no way can this mid-1990s TV series inspired by the Highlander
movies be described as good television.
Some episodes literally
creak and fall apart at the seams under the weight of bad plotting, awkward
acting, cheap sets and costumes, not to mention mediocre directing and
overambitious special effects.
In one episode a youth somehow magically
manages to climb unnoticed into someone who he is stalking's car boot while
that person is also busy getting into the car. You try doing that one day,
and see what happens! Some scenes are so badly directed that the actors seem
unsure what to do with their hands.
Episodes are formulaic as
only television can get. Five or seven minutes before the end you know our
hero will get into a swordfight and decapitate an opponent pretty much in
the same way that the A-Team got "a plan" and started building all
kinds of contraptions, MacGyver escaped an impossible situation and
Magnum PI's girlfriend for that episode got killed so that the
continuity can be preserved and he can be a single bachelor again for next
To recap: actor Adrian Paul
plays Duncan MacLeod, one of a secret race of "Immortals" who lives amongst
us ordinary mortals. (Paul plays a relation to the character played by
Christopher Lambert in the big screen movies and isn't supposed to be him.)
See Macleod was born 400 years ago and still looks like he's in his
mid-thirties, an anti-ageing trick that not that eternal teenager Michael J.
Fox managed to pull off.
Calling them "Immortals" is
a misnomer though: they can be killed by lobbing off their heads. I suppose
smashing their atoms to bits in a nuclear explosion ought to do the trick as
well. Actually the "Immortals spend a lot of time killing off each other
because as anyone who has seen the original 1985
Highlander movie will know "there can be only one."
THE DISCS: Image
quality is often mediocre due to either grainy source footage or poor
compression artefacting. But can a mid-1990s TV show already look this poor?
We've seen movies that are a half-century old which boasts better sound and
image quality on DVD.
WORTH IT? It is
unclear who exactly this six-disc set is aimed at. One would like to say
that it is aimed at newbies such as myself to the show, but no attempt at
any coherent, single narrative is made in the selection and order of the
episodes. The first disc kicks off with a two-parter storyline from the
show's fifth season in which one character is featured prominently. A later
episode found on the third disc also from that season introduces that
character for the first time. There is no logic to the order in which the
episodes are presented at all. One can only assume that Highlander: Best
of the Best is aimed at nostalgic fans who are unwilling or unable to
fork out the $170 or so dollars for all six seasons on DVD.
weird thing about Highlander: The Series though is is that no matter
how bad the episodes get, it all remains hypnotically and inexplicably
compulsive viewing in the way that only time-wasting television can be.
Maybe it is because of Arian Paul's lazy charm, or perhaps the fact that
despite the consistent flashback narrative structure that there are always
new characters and locales with each episode. Or perhaps it is because deep
down we all yearn that our lives be as predictable as the TV shows we watch.
Whatever the reason, it is
clear why Highlander: The Series lasted a whopping six seasons from
1992 to 1998 (loads of Immortal opponents popping out of the woodwork for
Duncan Macleod to behead each episode!): once I started watching one episode
on this collection I couldn't stop myself. Highlander: The Series is
like Pringles chips - you know it's bad for you, but once you pop you can't
stop as the advertising slogan goes . . .
NOTE: In a recent
interview Russell Mulcahy admitted that he had no idea at the time that the
Highlander character would become so popular. Check it out:
1. Highlander - 1986
2. Highlander 2: The Quickening aka
Highlander 2: Renegade Version - 1991
3. Highlander 3: The Sorcerer aka
Highlander 3: The Final Dimension - 1994
4. Highlander: Endgame - 2000
5. Highlander: The Source - 2007
1. Highlander The Series
2. Highlander The Raven - 1998
1. Highlander: The
Animated Series - 1994-1996
2. The Methos Chronicles - 2001 (Internet/Flash)