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Immortalizing HIGHLANDER: THE SERIES -- Part One

HIGHLANDER: THE SERIES star Adrian Paul and producer Peter Davis talk about the new DVD sets

By Abbie Bernstein     December 26, 2003


Five years after it ceased production, HIGHLANDER: THE SERIES remains like its Immortal characters something that will not die. Davis-Panzer Productions released full seasons of the six-year run Highlander in videotape years before this was the norm, through their direct-marketing official Highlander Store. In 2001, DPP's store brought forth an eight-disc boxed set of HIGHLANDER Season One on DVD, with extras including a brief interview with producer Bill Panzer for each episode, and featuring breathtakingly beautiful video transfers. Then Anchor Bay got involved and, for the first time, boxed sets of HIGHLANDER episodes became available in retail outlets.


DPP partner Peter Davis explains how that DPP/Anchor Bay association originally came about when Anchor Bay brought out a deluxe edition of the original 1986 HIGHLANDER feature film. "They came to us [DPP] and wanted to include us in the process relating to supplemental materials." DPP was happy with the results, which led to discussions in spring of 2002 about Anchor Bay releasing boxed seasons of HIGHLANDER: THE SERIES, bringing it into the retail market for the first time. With Anchor Bay behind it, Davis notes, "[HIGHLANDER] will be, if not the big gorilla in the cage, at least a gorilla in the cage." DPP will continue to offer its own boxed sets through direct marketing via the HIGHLANDER Store, with different packaging and bonus items like T-shirts.


Anchor Bay's Season [IMG3R]One is a nine-disc edition that features a blooper reel and interviews with Panzer, but with Season Two's eight-disc set, the supplemental material is substantially expanded, including introductions for each episode by producer Panzer and/or showrunner David Abramowitz and collections of alternate and unused takes (with uncredited commentary by HIGHLANDER staffer Gillian Horvath). Adrian Paul, who starred as the Immortal Duncan MacLeod, provides audio commentary on two episodes; viewers also have the option of watching Paul recording the commentary intercut with episode footage.


Paul, who is participating extensively in the supplemental materials for Seasons Two-Six, half-jokingly says he got involved because, "They made me an offer I couldn't refuse." He was given a choice in how to participate: "Don Paonessa [HIGHLANDER's post-production supervisor, who directed the supplemental interviews] said, 'You want to just pick a couple of episodes you want to talk about, or do you want us to give you questions?' I said, 'Give me questions, because questions are always fun,' because what ends up happening is, it refreshes my memory on something else that happened, and it goes into an entirely different direction. I like to just be free about it."


"We're very happy at this point for Adrian's participation," Davis says. Paul isn't the only participant in upcoming seasons, the producer adds: "We are spending the next three weeks shooting in Vancouver and shooting down here, doing a whole array of talent, both in front of and behind the screen."


Where does Paul think

HIGHLANDER line producer Ken Gord

Season Two fits into the HIGHLANDER universe? "Season Two was a real changer for the series and for me, because looking back at [Season] One, it was really kind of trying to decide exactly what it was that we wanted to achieve. In [Season] Two, Ken Gord came on as the [line] producer, and he said, 'You know, we've got to lighten [Duncan] up a little.' So we tried to make him not quite as serious, that was one of the things I tried to do. Actually, I think the show started hitting its stride in the twelfth or thirteenth episode, 'Band of Brothers,' in Season One. And then when we got to the end of Season One, and took a breather and went," he exhales for emphasis, " 'Okay, what worked?' and said, 'This is what we're going to do in Season Two,' and we were off to the races after that. I remember Season Two, how we felt about going between Vancouver and Paris. Every time we went to Paris, the show seemed to have much more quality and depth. The reason for that was we were shooting on-site and not on sets. We were using sets in Vancouver and we were on locations in Paris. So by the time we got to Season Three, the people [in Vancouver] were like, 'Well, we've got to build better sets, because we're competing with the those people in Paris.' And then the show got better again. So it was interesting how it had an effect throughout production. That went from costumes to building sets to telling stories that were able to be shot in the confines of the space we were shooting in. I think the story got better, the ideas the whole way that the show was presented was better in Season Two."


There's another aspect of the HIGHLANDER Season Two Anchor Bay DVD release that one purchaser will find extremely fulfilling, Davis adds: "They have a chance to win a '64 fabulous T-Bird. There were two T-Birds that were used on the show. This is the second one, but this one has had $40,000 of money spent to bring it to its current condition, and it looks fabulous. And it drives fabulous."


The sweepstakes [IMG4R]are set to run through the end of December. However, those who don't win a car with their DVDs will still get their money's worth, Davis feels. "I don't think there's any product worldwide in the marketplace that can hold a candle to our packaging. We certainly believe in full supplementals, and as we go into Seasons Three, Four, Five, etcetera, they get better as we're going along."


Paul believes this is true of the actual episodes as well: "What intrigued me the most was the fact that I think the series got better as time went on. It's usually the other way around. Most of the time, by the time you get to Season Three on a series, stuff becomes repetitive and it becomes mundane for people to do, and I've worked on other shows where I've seen that. It happened with the actors, especially 'Okay, it's another paycheck.' Not on HIGHLANDER. At all. It was always creative and trying to do something interesting. I'd say at least seven times out of ten, I was really excited about trying something different on an episode. I don't think there's ever been another show that I've done or that's out there that you can really say that about."

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