Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Lost Treasures: 3 Obscure TV Shows I Want To See Again

Every so often, I get into a nostalgic kick and fire up Netflix to watch some classic TV from my childhood. It doesn't matter if it's still good or if it ever was (and in many cases I find that many of them weren't), it's just fun to remember a time when my cynicism bone had not quite hardened, and I could still fall in love with crazy repetitive crap. Sometimes it backfires, as when I recently attempted to re-watch the entire series of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, forgetting that at the time I was of the age to enjoy it, I was not mature enough to understand the distinction between acting talent and round house kicking ability, but most of the time, I come away from re-living my youth through old TV with a better perspective on who I was back then, and who I am today.

And other times, I want to do this, but I come up empty. It seems strange that in this day and age with the internet and everything we could ever want supposedly at our finger tips, there are still some things I still can't find. I can literally invent a sexual fetish right now, and in the time it takes me to type it into Google, there will already be a website dedicated to it, and yet still, every once in a while, I come across a show that I remember vividly, but find no source from which to find the complete run of episodes. Maybe fleeting bits here or there will show up on Youtube, enough to whet my appetite, but for the obsessive completist like me, to not have the full series of a show from the 90's that was cancelled after one season is just unbearable.

So here's my plea to the internet. I've long since given up on finding these shows in any official capacity, so bootlegs are probably my best bet. If anyone can help find these lost classics, I'd surely appreciate the help.

1: Deadly Games (UPN, 1995)

Okay, so I said they don't always have to be good shows, and I imagine this is one that will probably end up fitting that category if I ever find it, but I still want to see it again anyway. The basic plot was sort of an action/comedy version of Weird Science meets Virtuosity, where a super genius creates a videogame based on his life and something happens that causes the villains from the game to come into real life. It doesn't sound like much from the description, but the thing that attracted me to it was the cast, specifically the guest bad guys. At the time this aired, I was just forming into the Trek geek I would eventually become, and for some reason seemingly half the cast of Star Trek TNG would show up throughout the series as incidental antagonists. The most memorable was Brent Spiner as a lethal practical jokester, which was probably the first thing I ever saw him in that wasn't Data. They were led by a suave and sinister Christopher Lloyd, who by that point had played one of my most beloved and one of my most feared movie icons in Doc Brown and Judge Doom, and they all had to be defeated in some specific way that related to their personalities or effect on the game they came from, often forcing the good guys to trick the bad guy of the week rather than simply using physical force to beat them. I've seen a few episodes posted on Youtube for this one, but I really need to find the whole set or the TV-OCD controlling me might just get the better of me.

2: The War Next Door (USA, 2000)

This one might not be as good as I remember it, but I am inclined to think that it would hold up, that is if any episodes have survived anywhere. I was actually surprised to find out that this wasn't technically a 90's show, as I always remembered it as one, but apparently not. Fans of the classic kids series The Adventures of Pete and Pete may well remember this as the next show created by Will McRobb and Chris Viscardi, and it starred none other than Bus Driver Stu Benedict Damian Young in the role he was born to play, a maniacal supervillain who moves to the suburbs with his family for the sole purpose of antagonizing his retired arch nemesis. It still amazes me that this guy never had a bigger career. The guy left a considerable impression on me and any Nickelodeon fan in the 90's and he doesn't even have a freaking Wikipedia page! Even the fake Youtube show I wrote for like five years ago had a Wikipedia page, before it was deleted for being obviously fake. Come on! Anyway, from what I remember, it was a very dark and nihilistic comedy. Just imagine the kind of things the Pete and Pete guys would come up with playing to an adult audience, but still working within the same kind of surreal world. At least that's how I remember it anyway. Whenever I look it up now, all I can find is a National Geographic special with the same name, as if anyone would want to watch that over an old cancelled USA show.

3: Brats Of The Lost Nebula (Kids WB, 1998)

Yeah, probably another one that will let me down. I mostly want to see it again for the visual aspect. If anyone else remembers this one, it was a live action puppet sci-fi show created by the Jim Henson Company, and it only lasted 3 episodes. Specifically, three of the most ball shrivellingly creepy episodes of a kids show ever produced. This is not a criticism by the way, as when this show was cancelled, it hurt me deeply. I love all things Henson, and this show promised to marry everything I loved at the time and a lot of what I still love today into one glorious clusterfuck of insanity. Looking back on it now and reading the descriptions online to fill the gaps of my memory, it's actually kind of strange to think that the set up for this show, a rag tag group of different aliens on the run from a fascistic alien force, would sort of provide the blueprint for what Farscape would become years later, only for kids instead of adults. It's sad to think that both shows were evidently cancelled for the same reason - budget constraints, which means we may never get another creepy puppet sci-fi gem like it. The only scraps of video I've been able to find on this are a few clips here and there, and some documentary footage uploaded by some of the creators.

So there you have it internet, you have your marching orders. Go find me these shows, so I can re-watch them, enjoy a momentary sense of nostalgic satisfaction, and then probably move on to other things. Seriously, it's an emergency.
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