Saturday, January 23rd, 1999
During the first season of the incredibly bad Nightman (seen Saturday nights and every so often at 2 in the morning on channel 46) they had a weekly recapitulation where a lab-coated man of science explained to saxaphonist/crimefighter Johnny Domino why he was hearing these voices in his head, "and Doc, they’re all bad voices." Veteran Avengers actor Patrick MacNee gave it all he had. That lightning strike caused Domino’s head to become something like a cosmic radio, he explained in deepest profundity to the baffled piece of beefcake before him. "And Johnny, you’re tuned to the frequency
Eeeee-ville. It always sounds well, evil-er, with a British accent.
They’ve taken that explanation off the open in this show’s second season, possibly to avoid royalty payments to MacNee, and deprived me of just one more of my guilty pleasures. Edward J. Wood may be dead, but the tradition of really bad filmmaking continues in syndication, a land where all the dialog is just about that bad, all the world looks like Canada or Mexico, and all the implants are way below average.
Forget the first-tier productions like (I can’t believe I’m saying this) Baywatch or Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. No, they have a budget. I’m talking about The Crow: Stairway to Heaven, Poltergeist: The Legacy, Air America, Acapulco H.E.A.T., Pensacola: Wings of Gold, Highlander: The Raven, and their ilk.
Oh yeah, and that Pamela Anderson Lee one.
And that Viper thing, and Psi Factor: Tales of the Paranormal .and did I mention Earth: Final Conflict?
You’ll find them lurking in and around movies on weekends, on late at night Saturday and Sunday, on plain old broadcast televison for the most part—I won’t even get into their cable cousins Silk Stalkings and the like here. Maybe it’s just that frequent ingestions of these broadcast empty calories reassure me that whatever I do in television is somehow nobler. Maybe it’s just because I like seeing familiar places in Vancouver and Toronto masquerading as the south (this, of course, was part of the fun of The X-Files before they moved south to help David Duchovny’s marriage. Who knew that North Georgia looked just like the Pacific Northwest?)
Naah, it’s just the overwhelming implausibility of it all. The superhero/crimefighter/saxaphonist and his police lieutenant babe-friend. A crack group of Canadian-accented US government investigators, led by Max Headroom, working out of a series of mobile trailers (much larger inside than out) with a deadpan narration by Dan Ackroyd at the beginning of each hour. A dead (you heard me) musician/motorcyclist/crimefighter, and his police lieutenant buddy. An immortal (oh, that’s better) babe/thief-turned-crimefighter, and her ex-police lieutenant buddy. Mr. Barbra Streisand and his crew of top gun wannabes, greased up, hair-gelled, and ready to fight for us. A secret operations force that uses Dennis Rodman as a mission specialist (at least they didn’t say master of disguise.) A protective services agency that uses Pamela Anderson Lee as their front (make up your own joke here.) A top secret force of babe operatives, led by Lorenzo Lamas, based in a nonexistent country where oh, forget it.
It’s just plain cheese. It’s do-it-yourself Mystery Science Theater. It’s a fine way to keep Canadian theatrical unemployment to a minimum. So enjoy all you want, they’ll make more.