Television had its moments. From the early to late 1990s series were offered to a hopefully receptive audience, presenting elements of thought-provoking and innovative fare that would make one think about not only their position in life, but also things that might possibly lie just beneath the surface of our daily existence. And…it would also have to be a fun romp to keep the viewer’s interest. Some ignited an audience core…some did not. Brimstone was one of those that did not find an audience. It had a good story to tell!
In the fall of 1998 the FOX Network brought on board a unique and supernatural offering, Brimstone, that in retrospect might just have been over most viewer’s heads: or at the very least, beyond their comfort level for a weekly viewing venue; or not ready or willing to view any type of religious beliefs concerning Heaven or Hell, God or the Devil, or man’s place in a world with serious overtones just behind the veil? Brimstone only aired for 13 episodes before it was cancelled into silent oblivion. What becomes the “weird” factor is that, 17 years later and so many FOX series that have come and gone throughout the intervening years, there continues to be a fan base for Brimstone. They want some resolution!
Brimstone was truly a gem…an intelligent, thoughtful, and well acted ensemble that showcased not only the supernatural element, but also one man’s journey with issues of faith, forgiveness and ultimately repentance. Peter Horton (an actor of the 1980s Thirtysomething series) portrayed Ezekiel Stone, a NYPD police detective who kills the man who raped his wife Rosalyn. Stone himself is killed two months later in the line of duty and goes to Hell, spending 15 years before circumstances dictate a return to duty so to speak. It would seem that 113 spirits have escaped from Hades to return to earth. The Devil commissions Stone to return these souls back to Hell. Stone must pierce the eyes (the windows of the soul) of each for that to happen. If he accomplishes this task, Stone will earn a second chance at life on earth. The Devil promises this with a slight smile upon his lips. However, Stone can be re-killed again, and if that happens all bets are off. Peter Horton conveyed the character of Stone as a soft-spoken hero, yet with a darker angst that bubbled just beneath the surface. At the end of the series run Stone had just began observing his wife Rosalyn in Los Angeles from afar. So much promise! This in itself became a tearjerker!
Actor John Glover (later Lex Luther’s father Lionel in the television series Smallville) played a wise-cracking, wicked, often humorous, and equally often sympathetic Devil, that in many ways made both Stone and himself an unlikely partner in crime. The Devil was dependant upon Stone to complete his task, while Stone was dependent upon the Devil to keep his promise. There seemed to be trust issues.
For those that escaped Hell, there was no remorse or repentance for the crimes that had sent them there in the first place. It seemed to be the same for Ezekiel Stone.
The show had a strong visual presence, witty dialogue and innovative musical score (Annie Lennox’s Why and the Ben Swift Band’s bittersweet Walking Away for example). The Fox Network, however, never gave it a fair shake and disrupted the continuity by airing episodes out of order. The time slots were lousy and changed frequently. No one could keep up! The series premièred on October 23, 1998 and was cancelled in February of 1999, in the midst of filming its 14th episode. Guides for what would have been episodes 14 thru 19 are available on the internet and show a clear direction that the show was heading towards. The SyFy Channel occasionally reruns the series, but they are random.
Is there talk of a revision of the series or a movie? Unfortunately there is none. It is a dead horse. Unless you have previous recordings on VHS tapes, you will have to rely on network airings. Warner Home Video, as of 2008, stated their status on the prospect of a DVD release—“Despite the wonderful work of Peter Horton and John Glover, there are no plans at this time to release Brimstone.”
That is a shame….