripped away from us.
I first saw this show about a year ago. They aired the whole season over
here, because as it was set in Ireland, it saved our networks lots of time
and money,and made them look good.
It mixed a good amount of historical detail with myth, and plenty of swords and sorcery. It also was completely devoid of stereotypical irish stuff like leprechauns and dodgy accents (because half of the cast were from NewZealand). This made it appeal to everyone here as well. It was also full of kick ass battles and warrior babes, with some classy characters, and a great villain in the form of Sébastian roche (the peacemaker, merlin) as the Roman Centurion who tortured christ on the cross, and was cursed with immortality. It really was a good story, and should be brought back as soon as possible!
When the series ran during the summer of 1997, I watched every single episode. Each episode was full of history, excitement, good writing and most importantly, drama. These things are sorely missing from poorly done series like Hercules or Xena, whose only appeal is the size of Sorbo's muscles or Lawless' chest, respectively. Unfortunately, T.V. producers would rather make idiotic shows like "Worlds Most Dangerous/Funniest/Stupidest/home videos" or maybe just another ripoff of Melrose Place (Thank God that's gone!) Roar must be brought back !!
I saw this show when it first came on and I applauded the original line
they were taking. I loved the depiction of the struggle against the
encroachment of the Roman troupes.
By the end, with the serious dumbing down they committed I only lamented the end of the original promise. I'd love to find a DVD copy of what little there was. FOX blew this one seriously with the tacky shift in focus and the lack of support. I've never completely understood why they couldn't expand on the relationship between Kat and Connor. There was a deep feeling of respect between them and during that time in history, pagan and Christian, if they came to an understanding between them intermarried easily enough. Especially in the early days of Christian introduction to the Celtic tribes. Molly was a distraction, an interesting character but a distraction from the relationship of Kat and Connor. Disappointing in the lack of development of either relationship.
I'd like to thank SciFi for giving me a chance to see it once in a while again.
Completely agree with other comment here about this great series, Roar. When it first showed I was absolutely blown away by the then fairly unknown Heath Ledger, aside from being easy on the eye he was a fabulous young actor and every week I wanted more Roar. This show had it all, brilliant acting, wonderful cinematography and directing, great cast, exciting story lines, passion, intrigue, fighting and magic - what more could they possibly want? At a time when Zena and Hercules were getting huge ratings Roar should definitely have been a winner. When it suddenly disappeared from the screen "disappointed" did not cover it - years later I spotted it's name slotted at midnight in the TV guide for two weeks running - so I taped it - only to get late night shopping instead! It never showed that I could see. Obviously Heath Ledger is too big a name now if the series continued but there are plenty of other great young actors who might attempt to fill his shoes as "Conor" - or simply rerunning the series would be big ratings now he is who he is. Maybe I just miss his Irish accent?
Could this show just BE anymore kickin'? I loved it!!! It was sooo cool. I
cried when I found out that it was cancelled. EVIL FOX! Why did I like
Well, first I've always been drawn to Celtic mythology and this surpassed my expectations in using it. The acting was great, the music kicked, and the writing was so great I can't believe it. Why do shows like this ALWAYS get cancelled???
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
ROAR was a rarity in TV viewing. Hands down. Not only did you have a period piece, but it was a period piece with a soul that beat through out it. In reading one review I saw mentioned about lack of character development. Well, they didn't have much chance for it after being shut down after only 8 episodes being aired (in the USA). Yes some episodes were campy and others were down right tear wrenching. But there was no doubt from the beginning this show marched to the beat of a different drum from other shows like Xena and Hercules which invaded the scene at the same time. Perhaps it was the lack of marketing promise since the whole pulse of the show was spiritual rather than "fun" and action hero figure inducing. Or it could have been the 1 million an episode that FOX couldn't take on. Perhaps it was a little of both. The one thing I do know it wasn't the audience rating which remained pretty high for a summer first run. Today, it has a cult following all over the globe, repeats are aired on the SciFi channel all the time. It was just now released on DVD (though disappointed they left out all of Loreena McKennitt's songs and they don't have the episodes in their right order *grrrrr!* but still just as magical). If you love Celtic myths and legends, a show which is spiritual (including Druidic and Christian beliefs that merge), you love action and adventure and you want to view a show that makes you FEEL something... makes you laugh and cry (sometimes at the same time) get the DVD. You WILL NOT be disappointed.
Before he became a household name and invaded the dreams of almost every
teenaged girl in North America, Heath Ledger starred in a little known
action adventure series called "Roar."
I remember singing "Roar"'s praises when Fox first premiered it as a summer fill-in six years ago. It was a daring show--an action adventure series which took place in Celtic Ireland in the 5th century CE (1200 years before Shakespeare) starring a cast of unknowns. The story lines were great: a reluctant hero fulfill his destiny by uniting clans against the Romans. It lasted maybe eight or ten episodes, but it was a smart, imaginative, entertaining drama.
(I watched an episode on Sci-Fi last night, trying to figure out where I know Sebastian Roche (Longinus, the immortal) from. He played heavy metal star C-Square in an episode of "Law & Order.")
In the wake of Braveheart, and with Hercules becoming the juggernaut of
New Zealand B-rated show entertainment, Roar came out with some hype
and fanfare, appealing to fantasy/history buffs out there. Roar
featured warriors, Romans, druids, and early Christians. Some
supernatural stuff is featured, but it is small and only figures in
some of the plots.
The majority of the show focuses on young Connor, forced to become the leader of a tribe, fighting against Roman encroachment and the problems of being a leader. Heath Ledger, young and fresh, fills these big shoes quite well. The acting all around is superb, many of the characters unique (for their day) and stand outs. As you watch the show, Lisa Zane and Sebastian Roche become some of the most fascinating characters and you almost want to see more of their tortured, bizarre lives.
The show has some faults. How a black man ends up in Ireland can throw some people off, but he is quickly and succintly explained away, and his race never figures into any of the episode plots. Gun powder is mentioned in one episode (one too many). A few episodes are a little cheesy, but can be tolerated.
Overall, a great show, great episodes, great use of a shoe-string budget to keep the episodes going. When you compare this show to others like "Lost World" and "Beastmaster," you wonder why those continued on and this show didn't. The show pretty much started out with a story arc, which could have hurt it; other shows of this genre usually have episodic plots, or maybe they sold the show to the wrong people.
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