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Showtime Original Poltergeist: The Legacy

The underground group, whose org supposedly reaches back to the second century B.C., now includes five recurring characters out to solve psychic misdemeanors, a "Mission: Improbable" in which special effects, atmosphere and fog machines weigh in heavily. Showtime's committed to 43 one-hour episodes, preeming April 26, with emphasis on the supernatural; the word "poltergeist" has been broadly defined. Developed by those who delivered the contemporary "Outer Limits," new scare series will delight the susceptible.

The underground group, whose org supposedly reaches back to the second century B.C., now includes five recurring characters out to solve psychic misdemeanors, a “Mission: Improbable” in which special effects, atmosphere and fog machines weigh in heavily. Showtime’s committed to 43 one-hour episodes, preeming April 26, with emphasis on the supernatural; the word “poltergeist” has been broadly defined. Developed by those who delivered the contemporary “Outer Limits,” new scare series will delight the susceptible.

Derek Rayne (Derek de Lint), who runs the Legacy from his magnificent castle on San Francisco Bay’s Angel Island (which might startle picnickers), is out and about with team members to dig up evidence of foul doings from outer limitlessness. One of the teammates is found crucified, but there are no fill-ins in this struggle against wickedness.

First case involves Rayne’s father, from whom Derek inherited his job, and who discovered one of five wooden chests dating back to Scriptures days and died probing it. If the chests are assembled in one place and lined up in a certain order, they’ll welcome wicked spirits into the world.

The Legacy will have none of that, though judging by this demo of their prowess, the battle against evil could be a tossup. Others in the group are reportedly brilliant researcher Alexandra (Robbi Chong), short-tempered former Navy SEAL Nick (Martin Cummins), socially prominent Julia (Jordan Bayne) and an unpriestly Catholic priest, Philip (Patrick Fitzgerald).

In Ireland, psychiatrist Rachel (Helen Shaver), whose daughter, Katherine (Alexandra Purvis), can be a handful, is seduced by a possessed antique dealer (William Sadler) after the dealer opens that deadly box. The red-eyed monster let loose from one of the chests frequently turns up during the course of telefilm, zipping out of the various chests wherever they turn up. De Lint’s Derek is acceptable, if not commanding, and Shaver is sharp as the incoming group member. Chong’s strong and serene, Cummins is OK, while Fitzgerald is stuck with an indefinite role as the fallen spiritual leader.

Director Stuart Gillard seems to thrive on extremes, even if not everything in Brad Wright’s script or Richard B. Lewis’ story makes sense. Production design elements — the glowing vermilion eyes, negative reversals, whirling objects and lightning — are commendable. John Van Tongeren’s rich score pounds home the points.

Production designer Ian Thomas’ location sites turn Beacon Hill Park, Victoria, into a persuasive Irish village. Derek’s sumptuous home is actually Hatley Castle, a Canadian military base. Thomas’ unerring eye and Manfred Guthe’s imaginative lensing create a polished atmosphere; Michael Robison’s dynamic editing gives the production its sense of urgency.

Effect over content sets the tone. Hourlong episodes should pull good audiences. The devil’s a good draw.

Showtime Original Poltergeist: The Legacy

  • Production: Showtime Original Poltergeist: The Legacy (Sun. (21), 8-10 p.m., Showtime) Filmed in Victoria, B.C., and at Bridge Studio, Vancouver, by Trilogy Entertainment North and Public Motion Pictures Prods. Executive producers, Richard B. Lewis, Pen Densham, John K. Watson; producer, N. John Smith; director , Stuart Gillard; writer, Brad Wright; creator, Lewis.
  • Crew: Camera, Manfred Guthe; editor, Michael Robison; production designer, Ian Thomas; art director, Douglasann Menchions; special effects, Randy Stymkiw; sound, Lars Ekstrom; music , John Van Tongeren; theme, Van Tongeren, Mark Mancina; casting, Mary Jo Slater, Steve Brooksbank (L.A.); Carol Kelsay (Vancouver). 2 hours.
  • With: Cast: Derek de Lint, Helen Shaver, Robbi Chong, Martin Cummins, Patrick Fitzgerald, Jordan Bayne, Alexandra Purvis, William Sadler, Morgan Shepherd, Chad Krowchuk, Daniel Pilon, Jose Vargas, Marites Pineda, Ingrid Torrance, Sandrine Holt, John Novak, Myles Ferguson, Dave Fredericks. Using a nothing-ventured, nothing-gained approach, the creating team of new weekly spooksville series has pumped all sorts of excesses into its two-hour pilot, which intros the premise of a Frisco bunch known as the Legacy. As they say about haunting, a little goes a long way.
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