Its 6:29 am
snowy and cold
In the wake of watching our Family Video stores close and as of this entry,the library bookstore being closed as well,trying to find new film hunting grounds is getting a bit difficult. While I have very pleased with the local Salvation Army store and of course the always entertaining Dollar Tree sales,a collector can’t live off those places forever.
Which is why I was so happy when several people in the film community suggested I visit Hamilton Books. Now Hamilton Books is not in Michigan but has a online website that sells deeply discounted books and films. I have picked up several brand new titles there for 5.00 and under. This is how I found “Haunted”,besides films,Hamilton also sells TV series and seasons for incredible prices.
I had watched one episode of “Haunted” years ago and thought it was pretty interesting. When I looked it up on Wikipedia,I was surprised that this show only lasted 11 episodes when it debuted 24 Sept 2002 and only lasted until 5 Nov 2002 when the UPN cancelled it. Back in 2002,both UPN and the CW networks were struggling to stay afloat as the 5th and 6th major networks. The UPN started in 1995 and for the most part,struggled to find any sort of hit show and it never really did. The only UPN developed show that made noise was “Enterprise” and that noise wasn’t particularly positive.
Because the pressure to develop a hit show was so high,many good shows never got a chance to find a audience before they were hooked,some shows only aired as few as TWO shows before getting the hook. “Haunted” got to air 7 of its 11 episodes before leaving the air. And take in mind that was at least 10-13 years before Netflix and the wave of streaming hit.
Now as I have mentioned before,it was very,very rare that a cancelled series like “Haunted” would not only be aired again in syndication but even less likely to get a home release because the show only last 11 episodes. But something wonderful has been happening and that is shows liked “Haunted” are being snatched up and being given a second chance to be seen.
In “Haunted”‘s case,it doesn’t hurt that the show featured a very strong cast led by a young dynamic and pre-Lost Matthew Fox. Phase 4 Films,which generally only works with indie films,is the company that released “Haunted”in 2010. Phase 4 was taken over by another Canadian film company eOne Entertainment in 2014 and ceased business in 2016. Kino Lorber then aquired the rights to “Haunted” and gave it a BluRay release in 2018.
So what is “Haunted” about…..?
Frank Taylor had it all,he was a fine cop with a bright future and a loving family including a newborn son. When Frank’s son is kidnapped and never found,his life fell apart under the duress,he loses his wife and his career as a police detective is also ruined,he resigns from the force and becomes a private investigator. While Frank’s ex-wife Jessica(Lynn Collins) believes their son is gone forever,Frank still believes otherwise and is relentlessy pursuing the case.
When Frank gets a solid lead on a potential suspect,one Simon Dunn (John Mann),who may be involved with kidnapping babies,Frank tries to detain him but a violent encounter leaves Dean dead and Frank Taylor near death. The doctors are trying to save Frank when he has a vision in which he sees his son still alive.
Frank then finds out that he has a new “gift”,he can comunicate and see the dead and they can do the same with him.
Among the dead that can talk with Frank is none other then the man Frank killed,Simon Dunn himself. Now Frank must learn to cope and develop his ability before it drives him crazy……his former partner Marcus Bradshaw (Russell Hornsby) and his ex-wife are starting to notice that Frank is acting very strangely…
What a great premise,right?? “Haunted” came out 3 years BEFORE “The Ghost Whisperer” and three years after “The Sixth Sense”. People were still abuzz about that movie so why not do a supernatural twist of someone who can talk with the dead and help them? Plus add in a missing child and a ghostly archvillain and “Haunted” should have taken off….
And check out this cast……Matthew Fox,Russell Hornsby (who would end up in another supernatural series in “Grimm”) and Lynn Collins who starred in “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” and an IFC Film that we reviewed called “Life In Flight“.
Add in John Mann as Simon Dunn and this show should have taken off and as I started my watch,I was really curious as to why it didn’t. Other then poor promotion or a terrible time slot,why didn’t “Haunted” take off?
First off,I liked “Haunted” very much. I liked all 4 leads and think they had terrific chemistry. The stories were well written and they established the premise well. They didn’t do what a lot of sci-fi/supernatural shows do and that is a “creature of the week” type of story which was refreshing. While it looked at first that the characters of Marcus and Jessica were going to be as people for Frank to get favors from,the writers were quick to involve both characters in the action and the mystery of Frank’s condition. While each story didn’t feature Simon as the prime moving force behind every case Frank took on,his character was still seen in just about every episode. I wouldn’t want Simon as the heavy for the whole series,a new bad guy/gal each season would have been better but for this season,Simon was the ideal choice to give Frank hell.
My two favorite episodes were “Grievous Angels” which has Frank looking for a missing girl in which he gets some unexpected help and “Three Hour Tour” in which Frank,after seeing Jessica getting close to a lawyer at job,takes a drive to clear his head and when a woman suddenly pops up on the road,crashes his car. He finds a home nearby but he also finds a mystery that he has to solve before a little girl is lost.
Like all older series like “Haunted”,one of the fun things to look for are actors who are just cutting their teeth as guest stars and “Haunted”had its fair share and it also had its fair share of veteran favorites as well……Michael Ecklund,Zachary Quinto,Robert Knepper,Pauley Perrette,future Oscar winner Mahershala Ali and even featured Billie Joe Armstrong from the band Green Day in a guest spot.
But I had my issues as well with “Haunted” and the foremost was each episode always seemed to take place at night. The subject matter was already dark but holy crow,almost every episode was filmed at night and the action was poorly lit and hard to follow. Maybe the writers figured that since ghosts are connected to the night,so should almost every episode . It made the show hard to follow,especially if they threw some rain (which they did) into the mix.
My second negative was the overpowering of Simon,he was too strong for what he was….he was able to smack around Frank,enter other people’s bodies and manifest himself into a physical form. The plot had Simon hitching a ride back with Frank when he had his vision in the ER but the show never explained WHY Simon became so strong. I think it would have been more intresting to see both men on a even playing field,maybe Simon can do extraordinary things but he has to pay a price for it,like losing part of his ghostly energy but to have him become almost a superbeing really bothered me.
And lastly but on a lighter note….almost every episode had Frank crashing his car!! Be it by a ghost or a high speed chase,Frank was always losing a car. And being that Frank wasn’t rich…..one wonders how he was able to afford so many cars!!
In doing this review,I found out that John Mann,who played Simon Dunn,was a gifted singer-songwriter as well as an actor.
He played in the popular Canadian band “Spirit Of the West“. In 2009,John found out he had colorectal cancer of which he was treated for and it went into remission. Sadly in 2014,he learned he had early Alzheimer’s disease. John continued his career the best he could as many friends and fans rallied around him during his illness. Despite trying everything including stem cell treatments in Mexico,John passed away in 2019.
You can find “Haunted” at the Kino Lorber website and secondary markets like Hamilton Books (depending on how much they have in stock),Amazon and eBay.
The series consists of 11 episodes and the DVD version I have contained no special features,the Kino Lorber may carry some. The cheetah and I gave “Haunted” a thumbs/paw straight up……