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Shows That Never Made it Past Season Two: #6 Highlander: The Raven
She Is A Creature Of Legend...Like some Bird of Some Sort...I don't know Which
- Nate's DVD Collection ~ Highlander: The Raven
In the later half of the 90's, shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and La Femme Nikita were becoming money in the bank as strong female leads were being demanded. Adrian Paul, of Highlander wanted to...
A Cultural Theme of the 90's
The 90's in North America saw two major themes beginning to take root. The first theme was the phenomenon of spin-offs. Star Treks Deep Space Nine and Voyager came out in the 90's. Law and Order and CSI were experimenting with how many different times you could fit the show title onto a screen. (I did the same thing with my first name once, replacing my last name with different adjectives, verbs and nouns. It was fun until the teacher sent me to the principal)
The second theme was strong female characters leading. We had Captain Janeway searching the Delta Quadrant for the Coffee Nebula. Buffy Summers fought vampires as well as acne and bad fashion sense. And Amanda Deriux was suddenly a much better sword fighter as it would have made little sense to have Adrian Paul running in to save her platinum blonde head every other episode.
But Nate! You love the Raven! Why give it such a low place in your top seven list?
Well, for one, I was born on the sixth of December. The Sixth of December is also known as St. Nicholas day in some cultures. St. Nicholas is the patron saint of thieves and Amanda, the star of The Raven, is a thief. So it's symbolic on many levels and I actually have two other shows in mind for the strong female lead theme. So I want to space them out.
"Et dis-leur qu'ils puissent m'embrasser sur le cul avant de partir."
Premise: Amanda, on and off again lover of Duncan Macleod, takes the spotlight in her Chicago based apartment. There, her antics bring her under the scrutiny of Detective Nick Wolfe, who later discovers the truth of Amanda's immortality.
Together Amanda and Nick argue, fight bad guys, argue some more, occasionally have a touching and/or endearing moment, argue again, and eventually-*Spoiler Alert*-they follow the formula of the original series by going to Paris.
Reprising her role as Amanda Deriux, the thousand year old thief who stole the heart of the Highlander (and a few other things) is Elizabeth Gracen.
Paul Johannsen, who was in the popular One Tree Hill, starred as Nick Wolfe. The detective with a heart of gold (and buns of steel) who believes that justice is blind.
The role of Chicago is rather poorly played by Toronto. Formerly the star of Forever Knight, Toronto was later offered the part of "A City where Vampires Live" in Blood Ties. But Vancover took the role instead as Toronto didn't wish to be typecast.
I bet that One Tree is a Sequoia if you Know what I mean...no, I mean it's big, not that it's old and...oh never mind.
Why Was it Canceled?
Ask any two people and you'll get two different answers.
Some will say that it was the off screen chemistry of stars Paul Johannson and Elizabeth Gracen. The chemistry, of course, being similar to the effect of pooring lye onto your skin and trying to lick it off.
Gracen had a lot of pressure following her. There was the affair with former governer of Arkansas Bill Clinton. The presence of her psychotic boyfriend running interference for her.
Add that to the sudden demand of physical activity that comes with swinging swords, doing backflips, and asking the Kraft service guy to stop staring at your hair. It can make people a little edgy and unfortunately, Gracen was someone who couldn't just leave her personal life at home.
There must be a law in Toronto that says police detectives need eccentrically decorarted warehouse apartments.
Another big factor was the creative restrictions placed on them by the French and Canadian film boards. The title of the series was originally supposed to be "The Raven and The Wolf". This wasn't merely a play on Nick Wolfe's name, but a reference to an Inuit legend about the Raven which the opening narration ties in with the Wolf. It also gave Johansson's character more even footing as a main character.
Enter the French, who didn't like "Wolf" in the title for some reason. And since Davis and Panzer still wanted to film part of the series in Paris, they had to bend over backwards to please them. And so the title was shortened to The Raven.
A lot of fans and some of the people working with the series felt that the title took away from the overall theme of the show. And as much of the series focued on Nick's detective work, the show petered out as little more than a buddy cop show.
If Amanda had shot him in the foot it would have been more iconic of what went on behind the scenes.
Season One ended with a bang. Literally. Amanda shoots Nick and we learn that Nick had the power to become Immortal all along if he had only clicked his heels together and said, "Dear god, just shoot me."
Originally Paul didn't want his character becoming Immortal. He felt that Nick's advantage of watching the Immortal world through the eyes of a mortal held a lot more story potential than just having another sword wielding character lopping off heads. Basically, he wanted Nick to continue being Duncan-Lite and not Amanda's Richie Ryan.
But in spite of all of that, when he learned that Nick was Immortal, he was geared up and ready to go on to the next season. Whatever drama was taking place off screen, Paul and Elizabeth were managing to work out their differences and you can even see it in the Bloopers Reel of the DVD. They were professionals all the way.
Alas, part of what killed this show was a very poor attitude on behalf of many of the major hands in the show. Namely the show's brain and heart, Davis and Panzer. Add that to the massive creative restrictions and basically Dead On Arrival, the title of the last episode, became more of an epitaph.
I'm on the fence with whether or not it was a justified cancellation. On the one hand, The Raven was a learning experience for everyone involved. I'm glad the actors have gone on to bigger and better things, but I also feel like The Raven would have grown out of the mistakes of the first series and stood tall on it's own.
And on the other hand, I just don't see where a Highlander Spin off can sputter and die in one year, but we get nearly ten solid years of rape stories from Law and Order: SVU.