ORBzine - 2000.01 UK Television Review: Brimstone

ORBzine - TV Reviews: Brimstone January 2000

Brimstone [Season 1, Episode 1] Pilot
Shown 2nd Week January 2000
Shown 30th October 2001 [Tuesday]

This is the kind of dark, hard-edged supernatural thriller that Angel Chronicles and End of Days can only ASPIRE to be.

It starts slowly enough. A bedraggled man wakes up on the NYC subway, and goes to a Catholic Church for confession. He claims he is a cop-turned vigilante who died and went to Hell, where he made a deal with the devil; he has to hunt down 113 souls who have escaped back to Earth. The first assignment is a priest who murders children because he thinks it is prophesied in the Book of Revelations ...

This is a great introduction. Do we believe the unlikely-looking hero who is trying to kill a Catholic priest on behalf of Satan? The priest is played by Peter Woodward, who is quite frightening [especially when compared with his wooden performance as Galen The Technomage in B5: Crusade ].

The star [Peter Horton] is also a producer. The music is by Peter Gabriel, and the story editor is Fred Golan.

Brimstone [Season 1, Episode 2] Heat
Shown 3rd Week January 2000
Shown 31st October 2001 [Wednesday]

This is a REAL dark thriller, as opposed to Angel Chronicles. This week the cop from Hell chases a sexy witch. She incinerates every man she becomes intimate with. With the help of her shrink [ Lindsay Crouse ] she discovers the source of her problem: she was sent to Hell for murdering the men [and their families] who raped her. This is especially ironic, because Stone did pretty much the same thing.

This episode seems to have been shown out of order: it is set in LA, and features Teri Polo as Detective Ash.

Brimstone [Season 1, Episode 3] Encore
Shown 4th Week January 2000
Shown 1st November 2001 [Thursday]

The undead cop Stone taunted by Satan into investigating another case. This time it is a serial rapist - yes, the same perp who raped Stone's wife [ Stacey Haiduk ], the same perp who Stone executed and went to Hell for.

We get to see the perp's mother [Louise Fletcher - Star Trek: DS9 ], and are reminded that even rapists have next-of-kin. But in a sick world, is a raper the worst? Promoting sex perverts [even serial offenders] as the most evil of evil is a disturbingly PC approach. In the episode of la Femme Nikita shown the same night, our heroine is forced to team up with a man who abducts prostitutes. But he doesn't rape them. Oh no. He hangs them up by their wrists and disects them with surgical equipment while they're still conscious. Now THAT is true evil.

Brimstone [Season 1, Episode 4] Repentance
Shown 2nd November 2001 [Friday]

This sees the cop from Hell hunt down a madman who's butchering homeless people. The missing soul is a Dutch SS officer - a stereotypical villain, you might think, but there is far more depth than one might suspect.

The guest-star is Lori Petty [Tank Girl] - she is the receptionist in the hero's apartment building, which implies the part will be semi-regular ...

Brimstone [Season 1, Episode 5] Poet
Shown 5th November 2001 [Monday]

Stone hunts down a chinese poet who's looking for virgins in the Big City. Well, he gets three ...

The show is notable for its cliched use of flying scarf-things commonly used in Hong Kong kung-fu flicks. Yes, the escaped perps now have supernatural powers! Also worth note, the Guest star is very familiar - Rosalind Chao , who played Keiko in Star Trek: DS9.

Brimstone [Season 1, Episode 6] Executioner
Shown 6th November 2001 [Tuesday]

Stone hunts down a vigilante serial-killer who is electrocuting [by supernatural means] the people the courts let go. Michelle Phillips [Ensign Ro in Star Trek: TNG ] is guest babe of the week.

Lori Petty pops up again - she introduces Stone to things he missed out on during his sojourn in Hell, such as the World Wide Web and the Spice Girls!

What is most notable about the devil in this show is how petty he is. In a previous episode he ties a drunk's shoelaces together, while here he bribes a waitress to spill a drink over the hero's new love interest. Hmm.

Brimstone [Season 1, Episode 7] Slayer
Shown 7th November 2001 [Wednesday]

Stone is confronted by an African-American, who turns out to be a Carthaginian Warrior from Hell. Stone turns down the offer of an alliance, so the warrior comes after him. Conveniently, the warrior's knife has two eye-piercing prongs ...

The Carthaginian taunts Stone by killing off a group of police widows, one by one. Detective Ash [ Teri Polo ] is assigned to protect the women, and Stone gets framed as the killer.

Luckily for Stone, the blind priest has decided to relocate to Los Angeles.

Brimstone [Season 1, Episode 8 of 13] Ashes
Shown 8th November 2001 [Thursday]

Teri Polo reappears as an LAPD detective. Satan [John Glover] needs reading glasses - and for some reason he tears a certain page out of Stone's reading material. Stone has nightmares about being a satanic sacrifice, and discovers it is linked to a church-burning. Apparently pagan snake-god worshippers are destroying monotheist shrines. The show's monotheist angle acknowledges Jews and Muslims, but not Hindu, Buddist or Pagan religions.

There's a neo-Nazi angle [Boo! Hiss!] - as ever there's no such thing as a good Nazi. Look at Verne Schillinger in Oz - he hates drug dealers and child molesters, but ass-rapes other white men for fun.

Stone meets up with a Rabbi and an Imam who are investigating the attacks. They are indistinguishable except for the fact that the Muslim wears a tea-towel on his head for some reason.

The villain is the ringleader of the breakout, with the power to summon the Serpent God's essence. This is obviously the beginning of a story arc, but it has certainly taken its time to appear.

Brimstone [Season 1, Episode 9] Lovers
Shown 9th November 2001 [Friday]

Stone gets himself a new car. New to him, that is - it's older than he is, a bargain at $36.27 ... Typical American car-culture. Why not get a bicycle, or take the bus, I hear you ask? Well, wait until the final scene!

Satan engineers a couple of chance encounters that lead Stone to his next victim, a Hispanic social-climber called Paco Gomez. This evil spic does not know his place, it seems, so Stone decides to do the unpleasant thing with a hood ornament. And there's another sting in the tale; shades of grey in the eternal story of good against evil, as with the reformed Nazi storyline.

Arc-wise, Detective Ash is still MIA. Lori Petty is back again, and may be the long-term love interest. And the question remains - if the escapees were chosen for a reason, if there is an overall plot, how come nobody is actually participating in it?

Brimstone [Season 1, Episode 10] Carrier
Shown 12th November 2001 [Monday]

Stone hunts down a 1920s flapper who was condemned to Hell by Satan even though she has no evil intent. Her only crime? She was a carrier of an incurable, fatal disease, and driven almost insane by solitary confinement. This is based on the true-life case of Typhoid Mary, a simple-minded woman who worked as a cook and did not wash her hands as often as hygenically necessary. Mary ended her days working as a researcher's assistant on Plum Island.

Brimstone [Season 1, Episode 11] Faces
Shown 13th November 2001 [Tuesday]

Stone spends this week hunting down a trio of undead souls. It's Fathers' Day, and he gets the chance to bond with a teenage boy. As always, this show displays a depth not seen in other shows.

The Guest Star is Jerry Hardin [Deep Throat, back from when X-Files was actually watchable].

Brimstone [Season 1, Episode 12] It's a Helluva Life
Shown 14th November 2001 [Wednesday]

Guest-star of the week is Stacey Haiduk , and for once she plays a character who isn't a cold-eyed bitch. She is Stone's widow, and a chance spotting of her [while chasing an undead bank-robber] brings him into conflict with his superior.

We get 2 John Glovers - one as Satan, one as his Angelic brother. Yes, the old it WASN'T a wonderful life - or WAS it? routine has come round. We discover that Stone was an asshole even BEFORE he made himself judge, jury and executioner. Surprise, surprise.

Brimstone [Season 1, Episode 13] Mourning After
Shown 15th November 2001 [Thursday]

There are stacks of Guest Stars in this episode, so we should go through them thoroughly. Stacey Haiduk is back as Stone's wife - first in flashbacks, then as he stakes out her house. In the old days this was romantic, now it is stalking.

John Glover is Satan, and warns Stone away from widow Haiduk. But despite the sense of what he says, we all know he cannot be trusted.

Lori Petty is back, as ever. It is once again implied that Petty's character will be Stone's romantic interest.

Stone keeps getting attacked by poisonous snakes that appear in unusual places, then disappear like phantoms. Satan pleads ignorance - perhaps the 4th guest star [ Teri Polo ] knows something about them ...

Something to note: last time our shapeshifter was a brunette posing as a blonde, and now when the reversion takes place the real stage is blonde, not brunette!



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