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TV executives are a strange breed. They often commission a series and order a certain number of episodes from the producers. They will then proceed NOT to publicise or market said series, before either scheduling it in a prime-time slot opposite an established runner on a competing channel, or consigning it to a late-night "graveyard" slot to be screened when the world is sleeping. They will then hold up their hands in dismay and wonder why on earth their hoped-for viewing figures have failed to materialise, before abruptly cancelling the show half-way through its planned first season before it has even had a chance to build up an audience base. Such a fate almost befell the now massively popular and seemingly never-ending `X-Files', and alas DID befall the wonderful and innovative `Brimstone' which I believe would have become a huge hit if only it had been given a fair chance. This is particularly galling in view of the utter dross that DOES get renewed season after season the singularly awful `Friends' and the massively overrated `Quantum Leap' springing immediately to mind here. The basic premise of `Brimstone' is as follows: In 1983, a New York cop, Zeke Stone, takes the law into his own hands and kills his wife's rapist. Soon afterwards he is killed in the line of duty. Because of this one `evil deed' in an otherwise good life, his soul is sent to Hell. Fifteen years later, the Devil returns him to Earth to hunt down `113 of the most vile creatures' other damned souls who have broken out of Hell and have returned to Earth to sow more evil. The deal is that if Zeke can round up all 113 of the Devil's `wayward children', he gets a second chance at life on Earth as a normal mortal. Outwardly Zeke looks like a normal living man, and he can eat, drink, sleep and feel all human emotions. Yet he is like the damned souls he is hunting a `walking dead man' and cannot be hurt except by another damned soul. And the only way for Zeke to return a damned soul to Hell is to get up close and personal and take out their eyes (the `windows to the soul'). Clearly, by giving Zeke so many damned souls to hunt down (he basically rounds up one per episode), it seems that the original intention was for the show to run for 5 or 6 seasons. As it was, it managed to run for just half a season (a total of only 13 episodes) before the Men in Grey Suits at Fox pulled the plug. Unfortunately the final episode of `Brimstone' (which of course was never meant to be the final episode) was a massive anti-climax Zeke didn't even manage to send that week's damned soul back Downstairs and the viewer is left with a feeling of the story being left hanging in mid-air. Which unfortunately it was. Series cancelled prematurely just as an ongoing story sub-plot was getting established. The casting of Peter Horton as Zeke Stone and John Glover as The Devil was nothing short of inspired. Horton gives a superb performance as the shabby and down-at-heel detective Stone, with Glover's whimsical, humorous yet obviously `evil' Devil stealing every scene he's in. The interplay between the two leads is an absolute joy to watch, with Zeke simply wanting The Devil to leave him in peace to get on with the job of hunting down the wayward souls, and The Devil constantly popping up at inopportune moments to chide, tease and sometimes threaten the harrassed detective. Lori Petty also does a semi-regular turn as the manager of the run-down hotel that Zeke uses as his base. The show's overall look and feel is dark, gothic and not a little spooky, much of the camerawork being shadowy and brooding, giving the whole thing a very eery atmosphere indeed. The Devil's humour is likewise quite dark, and in keeping with the show, it never degenerates into silly comedy. One can only wonder about what other evil souls Stone would have had to round up in subsequent adventures, had the series been given a fair crack of the whip. As it was, we saw him round up and send back to Hell such adversaries as a Carthaginian general, a sexy but deadly 1920s plague carrier, a beautiful Medieval French temptress who sets her suitors on fire, a former SS concentration camp warder, an ancient Chinese poet who writes using the blood of virgins and in a nice twist in Episode 3 his wife's rapist, whom he has to hunt down and `kill' a second time. Originally Fox ordered 19 episodes for the first `Brimstone' season. And some time ago I found on the Web a short synopsis (written by the show's producers) of the six episodes that should have been made but weren't. If anybody reading this wants to know what would have happened in the rest of Season One, mail me and I'll happily send you the synopses. No doubt it's too much to hope for a relaunch of the show by another network. And a DVD or video release are probably just as unlikely. I fear that this great show will soon be forgotten by all but a small die-hard following. So if you see this show in syndication on a local TV channel, watch it while you still can. Don't miss out on this wonderful series.
Discerning television viewers will agree that really good shows are few and far between. Sure there's enough fast food around to keep our jaws working, but eventually we all long for a wholesome, home-cooked meal. And few things rival the satisfaction of sitting down to such a meal. Brimstone is one show that delivers this kind of satisfaction. Just when I had become used to the fast-track glitz and shallow humour of late 90's TV, Brimstone comes along and opens my eyes. It is an extremely enjoyable series. It's dark, grim, sad, but very intelligent, and often very funny. The razor-sharp innuendoes are the wittiest I've come across in a long time. The story is captivating. The dark blue shining in almost every scene is eerie, and sets the mood just right. To top it all off, we have a deliciously enjoyable bad guy (the Devil, played by John Glover), and interesting episodal villains. But, for me, who steals the show is Peter Horton. He plays the taciturn, unwilling hero so convincingly and honestly that he became a favourite of mine right from the first episode. He is MARVELLOUS. But, sadly, this gem is another scalp on the belt of the Network Butchers. The network that cancelled Brimstone have proven again that they have NO idea what quality viewing is. Their complete disregard for innovation and originality propels them into a new realm of ignorance. You will always be followers FOX, because, perhaps, you were never destined to lead. I mourn for Brimstone.
Every so often, I re-watch my Brimstone tapes (of the Sci-Fi airings, since
I didn't even know it existed when it was on FOX), and am amazed at just how
good a show this is. It had a great pilot, great acting and excellent
dialogue, and the cast had great chemistry together. In fact, I like every
single aspect of this show (*including* Lori Petty). It's just too bad that
it started out on FOX, especially FOX on Friday night.
Maybe if we're lucky, one day, Warner Home Video will release it on DVD. Then, maybe I'll be able to see "Ashes" without the pixilation glitch that's in Sci-Fi's copy, and without the damn Sci-Fi popup ads., bugs, and squashed credits with voice-overs, and more people will be exposed to this fine show. With my luck though, Warners will have improperly stored the film, and it'll have the uncorrected film defects problems seen on their Babylon 5 DVDs (all of which I'm buying, BTW, if only for the extras).
It's too bad Warners doesn't treat their shows better, and make their Season Sets as showpieces. That's what I'd want my Babylon 5, Crusade and Brimstone season sets to be, showpieces that would blow people's socks off.
Which is, unfortunately, mostly what succeeds on TV these days. Shows
such as Brimstone are just too intelligent, and go over the head of
Average Joe TV Viewer (or Average Joe TV Executive). With all the
proliferation and specialization of TV channels these days, maybe some
day we can have an "Intelligent TV Channel" where shows like these can
flourish and those too dim to "get it" can just remove it from their
Black humor is under-appreciated, and intelligent black humor is just beyond too many people, unfortunately. And Brimstone was chock full of it. Add to that a completely original premise, some decent action, good acting and the wonderful, delicious Lori Petty (::melt::) and Brimstone was a real winner. Too bad the suits didn't "get it".
Any TV producers out there reading this -- there's an idea for you. Create an "Intelligent TV Channel", and give us shows like this, or Max Headroom, Key West, Cupid, etc. You could even call it that, as a dig at the mindless drivel that pours off the screen most of the time.
Don't view with eyes thirsting for the macabre- it's more than that. Brimstone is about a guy who gets to come back from the dead, metaphorically speaking. Many of the psychological elements, take the flashbacks that torment Stone, tell us a story about a fair man who's not perfect, like any person, yet has to struggle with the frustration of the reality that is his afterlife. He's gone, but Stone won't let go. Brimstone is more of a dead man's odyssey of seeing the fruits he missed out on had he lived on, as well as his regrets often cruelly reinforced by the Devil. The chemistry between the two is phenomenal! They nearly had the makings of the `textbook classic duo', perfectly complementary, opposite polars, and ironically comedic together. Intelligent scripts with line after line of worthy quotables, the dark tone of the pictures dictating its Hellish imagery, and the cleverness of the creators to add love to what would otherwise be a typical Sci-Fi flick make this motion painting a true cult classic!
This show showed the greatest amount of promise. It was a more realistic form of X-files with a focus more on the supernatural than the alien. Why was it better? Moments of dark comedy was one reason. The devil pops up in a cafe with Stone and orders " a big piece of angelfood cake." I almost fell out of my seat, laughing. But, it wasn't all dark comedy... some episodes mirrored "Its a wonderful Life," such as the one where Stone was visited by the other angel, one of the non fallen variety. Horton and the rest of the cast put on a marvelous show. The way the two characters played off one another was excellent, allowing the devil to be evil, but at the same time, full of trickery. He is afterall, the Lord of Lies, right? It was just a well rounded show, full of surprises, like Ash's true alliance. It had romance, drama, dark comedy, action, and mystery. It was intelligent, which, of course, means it could not take the Fox line up. I place this show above X-files because it advanced, while it seems X-files is still about Mulder believing and nobody else buying it.
Brimstone is (was) one of the best shows on TV. I only got a chance to catch the rerun of a few episodes in March. If FOX ever attempted to market this show, I missed it. I only found it by chance. It only took a few minutes to see that this show was different. OK, so maybe I never got through much of Milton, but I loved the universal themes of good and evil and how it's difficult sometimes to tell them apart. The creators of this series pick up on the basic premise of fallen angels and marry it to a slick detective series. The mix makes for some great moments, both funny and remorseful. This show should have been given more of a chance to build an audience before they pulled the plug.
Sometimes, a television show comes along that goes against the grain.
It doesn't play to any requirements to be successful...it allows the
public to judge for itself whether they like it or not. This is TV on
the edge. This supernatural story ultimately comes down to the
relationship between the two main characters, one a tortured soul, the
other his tormentor.
Despite the cracking storyline from week to week, the underlying story is remarkably developed. The true beauty of the show is each episode can be seen as a 'stand alone' or as a wonderful slice of religious science fiction. However, the series from start to finish leaves you with the feeling of hope for its main character.
It's too bad this show didn't live long enough for people to discover
At first glance, it seems just like another stupid fantasy show. However it's not like others of its ilk. It was well written and entertaining. Not the typical mind-numbing fare which is TV today.
Enjoy the reruns. It's a show which should have another shot but I doubt it will get the chance. If it did, it's unlikely the studios wouldn't destroy it in the next incarnation.
This was a knockout series on just about every level, from its singular look, to the writing, to the directing, and most especially to the acting! I had heard of Peter Horton previous to Brimstone only in relation to the yuppie self-indulgence fest known as Thirtysomething, which by no means recommended him highly to me. Turns out I had NOTHING to worry about. He gives Zeke Stone a note-perfect mix of soulful anguish and world-weariness, and he can still find the occasional light moment in his Purgatory on Earth. Make no mistake, though, this is a deep, dark show that deals with fundamental questions of right and wrong, Heaven and Hell. In fact, I'd recommend it to any devout Christians as a fantastic morality play. The line between light and dark is often obscured and who really deserves to go to Hell is pretty much the question each episode, but that's what made it such a compelling program. Can't finish without lauding John Glover's tour de force performance as the Devil himself. You might find yourself grudgingly liking this version of the Prince of Lies, even when he screws over Stone almost every chance he gets! I can't recommend this show highly enough, and I'm DYING to see this get to DVD! Anyone know who and how to lobby to get it?
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