DVD Reviews

DVD Review: Poltergeist: The Legacy – Season 1

By Jeff Swindoll Feb 13, 2006, 16:42 GMT

DVD Review: Poltergeist: The Legacy – Season 1

To the unaware, Dr. Derek Rayne and his team are nothing more than a group of curators and seekers of ancient artifacts operating in a castle-like house on isolated Angel Island.  But to those “in-the-know,” they are members of Legacy, an ancient network of guardians against evil, battling to protect mankind from the creatures inhabiting the shadows and the night.   Led by Dr. Rayne, the San Francisco Legacy team is composed ...more

“Since the beginning of time, mankind has existed between the World of Light and the World of Darkness. Our secret society has been here forever, protecting others from the creatures who inhabit the shadows and the night. Know only to the initiated by our true name,…The Legacy.”

Poltergeist : The Legacy is from the producers of the new Outer Limits series. It concerns the adventures of a San Francisco based branch of the secret society mentioned in the opening crawl above. The show aired from 1996-1999, and is now collected in a Season One five-disc collection.

These branches are divided into various “houses” across the globe.  The San Francisco house is headed by Dr. Derek Rayne (Derek de Lint) and group members include ex-navy SEAL Nick (Martin Cummins), priest Father Philip (Patrick Fitzgerald), and grad student Alex (Robbi Chong). Psychiatrist Dr. Rachel Corrigan (Helen Shaver) and her daughter Kat are introduced to the group and join up after the first episode.

The first episode also introduces the past of Dr. Rayne whose father was killed in the pursuit of an object called the fifth sepulcher. The name Poltergeist is for recognition only since there appears to be no connection to the film series of the same name (Zelda Rubenstein guest shot notwithstanding). Although we could speculate that this group could’ve investigated those events. If Poltergeist was a Lucasfilm production perhaps the Legacy members could’ve been CGI-ed into the film or the distinctive Legacy member rings CG-ed onto an investigator.

Since the show is from the same producers as the new Outer Limits there are numerous guest cast crossovers. Some of the guest stars on Poltergeist : The Legacy include : W. Morgan Sheppard, William Sadler, Nick Mancuso, David Ogden Stiers, Ben Cross, Roy Thinnes, Victor Wong, Alan Rachins and Zelda Rubenstein. 

Episodes: (my ratings follow on a scale of 5)
Disc 1 : Ep.1 : The Legacy (2.9 – demon birth is comical instead of scary IMHO), Ep. 2 : Sins of the Father (3-creepy kid), Ep. 3 : Town Without Pity (3.5-Nick Mancuso crews scenery rather well) , Ep. 4 : The Tenement (3-I liked the “historical” flashbacks).

Disc 2 : Ep. 5 : The Twelfth Cave (3-enjoyed the final reveal about the artifact), Ep. 6 : Man in the Mist (3.5-good acting by the sea captain), Ep. 7 : Ghost in the Road (3-slight twist on an urban legend), Ep. 8 : Doppleganger (2.9-some child over-acting sunk this one a little for me) , Ep. 9 : The Substitute (4-both story and Ben Cross are excellent IMHO).

Disc 3 : Ep. 10 : Do Not Go Gently (3-watch for the cigarette smoking man), Ep. 11 : The Crystal Scarab (3), Ep. 12 : The Bell of Girardius (2.5-below average acting of the violin player), Ep. 13 : Fox Spirit (2.5).

Disc 4 : Ep. 14 : The Thirteenth Generation (3), Ep. 15 : The Dark Priest (3), Ep. 16 : Revelations (3-Suspiria lite), Ep. 17 : The Bones of St. Anthony (2.5-science fiction with a supernatural bent, but a poor puppet).

Disc 5 : Ep. 18 : The Inheritance (3), Ep. 19 : The Signal Man (3-I liked how the past intrudes into the present), Ep. 20 : The Reckoning (3.5-no wonder bad things happen to Rachel and Kat), Ep. 21 : A Traitor Among Us (2.5-not bad but it’s more like a clip show or best of than a season finale, I would’ve preferred the episode before this one as season finale).

All 21 of Season One’s episodes are spread over five single-sided discs and presented in their fullscreen aspect ratio of 1.33:1. The episodes run roughly an hour, with the exception being the double length premiere episode. The episodes appear to be presented uncut since there’s the occasional nudity or profanity unlike then syndicated versions that I recall watching on late night television (the show originally aired on Showtime). The shows look grainy, but in reading reviews of the new Outer Limits sets those episodes have the same problem.

I’m not sure if the grain could be removed by digital re-mastering, but trying would’ve been appreciated. However, this grain in no way affected my enjoyment of the show.  Where this set may fall down is in the extras department, there are none. All of the show’s stars are still around and it would’ve been good to see them again or hear a commentary from them.

It also would’ve been nice to hear from the series creators or producers either via interviews or commentary (such as explanation of the Poltergeist connection). There are previews for other MGM products on disc 5 but I hardly would call those special features.

Fans of the show will not have to read this review since this set is in their collection already, however, fans of horror/science fiction television may want to check it out. I found it a good show but with episodic television there are good episodes and bad ones.  The episode entitled The Substitute is my favorite and features Ben Cross in a devilish performance (he was nominated for a Cable ACE award). I also enjoyed Nick Mancuso’s deranged Reverend Hawking in the episode Town without Pity. I think that if you give it a chance, you’ll get as hooked as I was.

Poltergeist: The Legacy – Season 1 is now available at Amazon. As of yet, there is not a release date for the UK. Visit the DVD’s database for more information.

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Poltergeist: The Legacy - The Complete First Season

To the unaware, Dr. Derek Rayne and his team are nothing more than a group of curators and seekers of ancient artifacts operating in a castle-like house on isolated Angel ...more

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