SITA: Shows I kind of miss from The UPN

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

SITA: Shows I kind of miss from The UPN

The United Paramount Network (UPN) was an American broadcast television network that launched on January 16, 1995, initially carrying programming only on Monday and Tuesday nights.  Like Fox had done a decade earlier, UPN started with a few nights of programming each week, with additional nights of primetime shows gradually being added over the course of several seasons.  Thus, for all intents and purposes, its affiliates were still basically independents during the network's early years.

The first telecast, the two-hour pilot episode of Star Trek: Voyager, was an auspiciously widely viewed start, having been seen by 21.3 million viewers; however, Voyager would never achieve such viewership levels again, nor would any of the series debuting on UPN's second night of broadcasting survive the season.  In contrast, The WB debuted one week earlier, on January 11, with four series – only one of which, Muscle, would not survive its first season.  The first comedy series to debut on UPN were Platypus Man, starring Richard Jeni, and Pig Sty, with both shows airing Monday nights in the 9:00 p.m. hour; both received mixed reviews, and neither lasted long.

Other early UPN programs included the action series Nowhere Man, starring Bruce Greenwood and Marker, starring Richard Grieco; the comic western Legend starring Richard Dean Anderson; the science-fiction themed action series, The Sentinel; and Moesha, a sitcom starring Brandy Norwood.  Of the network's early offerings, only Star Trek: Voyager, Moesha and The Sentinel would last longer than one season.  As a result of the lack of viewership, UPN operated on a loss and had lost $800 million by 2000.

Within nearly two years of the network's launch, on December 8, 1996, Paramount/Viacom purchased a 50% stake in UPN from Chris-Craft.  Over time, UPN began to run additional nights of programming.  The first expansion came with the addition of Wednesday primetime programming in the 1996–1997 season.  Thursday and Friday nights were the last to be added to the network's primetime slate, beginning with the 1998–1999 season.

Star Trek: Voyager and Star Trek: Enterprise were high profile series that aired on the UPN so I will not be referencing them.  These are a few of the shows you might have forgotten about from the UPN.

All Souls (2001)

Genre:  Horror - Drama

Starring: Grayson McCouch, Adam Rodriguez, Christian Tessier, Daniel Cosgrove, Irma P. Hall, Serena Scott Thomas, Reiko Aylesworth, Jean LeClerc

No. of Seasons: 1

No. of Episodes: 6

All Souls was a horror-drama series about a haunted Boston hospital called All Souls Hospital, and it followed Dr. Mitchell Grace's quest to find out the truth about the hauntings that dated as far back as the civil war.  The program was cancelled in late August 2001 due to low ratings.

All Souls Hospital's lower levels used to be a mental asylum, and are haunted by ghosts of dead patients. The ghosts notably include Lazarus, an orderly who has been benevolently haunting the hospital since his days working with Dr. Ambrosius after the Civil War.

Deadly Games (1995–1996)

Genre:  Sci-fi - Drama

Starring:  Cynthia Gibb, James Calvert, Stephen T. Kay, Christopher Lloyd

No. of Seasons:  1

No. of Episodes:  13

The short-lived hour long action show about a video game coming to life.  Most notable for the involvement of Leonard Nimoy as an executive producer and Christopher Lloyd as the series chief-villain, The Sebastian Jackal. Recently-divorced anti-matter physicist Dr. Gus Lloyd decides to take his mind off all his personal drama by creating an autobiographical video game in his spare time.  In it, he is the lead hero "The Cold-Steel Kid"—a commando-type vigilante hero trying to save a planet that's being destroyed and becoming barren.

Along with Love Interest "The Girl" (based off his own ex-wife Lauren Ashborne), he fights the forces of the evil Jackal, who are all based off people from Gus's life who've all accosted and traumatized him in some way.

When Gus' latest experiment causes the characters from the game to come to life, and they're planning on carrying out the schemes from the game. Now Gus, along with his best friend Peter and the reluctant ex-Lauren (since "her" character is important to the game), have to find and stop his characters before they can carry out their missions to end laughter, pleasure and life itself.

Freedom (2000)

Genre:  Action - Alternative Reality - Dystopian

Starring:  Holt McCallany, Scarlett Chorvat, Bodhi Elfman, Darius McCrary, Georg Stanford Brown, James Morrison, Fran├žoise Yip, Nigel Johnson

No. of Seasons:  1

No. of Episodes:  12

Freedom is a short-lived 2000 American science fiction television show.  There were 12 episodes filmed (actually 13, as the pilot eventually broadcast had been reshot with somewhat different casting) but only 7 were aired in the US.  Some episodes were further aired internationally, and the full series is still occasionally broadcast in Brazil.

After war breaks out in the Middle East, the President of the United States travels extensively to resolve the matter but the plane goes down and he (or she) is presumed dead.  The US is taken over by United States military forces in what becomes an invisible coup.  Four soldiers who do not go along with the takeover work with a wider resistance movement against the military government in order to restore the Constitution and freedom to the people.

Haunted (2002)

Genre:  Action – Drama – Paranormal – Mystery

Starring:  Matthew Fox, Russell Hornsby, Lynn Collins, Michael Irby, John Mann

No. of Seasons:  1

No. of Episodes:  11

Haunted, which was filmed in Vancouver, was canceled in November 2002 due to low ratings.  As a result, only seven of the completed episodes were aired.  However, all eleven filmed episodes have subsequently been shown in international airings of the show.  In August 2007, the series aired on HDNet.  The series then began airing on Sci Fi in September 2007 and January 2008.  In 2009, Chiller began airing this program as part of their daily marathon line-up.  It plays there sporadically.  A marathon of the entire series ran all day on October 31, 2010 on Universal HD.

Police officer Frank Taylor had the perfect job and perfect family.  After his son's unsolved abduction, his life, marriage and career disintegrate.  He leaves the force to become a private investigator specializing in missing and abducted children cases.  His ex-wife has come to terms with the loss of their child, but Frank is obsessed with one day finding their son.  One day Frank's life is forever changed while trying to apprehend Simon, a man linked to several child abductions who eludes the police.  A fatal clash leaves Simon dead and Frank in critical condition.  As the doctors try to save his life, Frank has a near-death experience in which he sees his missing son.  When Frank regains consciousness, he finds that the dead can communicate with him, and that their confusing and frightening manifestations are usually intended to help him in his work.  Some of the dead however—including Simon—abuse his new abilities to intentionally mislead or harm him.

Homeboys in Outer Space (1996–1997)

Genre:  Fantasy - Sitcom

Starring:  Flex, Darryl Bell

No. of Seasons:  1

No. of Episodes:  21

The plot centers around two astronauts, Tyberius "Ty" Walker (Flex) and Morris Clay (Bell), who flew around the universe in a winged car, nicknamed the "Space Hoopty", in the 23rd century.  The duo's car, which was a cross between a lowrider and an 18 wheeler, was piloted by a talking female computer named Loquatia.  The show was intended as a parody of science fiction shows such as Star Trek, or even a parody/homage to the successful space comedy Red Dwarf.

Jake 2.0 (2003)

Genre:  Science Fiction – Action - Drama

Starring: Christopher Gorham, Philip Anthony-Rodriguez, Judith Scott, Marina Black, Keegan Connor Tracy

No. of Seasons:  1

No. of Episodes:  16

The series revolves around a computer expert, Jake Foley, who works for the U.S. government's National Security Agency (NSA) and was accidentally infected by nanobots which give him superhuman powers.  He is able to control technology with his brain, making him "the ultimate human upgrade" according to the show's introduction.

Level 9 (2000–2001)

Genre:  Science Fiction – Drama – Action – Thriller

Starring:  Fab Filippo, Kate Hodge, Michael Kelly, Romany Malco, Max Martini, Kim Murphy, Susie Park, Esteban Powell, Tim Guinee

No. of Seasons:  1

No. of Episodes:  13

The plot revolved around a secret agency within the government, staffed by government agents, tech-savvy geeks, and former criminal hackers, which is tasked with solving or preventing cyber crimes.

Thirteen episodes were produced, ten of which were aired on UPN, before the program was canceled in January 2001 due to low ratings.  In August 2006, the Sci-Fi Channel acquired rerun rights to the series which was added to their schedule in June 2007.  Sci-Fi aired the episodes never shown by UPN in February 2008.

Mercy Point (1998)

Genre:  Science Fiction

Starring:  Joe Morton, Maria del Mar, Alexandra Wilson, Brian McNamara, Julia Pennington, Gay Thomas, Jordan Lund

No. of Seasons: 1

No. of Episodes:  8

Mercy Point was an American science fiction series that ran from the fall of 1998 to the midsummer of 1999 on UPN.  The series, set in the mid-23rd century, took place on a deep-space medical space station (the eponymous "Mercy Point") that catered to the medical needs of both humans and aliens, and served as a crossroads for both human and alien civilizations, as well as between the military and civilian agencies of human culture.  While short-running, the series benefited from complex characters and intriguing hints at the greater universe outside of the hospital's hull.  It was created by Trey Callaway, David Simkins, and Milo Frank and executive produced by Trey Callaway, Michael Katleman, Lee David Zlotoff, Peter Guber, Scott Sanders, and Joe Voci.

Nowhere Man (1995–1996)

Genre: Drama - Science fiction – Mystery – Thriller

Starring:  Bruce Greenwood

No. of Seasons:  1

No. of Episodes:  25

Nowhere Man is the story of photojournalist Thomas Veil, who discovers that his life has been abruptly "erased": his friends claim not to know him, his wife claims not to recognize him and is living with another man.  His ATM cards and credit cards no longer work.  His best friend turns up dead.  His mother, recovering from a stroke, is incapable of confirming his existence.  In the course of a single evening, every trace of Tom's identity is gone.

Tom believes this is a conspiracy related to a photograph he took a year earlier, depicting four men being hanged in South America by what appear to be US soldiers.  The only evidence Tom has of his past are the negatives of that photograph.  A mysterious organization covertly pursues Tom in search of the negatives.  The series revolves around Veil's attempts to get his life back by trying to find out more about the organization, while also trying to keep the negative safe.

It is revealed that Tom had been captured by the organization prior to the events of the series' first episode, and that all his memories of his life, including his marriage and even his name, had been implanted as part of a brainwashing experiment known as Project Marathon.  He learns that he is actually a covert government operative codenamed "Gemini", and is part of a secret task force called "Heritage House" which was formed to investigate the organization and Project Marathon.  He also learns that his copy of the "Hidden Agenda" photograph, as well as his memories of having taken it, have been altered, and that the original negative shows that the four men being lynched are actually U.S. senators being murdered by the organization.

In the final episode, Tom questions the "number two man at the FBI" at gunpoint, but the man commits suicide rather than risk revealing information under torture.  The series ends with Tom watching a videotape that had been in the FBI man's possession, a film that finally explains everything.

Seven Days (1998–2001)

Genre:  Science Fiction - Drama

Starring:  Jonathan LaPaglia, Don Franklin, Norman Lloyd, Justina Vail, Nick Searcy, Sam Whipple, Alan Scarfe, Kevin Christy

No. of Seasons:  3

No. of Episodes:  66

Three seasons of Seven Days were produced.  All three seasons have been shown in North America, while the BBC broadcast the first season in the United Kingdom.  There are currently no plans to release the entire series on DVD and/or Blu-ray from Paramount Home Entertainment and CBS Home Entertainment.

The plot follows a secret branch of the United States' National Security Agency which has developed a time travelling device based upon alien technology found at Roswell.  As the opening of the show says, the Chronosphere, or Backstep Sphere, sends "one human being back in time seven days" to avert disasters.  The show's name refers to the fact that the Backstep Project can only backstep seven days because of limitations imposed by the fuel source and its reactor.  As the fuel source is limited, there is a strict mandate that they only Backstep for events relating to "National Security".  The backstep team and the equipment are stationed in a base called Never Never Land, which is in a secret location somewhere in the desert of Nevada.

Special Unit 2 (2001–2002)

Genre:  Horror – Drama

Starring:  Michael Landes, Alexondra Lee, Danny Woodburn, Richard Gant, Jonathan Togo, Sean Whalen, Pauley Perrette, Mike Rad

No. of Seasons:  2

No. of Episode:  19 +an unaired pilot

With the exception of vampires, every monster from folklore and mythology is a missing link between apes and humans, and they all seem to love Chicago.  To combat the threat, Chicago PD formed Special Unit 2, known to the rest of the department as a deep-cover plainclothes unit they should steer clear of, to hunt them down and eliminate them.  Officer Kate Benson, who has always been seeing things out of the corner of her eye since childhood, gets recruited into the unit when she discovers people are being kidnapped by real-life gargoyles for food and is paired up with trigger-happy Nicholas O'Malley.

The Burning Zone (1996–1997)

Genre:  Science Fiction - Drama

Starring:  James Black, Michael Harris, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Tamlyn Tomita

No. of Seasons:  1

No. of Episodes:  19

The Burning Zone featured a team of American agents who could be almost instantly dispatched almost anywhere in the world to fight biological warfare and naturally occurring biohazards. The series is believed to be cashing in on the success of the New York Times bestseller The Hot Zone, which spawned biological disaster movies like Outbreak.  There was a villainous organization known as "The Dawn" that was responsible for some of the threats the team faced.  The members of "The Dawn" were shadowy and never fully exposed but their goals and aims were clear:  To allow disease and pestilence of a biological nature restore the Earth by rendering extinct the most virulent pestilence of all—mankind.

The Sentinel (1996–1999)

Genre:  Science Fiction - Drama

Starring:  Richard Burgi, Garett Maggart, Bruce A. Young, Kelly Curtis, Anna Galvin

No. of Seasons:  4

No. of Episodes:  65

Jim Ellison was a US Army Ranger who spent 18 months in the Peruvian jungle after the rest of his unit was killed. He developed hyperacute senses from surviving in the wild, but repressed them when he returned to civilization.  His sensory abilities re-manifested five years later, while conducting an extended stakeout in the forest as a detective in the Major Crimes Unit of the Cascade, Washington, police department.  He went to a hospital for an examination where he met Blair Sandburg, an anthropologist from Rainier University, whom Ellison initially mistook for a physician.  Upon hearing Ellison's story, Sandburg declares that Ellison is a "Sentinel": in ancient tribes, Sentinels used their enhanced senses to protect their village.  For Jim, Cascade is his village.  Blair had been studying Sentinel mythology for years, but he had never before found a person with all five senses enhanced, a "true" Sentinel.

Blair helps Jim control his senses and joins Jim as a police observer.  Their unlikely partnership works, and together they fight crime in the streets of Cascade.

Jim's hyperacute senses allow him to perceive things undetectable by normal humans.  He can see perfectly in low light situations and with superb acuity at long distances, hear sounds at extremely low volume or beyond the normal range of human hearing, and sense what others can't via taste, touch and smell; he declares himself "a walking forensic lab".  Jim's powers have a drawback: if he concentrates too strongly on one sense, he may become oblivious to his immediate surroundings.  Part of Blair's job is preventing this, and protecting Jim when he is focusing.

The only person aside from Sandburg who knows Jim's secret is his captain and friend, Simon Banks.

Wolf Lake (2001–2002)

Genre:  Supernatural – Drama - Horror

Starring:  Lou Diamond Phillips, Tim Matheson, Mia Kirshner, Paul Wesley, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Scott Bairstow, Sharon Lawrence, Graham Greene

No. of Seasons:  1

No. of Episodes:  9 +1 unaired pilot

Wolf Lake follows a pack of werewolves living in a Seattle suburb.  The first 5 episodes aired on CBS, but due to low ratings CBS cancelled it.  A total of nine aired episodes and a non-aired pilot were made before the show was cancelled.  UPN acquired the rights (but didn't produce any new episodes) and re-aired the entire show.  ITV bought the rights to show the series in the United Kingdom and the SCI FI Channel bought the rights to show the series in the United States.  Ran Galor's song "Quiet the Night" was the theme song.  There was an unaired pilot to the series that would have taken the storyline in a very different direction.  Wolf Lake: The Complete Series is available on DVD.

Seattle policeman John Kanin proposes to his girlfriend, Ruby Wilder, and she accepts.  However, as she gets into her car, she is attacked and all Kanin finds is a severed hand.  He travels to her hometown of Wolf Lake to find some answers.  However, his experiences there raise even more questions.  What John doesn't know is that some of the inhabitants of Wolf Lake are actually werewolves.  The werewolves, or the ones who survive the change, live on the "Hill" and enjoy special treatment, separated from the normal humans.

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