Superior Hospital Horror Show, Much Better Than Kingdom Hospital
Wading through a pile of old VHS tapes, I came across one with the first 3 (out of 6 total) episodes of this series. I had positive memories of it when it first aired, and after suffering through ABC's and Stephen King's lame and silly transplanting of Von Trier's The Kingdom to American TV, I thought I'd take another look at this series. While obviously inspired by the original Kingdom, All Souls never stooped as low as King's American version, Kingdom Hospital, simply tracing over most of Von Trier's main characters, along with a few cloyingly sympathetic and laughably scary new characters King pulled out of his arse for his adaptation.
All I can say, it's a real shame UPN never gave this series a chance. I think the suits at the network thought this show would be a good companion "spook show" that they could lure the Buffy The Vampire Slayer audience with after that show jumped from the WB to UPN... The problem with that thinking was All Souls took it's horror VERY seriously, not utilizing the wise-cracking post-modern attitude Buffy copped ("yeah, we know this demon stuff is really silly, so we'll make jokes about it while occasionally acting serious when it's supposed to be life and death at stake, pun not intended there but I'll still use it--in the spirit of Buffy).
All Souls was clearly intended for fans of horror, and it did not disappoint. The show only ran for six episodes, and in that time it managed to establish it's central premise of a haunted hospital in Boston with a dark past dating back to the civil war of horrifying medical atrocities and implied reincarnation of both the evil and the good characters who inflicted and resisted these practices. Disturbing images, ancient underground sections of the "old" All Souls Hospital, and really creepy characters who inhabited the cursed hospital all contributed to an experience that was all too rare for most network "horror" shows. All Souls clearly was working to raise shivers somewhere on viewer's bodies, and mood or a gross-out image would both be used to achieve the desired effect a good horror story should create.
It's a shame the show was never given the green light to continue either through the summer (it debuted in the spring--proof right there UPN was uncomfortable with the show and sought to run through it quickly in a six week period) or picked up for a whole season. Basing an opinion on an incomplete run of a show is like judging how successfully an airplane took-off while it's still up and the air and before it attempts landing--who knows whether it would have crashed and burned with it's subplots by the end of an entire run.
If you're a fan of horror TV and get a chance to catch a look at this show (hopefully on a DVD release), check it out. UPN at least ventured out on a limb with this (X-Files aside, most horror or supernatural show that take themselves seriously without a bunch of teen eye candy to sprout smart-ass one-liners rarely stay on the air past a 13 episode commitment) and produced 6 good, creepy episodes. I have no knowledge if the "big 3" networks took first look at this series' proposal, or Fox or the WB for that matter, but some of them obviously were pitched this and passed on it. A big cheer to the UPN network (the last chance network) for at least taking a chance and putting on the air.
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