It’s 7:20 pm
The sun is trying to pop out for a minute,we are expecting yet another round of snow of up to a inch. Old Man Winter definitely has his teeth in us this year. The cheetah is waaay over it now and he wants his windows open so he can chirp and chuff at the robins and rabbits. He doesn’t seem to understand that its still in the 30s and I’m waiting til we hit the upper 40s before the windows go up.
The cheetah and I have been watching a lot of movies as of late and we were tossing the idea of watching a TV series but were clueless on what to watch. It’s weird but that is when our deep cover contact at Warner Brothers Archive sent us a note and a name: Robert Urich. Those of you who have enjoyed our reviews here also know the cheetah and I are huge Urich fans. We have reviewed his very much known and beloved “Spenser: For Hire” series from the 1980s.
We thought out contact was sending us some info on Robert’s roles on “The Love Boat” re-boot that ran for 25 episodes or maybe even “Emeril” which only aired 10 episodes before being cancelled. I had watched the Love Boat show but never seen a single episode of “Emeril”.
So when he said “Ever checked out “The Lazarus Man””,I can honestly say I hadn’t heard or seen this series. Our contact sent back a note saying “Paladin and you need to see this.” Well that was enough for us……
The Lazarus Man was an original series made for Turner Network Television (TNT) premiered on 20 January 96 and ended 9 November 96.
The premise had Urich’s character being found barely alive and having no memories of not only himself but also of anything else other then he was fought in the Civil War. Because he was left for dead but came back alive and not knowing his name,he calls himself Lazarus after the man in the Bible.
The one thing you noticed right away from “The Lazarus Man” being a cable show opposed to a regular network show was the graphic content. In the first episode “Awakening” after Lazarus is found covered in filth,mud and blood,he has his wounds debrided and it isn’t a pretty or a gentle site. Urich’s reaction to this isn’t your normal typical Hollywood “slap a band aid on me and give me a slug of rotgut whiskey”. Instead,his character screams out with the pain as he has been sliced to ribbons. It felt and looked completely realistic and you couldn’t show that on network TV back then.
The two part “Awakening” established Lazarus as a man who is on a quest to find his memories,life,family and also the persons who did this to him.
Every episode had Lazarus do a narrative as he was keeping a journal chronicling his adventures,including meeting a few people who may or may not have known him.
The arc of “The Lazarus Man” had Lazarus looking for his past but of course being this a quest show,had him dropping into countless little towns and helping right overcome wrongs on many levels.
Since the series was set in the days and months after the Civil War,the feelings of hatred and loss was a common theme with men from both sides whom Lazarus either went against or befriended. Actual historical figures were limited with only General George Custer being featured in “The Boy General”. Maxwell Caulfield portrayed Custer as a young hothead and impulsive officer whose men hated him enough to attempt to take his life. Lazarus saves Custer’s life twice and Custer wants him to find the ringleader of those who are trying to kill him. It is this episode that Lazarus finds out his name,James Cathcart,from a man named Johnson. Johnson agrees to help James fill in his memories but a tragic and cruel twist of fate denies Lazarus his chance.
While there wasn’t really big name as “guest stars”,”The Lazarus Man” did feature some great turns from the stars it did attract including Elizabeth Dennehy,Max Gail,Mariska Hargitay,Stephen McHattie,Robert Knepper and Tobin Bell.
Our favorite episode was the sad and haunting yet hopeful “Among the Dead” in which Lazarus tries to keep a promise to a man he just met as they were riding in the same direction. When they are ambushed by gang led by Tobin Bell,Lazarus is wounded and his new friend is fatally shot but begs Lazarus to deliver his cargo,a gold cup he just inherited and was taking home to his wife. Lazarus agrees and manages to ride into town before he passes out. He wakes up to find the woman who mended him but the town is hiding a terrible secret. And when the gang hires a feared gunslinger (Robert Foxworth) to help them recover that treasure,life is about to get a whole lot harder for Lazarus.
The first season ended with James (or Jamie) finding his wife and finding out he has a son but because he doesn’t know who his enemies are yet,he and his wife will have to keep on moving from place to place looking for the solution to his past.
“The Lazarus Man” did well enough on TNT that it was granted a second season through Castle Rock Productions. It was then that Urich’s cancer become public news and led Castle Rock to cancel the series despite the fact that Urich had filmed the first season with no issues and that he could continue even as he was undergoing treatment. Urich ended up suing for breach of contract. By cancelling the show,Castle Rock denied Urich his second season salary which would have helped him and his family greatly.
And since the show was centered completely around his Lazarus character,Castle Rock along with the shows creators,just couldn’t continue or film around any appearances because there was no supporting cast.
Despite the well worn “quest” plot,The Lazarus Man was a very well written character based show. Beautifully filmed in Santa Fe,New Mexico,it captures the feel of the post-war era perfectly. The scripts were strong and I feel the lack of big name guest stars really helped the show move forward,at the end of each episode you felt like Lazarus was just that much closer to the truth but not so much as to ruin the suspense and the thrill of the hunt.
In this Warner Brothers Archive release,all 22 episodes are included including two that were never aired on TNT. Sadly,there are no special features and quite honestly,this is one part of the Archives I wish would change. I think its great that we are seeing shows like this being re-issued and while Robert Urich can’t do any commentaries,I don’t know why WB can’t get 2-3 other guest stars to share their recollection of the show. I just feel it would be a nice touch and add some feeling into watching the show.
The cheetah and I both highly recommend “The Lazarus Man” and we give it two thumbs/4 paws straight up.
You can buy the complete series at the Warner Brother Archives website.
Did you ever watch “The Lazarus Man” and if so,what did you think of the show?
Drop us a comment below!