Fox’s Brimstone stars Peter Horton as the late Ezekiel Stone, a onetime New York police detective consigned to eternal damnation for murdering his wife’s rapist. Before you can say “Todd McFarlane”–or Spawn‘s creator can say “lawsuit,” unless he’s just waiting to see if the show’s a hit first–poor Ezekiel, who rated such a cheapo funeral that the undertaker didn’t even shave his three-day stubble first, schlepps back to earth on Satan’s orders. He’ll get his life back once he hunts down 113 of hell’s most nefarious denizens, who’ve just busted out of Cell Block 666. At the rate of one evildoer per episode, this may be wishful thinking on the producers’ part; still, just think Quantum Leap with the Devil (John Glover) subbing for Dean Stockwell, and you’ve pretty much got the idea.
If Charmed is TV’s latest feminocentric fantasy, Brimstone‘s a classic boy-friendly version: humorless so you won’t notice it’s silly, hooked on pulp usages not for all the neat stuff they can express but for the insecurities they help stanch, and fraught with everything but the kitchen sink, which would be way too domestic. Not to mention mighty confused about sex; one upcoming episode sends Stone after a demoness whose literally smoldering rage at her own long-ago rape turns every man unlucky enough to attract her into barbecue, and even though our hero is sensitive enough to feel her pain, of course he’s got to do her in anyway. (Once he’s shot out her eyes–the grisly way Stone ships evildoers back to the infernal depths–she slides to her knees before him; his pistol droops at his waist.) Whenever Horton’s slouching bleakly around between chases, like a dog who can’t remember where his bowl is, Glover’s Prince of Darkness pops up as cheerfully as Peter Cook in Bedazzled, working his cheekbones like an accordion for that sardonic effect while dispensing theological gems on the order of “Free will leads naturally to damnation.” And since you ask–why, no, the show isn’t half bad, as these things go. Hell. I never said it was bad, did I?