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Genre: TV series, Drama, Science Fiction, Adventure
Starring: Colette Stevenson, Alan Scarfe, John Bach, C. David Johnson, Stephen Lovatt, Gordon Michael Woolvett, Andy Marshall
Run time: 22 episodes (1 hour each, 1 season)
DVD distributor: Alliance Films
Colette Stevenson provides Mysterious Island with its eye candy, but her hotness is seriously offset by the fact that her character on the show, Joanna, spends the whole show with her husband Jack. Jack is played by that guy who was Chuck Tchobanian on Street Legal (C. David Johnson), and there you have maybe the only two stars on the show who are even vaguely recognizable to the average Canadian viewer.
The other actors did some stuff too. Gordon Michael Woolvett was in Andromeda, Stephen Lovatt made a few appearances on Hercules and Xena, and Alan Scarfe guest-starred on a couple of episodes of Star Trek. Andy Marshall was recently in four episodes of Soul, whatever that is, and John Bach was a bit actor in two of the Lord of the Rings movies. Anyone remember who Madril was? Not me.
At any rate, recognizable or not, these are B-grade actors at best, in a C-grade series that makes little sense. I have never read the Jules Verne book (Mysterious Island) upon which this series is based. But having watched many of the 22 episodes on the Complete Series DVD, out June 14th from Alliance Films, I can only assume it’s a dreadful book. Or, which is more likely, the TV series has almost nothing in common with the book.
The series opens with a married couple and their kid, an old army captain and his former slave, and a foreign reporter being captured during the U.S. Civil War. They are scheduled to be executed but escape via hot air balloon. Then the balloon is shot down over the ocean by a creepy loner mad scientist living on a deserted island so he can experiment on the castaways.
And so begins the series. The castaways never get to see Captain Nemo (until the very end), but they quickly realize something is amiss on this island. Something is also, of course, amiss in the what-year-is-it-here test – the U.S. Civil War is in full swing. I know, because I recently watched Ken Burns’ masterful Civil War documentary, that this places the show between the years of 1861-1865. Captain Nemo, the mysterious weirdo on an island, has closed-circuit television cameras set up everywhere, remarkably powerful submarines, and several other gizmos that seem to me to be out of the realm of the technology available in the 1860s.
The biggest problem with the series though, is that 90% of it feels like padding. sure, there’s a tiny bit of plot development from episode to episode, but so little I kept forgetting it was going anywhere. When you have some unseen diabolical madman unleashing earthquakes and landslides toward these people, is there any need to have them get into extra trouble on their own?
For example – a landslide, triggered by an earthquake, triggered by Captain Nemo, traps the Australian reporter under a giant boulder. The captain and the ex-slave run off in one direction to find something helpful, but get poisoned by some gas in the ground and must help each other back, heroically. Then the ex-slave and the young boy run off in another direction to get some other help, and the kid gets his foot caught in rocks in a puddle as the tide is coming in. Which leads to more help and more heroics.
And that ends up being the whole some. One character gets trapped somewhere, somehow, under something. Then the others put their collective minds together in order to help that one character out of the dilemma. And…then…it ends, as Captain Nemo shows himself, explains his diabolical (if a little nonsensical) plan, and then he leaves. The end. Mysterious Island ran only one season, in 1995, and then it was done. Mercifully.