If you’re a horror fan, rejoice! You’re living in the Golden Age of horror on TV. The last decade has been incredible for fans of horror TV. Shows like The Walking Dead, American Horror Story, True Blood, and Dexter are some of the most popular shows on cable TV. Meanwhile you have Supernatural in its 8th season, and other shows like Grimm, The Following, The Vampire Diaries, among others doing well on the networks. But there were other shows that were good but just were in the wrong place at the time. This week in From the Vault we take a look at four series that lasted a season or less who deserved a better fate.
Years: 1991 – 1992
No. Of Episodes: 19
Cast: Omri Katz
This bizarre little show was one that was definitely ahead of its time. A kind of X-Files lite if you will. Marshall Teller (Katz) is a teenager who moves with his family to the strange town of Eerie, Indiana (Population 16,661). Marshall meets another kid named Simon who turns out to be just about the only other normal person in Eerie. Together the pair uncovers the strange and bizarre secrets of the town.
These include the weird 1950s style family, who seem to never age or change with the time. We soon find out that mom has been keeping her two boys and herself from aging by sleeping each night in “Foreverware”, human-sized version of Tupperware containers. In “The Dead letter” Marshall finds an old undelivered letter in the basement of the town library. He soon becomes haunted by a spirit (played by Tobey Maguire) who pesters him until Marshall delivers the letter.
In “The Lost Hour” Marshall sets his clock back an hour even though the town does not recognize using Daylight Savings Time. When he awakes, he finds himself all alone with another teenaged girl and is stalked by a pair of garbage men who are trying to kill them.
Eerie, Indiana was a fun, weird show. It spawned a one season sequel on Fox Kids in 1997 as well as a book series that featured 17 titles.
Years: 1995 - 1996
No. Of Episodes: 22
Cast: Gary Cole, Lucas Black, Sarah Paulson, Paige Turco, Jake Weber
This short-lived chiller was created and produced by former teen heartthrob Shaun Cassidy, along with Sam Rami and Rob Tapert serving as Executive Producers. The show centered on a young boy named Caleb Temple (Black) and the town’s deliciously evil sheriff, who is also Caleb’s biological father, Lucas Buck (Cole). Buck may, or may not be the devil but he’s at least aided by some dark force which he uses to influence the events in the small southern town of Trinity, South Carolina. Often times he uses his powers to cause fatal ‘accidents” to any who get in his way.
Buck tries to constantly use his influence to try and turn Caleb evil. Caleb’s tragic past includes his mother who died giving birth to him, and his sister Merlyn (American Horror Story’s Sarah Paulson) who witnessed Buck rape Caleb’s mother and was traumatized. Merlyn is killed by Buck in the opening episode but continues to appear throughout the show as a spirit helping to guide Caleb and keep him on the right path. Also helping to oppose Buck is Dr. Crower (Jake Weber) and Caleb’s cousin Gail (Turco) a reporter and former resident of Trinity who has returned to investigate her own parent’s mysterious deaths.
Cole absolutely shined in this series. His combination of Southern charm and pure diabolic demeanor made this show standout.
Years: 1998 - 1999
No. Of Episodes: 13
Cast: Peter Horton, John Glover
Peter Horton plays a Ezekiel Stone, New York City detective who is sent to Hell after murdering the man who raped his wife. Fifteen years later 113 souls escape Hell. The Devil (Glover) gives Stone a chance to redeem himself and return to life, but only if he can track down all 113 escaped souls and return them to Hell. Stone find his body is covered in 133 tattoos, each representing one of the escaped souls. Every time he returns one to hell, a tattoo disappears from his body.
In order to send the souls back to hell he has to pierce both of their eyes, which he usually accomplishes by shooting them out. Consequently as a soul Hell himself, Stone can’t truly be hurt or killed either, except by the same method. Along the way the Devil sometimes aids, sometimes hinders Stone’s mission, toying with him constantly. Glover, who would later go on to play the villainous Lionel Luther in Smallville, played the Devil with supreme gusto, appearing at will to torment stone. You kind of wonder whether or not he wanted Stone to be successful or not.
Brimstone had a unique look with a color palette that was washed out, giving everything a worn and dingy look. Horton’s portrayal was low key but it perfectly fit the often somber tone of the show. Brimstone is definitely a show that deserved a better and the only one of the four in our article that thus far has not been released on DVD.
No. Of Episodes: 11
Cast: Matthew Fox, Russell Hornsby
Before Matthew Fox got “Lost” on ABC, he had this far too short run in the UPN horror series “Haunted”. Fox is Frank Taylor, a former cop who left the force to become a detective after the unsolved abduction of his young son. Taylor tracks down a man named Simon Dunn who he believes had something to do with his son’s kidnapping. Their fatal encounter leaves Simon dead and Frank in critical condition. Frank has a near-death experience in which he sees his missing son. When Frank regains consciousness, he finds that he can see spirits and the dead can communicate with him.
Some of the dead aid Frank in solving crimes, but others, such as the ghost of Simon Dunn, tries to mislead and even harm him. Frank is sometimes aided by his former partner on the police force Marcus Bradshaw played by Russell Hornsby who these days is playing another cop on other genre series, “Grimm”.
Perhaps the weakness that led to Haunted’s quick demise is that sometimes the show would embrace its horror roots and truly be an effective chiller and other times it would be a standard police procedural making for a show that could be wildly inconsistent.
Tim Janson is a columnist and reviewer for Mania Entertainment. He writes Level Up, the weekly look at videogames and the horror dedicated column, Tuesday Terrors. Tim has written for Fangoria, Newsarama, City Slab Magazine, Twitch Film, and Cinefantastique. He is a member of the Horror Writers Association (HWA). Be sure to follow him on Facebook and Twitter.