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BEASTMASTER: An underappreciated show


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#1 Christopher

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Posted 20 March 2003 - 05:03 AM

Lately Tribune has been saving money by re-running the whole Beastmaster series from the beginning instead of producing a new season, which has given me a chance to see the first season for the first time.  I first started watching it in the second season, but gave up when it was Tribunized in year 3.  I've been very glad to see its beginnings.

Okay, it's not a brilliant show; it had some silly elements, it was always heavily driven by action and sex appeal, and the lead actor wasn't all that great.  But the more I've watched, the more it's grown on me.  It had some really interesting concepts in the first couple of years, some real creativity and style.  Show-runner Steve Feke and his staff built up a rich and quirky mythology, a large ensemble of human and supernatural characters with often-complex agendas and relationships.

Some of the concepts were quite imaginative and dark.  Like the way the Beastmaster got his powers: he had to be literally torn apart by animals and put together again by Curupira, the demon in charge of nature.  It was kind of disgusting, but certainly imaginative and original, and with a very mythic quality to it.  Not the sort of thing I'd expect from a syndicated action hour these days.

I loved the fact that so many of the characters on this show were neither truly good nor truly evil.  The supernatural characters in particular were quite ambiguous, helping people when it suited them, but being quite deadly to those who got in their way.  Really a lot like nature itself.  And in the second season the human characters of Arina and King Voden were nicely ambiguous, not clear-cut villains at all.

But on the other hand Beastmaster gave us one of the most engaging examples of sheer unremediated evil I've ever seen: King Zad, played with brilliant theatricality and compelling depth by Steven Grives, an actor I would love to see more of.  And although Zad was unambiguously villainous and an unrepentant scenery-chewer, he was a very rich and nuanced character nonetheless.

The other actors were a mixed bag.  Daniel Goddard was bland as Dar.  Jackson Raine was a bit one-note as his sidekick Tao, but okay.  Graeme Bond was annoying as the Ancient One, but then I kind of think he was supposed to be.  And Monika Schnarre was surprisingly good as the Sorceress -- she's stunning to look at, but there's clearly much more to her than that.

And of course, it had a tiger.  Which, as any Calvin and Hobbes fan is aware, means that it's automatically fine art. :D

As I watch the early second season, I think I'm starting to see Tribunization kicking in -- like in "Iara" where the Sorceress and Iara got into a lengthy, pointless catfight.  And I know there are some cast changes coming up -- Voden unseats Zad, a new Sorceress emerges.  I'll pay attention this time around to see if it feels like meddling from above.

Certainly the third season changed things for the worse almost as drastically as E:FC's fifth season.  They brought in George Geiger, a writer whose work on E:FC was crude, unsubtle and unimaginative, as the new show-runner, and he "ret-conned" the whole premise, abandoning Feke's rich, original mythos and replacing it with something far more cliched and formulaic.  Okay, it was closer to the original film's premise, and it made Dar more of a central figure to the storyline when before things had largely just happened around him, instigated by others; but it just wasn't nearly as interesting.  I liked the idea of Dar as an uncomplicated guy with a rather gentle agenda, just being one with nature and helping people out, and serving life rather than taking it. I regretted seeing him turned into a long-lost prince on a mission to reconquer his kingdom.  As a committed democrat, I don't find royalty particularly heroic.

And that was just part of it.  As with E:FC & DROM, the show lost its distinctive qualities, the personality that had made it enjoyable to me despite its weaknesses in storytelling and acting, and became just another sword-and-sorcery retread with laughably corny writing.

But at least we have that flawed but fascinating first season or two, which I've finally gotten to see.  If only Tribune would save money by rerunning DROM from the beginning instead of making a fourth season....
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#2 Niko

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Posted 20 March 2003 - 07:00 AM

All great points, Christopher.  I really enjoyed Beastmaster (enough that I'll probably spring for at least the first season when ADV releases the DVD's).  

I think my favorite element of the series was how they addressed the technology vs. nature theme...it got a bit heavyhanded at times, of course, but I loved that they had a GOOD guy in Tao espousing progress, not just the evil folk, so that the conflict was an natural one, not just contrived Good vs. Evil.  They had some good ideas going on in Season 1, and managed to actually achieve more depth in Season 2 with the Zad/Voden/Dar triangle,  even if the final product wasn't always stellar.

The ret-conning in Season 3 was a travesty (along with pretty much the whole Dar's-long-lost-family storyline from soup-to-nuts.)

Oops, hit send to soon. One more comment:

Quote

As with E:FC & DROM, the show lost its distinctive qualities

What amazes me is how Tribune manages this EVERY SINGLE TIME.  How do they so accurately zero in on the charming elements of a series to weed them out?  You'd think that one or two would slip through, if it was really just stupidity at work.  I'd pay big money to be privy to how that decision making process works.  Do they put so many demands on a show that the good stuff is squeezed out under the pressure of including the mandatory elements, or is are the good elements actually targeted for removal?  The mind boggles.

Edited by Niko, 20 March 2003 - 07:09 AM.

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#3 Kevin Street

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Posted 20 March 2003 - 09:54 AM

Thanks for the analysis of "Beastmaster," Christopher! I've never seen the show, but that first season sounds interesting. :)
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#4 Christopher

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Posted 20 March 2003 - 04:29 PM

Niko, on Mar 19 2003, 10:51 PM, said:

What amazes me is how Tribune manages this EVERY SINGLE TIME.  How do they so accurately zero in on the charming elements of a series to weed them out?  You'd think that one or two would slip through, if it was really just stupidity at work.  I'd pay big money to be privy to how that decision making process works.  Do they put so many demands on a show that the good stuff is squeezed out under the pressure of including the mandatory elements, or is are the good elements actually targeted for removal?  The mind boggles.
I think it's just because they keep changing show-runners.  As Cardie pointed out in the "Seeking redemption for DROM" thread, it's cheaper for them to fire the writers and bring in new ones rather than given the original ones raises every year.  So the people who conceived those original ideas and qualities that make a show distinctive get replaced by people who have no loyalty to them -- and they're not creating something original of their own, just trying to remodel someone else's creation.  And maybe they know they don't have a long-term future with the show, that it'll just be a one-year gig before Tribune lets them go and hires someone else, so they don't really have any deep creative investment in it.

Also it's simply that the more you process and reprocess something, the more you leach it of its distinctiveness, and the blander and more homogenized it becomes.


Kevin wrote:

Quote

I've never seen the show, but that first season sounds interesting.

Well, they're into the second season in reruns now, and since it only had three seasons I don't know if it has a long-term future in syndication (this is still technically first-run syndie -- the reruns are airing in the same "package" that a fourth season would've been in if they'd made one), so I don't know how much hope you'll have of ever seeing the first season, unless they rerun it again, or release it on DVD.  But here's their official site, FWIW:

http://www.beastmaster.com/

There's some interesting stuff there -- particularly about the animals and the logistics of working with them.
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#5 MegL

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Posted 20 March 2003 - 05:54 PM

Ah Beastmaster - one of my secret viewing pleasures  :lol:

Just a few comments :)

First, while I wasn't too happy with the Iara/Curupira swap (Trivia: the actress who played Iara played Scorpius mom on Farscape!), that wasn't Tribune or the writers fault. Curupira was played by Emilie de Ravin, who was also playing Tess in Roswell at the same time. When S2 of Beastmaster rolled around, she chose to go with her job on Roswell over the one on Beastmaster (well that was a no-brainer really  :angel: ). So she had to be written out of the show, seeing she was a very important character in the Beastmaster and couldn't just disappear for a long period without some excuse :( .  However, the way she was written out did leave room for her return, had the actress ever changed her mind and come back :hehe:  .

Monika Schnarre and Steven Grives both left in Season 2 to pursue other parts and both returned to the show after they were done with them.  Monika requested her leave of absense, btw, and always intended to return - you can read more about that in TV Zone Winter Special #49.

Beastmaster seemed to have a real open door policy (at least in the first two seasons) of letting actors go off to do stuff when they wanted or needed to and then return (I've heard Grahame Bond (The Ancient One) disappearing acts (pre S3) were due to him going off to film other stuff (unfortunately he was written off show S3)).

The show had a number of actors from genre movies and TV shows show up in it, ranging from Grace Jones and Marc Singer to Gigi Edgely and Dominic Purcell (the actor who plays John Doe).

Anyway, Beastmaster is due out on DVD sometime later this year, via ADV Films (click here)


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#6 Rhea

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Posted 20 March 2003 - 05:59 PM

Christopher, on Mar 19 2003, 05:54 PM, said:

Okay, it's not a brilliant show; it had some silly elements, it was always heavily driven by action and sex appeal, and the lead actor wasn't all that great.
I rest my case. :p :p

I tried to watch it, but I was so bored by the lead actor that I couldn't concentrate. Every time he was on screen I had the urge to take a nap.  :lol:
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#7 Christopher

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Posted 20 March 2003 - 07:03 PM

MegL, on Mar 20 2003, 09:45 AM, said:

First, while I wasn't too happy with the Iara/Curupira swap (Trivia: the actress who played Iara played Scorpius mom on Farscape!), that wasn't Tribune or the writers fault. Curupira was played by Emilie de Ravin, who was also playing Tess in Roswell at the same time. When S2 of Beastmaster rolled around, she chose to go with her job on Roswell over the one on Beastmaster (well that was a no-brainer really  :angel: ). So she had to be written out of the show, seeing she was a very important character in the Beastmaster and couldn't just disappear for a long period without some excuse :( .  However, the way she was written out did leave room for her return, had the actress ever changed her mind and come back :hehe:  .
Thanks for explaining that.  I kind of assumed, since she looks like a teenage girl, that it was because the actress grew up too much and was no longer suited for an ageless demon.  Anyway, Sam Healy is much hotter, so I'm not complaining.  (And I haven't seen the "swap" yet, just the setup and the aftermath, so don't spoil it for me.)

Quote

Monika Schnarre and Steven Grives both left in Season 2 to pursue other parts and both returned to the show after they were done with them.

Okay, cool.  It led to some interesting new interrelationships, at least with Voden.  I don't remember Sorceress 2 very well, but from what I gather she seems a less interesting character; and I've never found Dylan Bierk remotely appealing.


Quote

The show had a number of actors from genre movies and TV shows show up in it, ranging from Grace Jones and Marc Singer to Gigi Edgely and Dominic Purcell (the actor who plays John Doe).

And let's not forget Keith Hamilton Cobb!  He was in the second episode, and then came back later in a flashback as that character's father.

I caught the Gigi Edgely one -- and I think she looks much better as Chiana.  Raelee Hill (Sikozu) did an episode too, and I was interested to see that Sikozu's look is kind of an intensification of Hill's own -- she really is a redhead with vivid green eyes.  Oh, and Marton Csokas (Xena's old flame Borius) had a recurring role late in the first season.


Rhea wrote:

Quote

I tried to watch it, but I was so bored by the lead actor that I couldn't concentrate. Every time he was on screen I had the urge to take a nap.

Well, that's the strength of the first season: so much of it wasn't even about him.  There was a heavy emphasis on the supporting cast -- perhaps because they recognized the weakness of their lead actor, though that's probably too cynical of me.
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#8 Niko

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Posted 21 March 2003 - 03:17 AM

Christopher, on Mar 20 2003, 10:54 AM, said:

There was a heavy emphasis on the supporting cast -- perhaps because they recognized the weakness of their lead actor, though that's probably too cynical of me.
Call me easy-to-please, but Daniel Goddard's....ummm...let's just say "inexperience" with acting....never bothered me too much.  It was well-suited for a character who was supposed to be awkward in the human world.
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#9 MegL

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Posted 22 March 2003 - 08:51 AM

Christopher, on Mar 20 2003, 09:54 AM, said:

I caught the Gigi Edgely one -- and I think she looks much better as Chiana.  Raelee Hill (Sikozu) did an episode too, and I was interested to see that Sikozu's look is kind of an intensification of Hill's own -- she really is a redhead with vivid green eyes.  Oh, and Marton Csokas (Xena's old flame Borius) had a recurring role late in the first season.
Gigi actually is in the show twice, in Season 1 and Season 3, as two completely different characters. Do you know which apperence you saw, or did you see both?

BTW, the first time she was in the show she had her natural short blond hair (the S1 episode, which was filmed before Gigi did Farscape), while the show put had her in a long, light red, wig for her second apperance.

IMO Gigi looked a LOT better in that wig than in her natural short hair. Her features work well with the longer hair and I hope some day she'll either grow her hair out or get some extentions (which might be easier for her, since I remember her once saying in a interview that her real hair is a mess to take care of because it's very fine and doesn't want to grow out), because I like to see what she looks like with the long hair, only blond  :hehe: .


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#10 Morrhigan

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Posted 22 March 2003 - 09:17 AM

I watched a couple of episodes, but couldn't get into it, even with all the eye-candy. It did inspire a new word, though: Eco-cheese. :D

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#11 Christopher

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Posted 22 March 2003 - 03:32 PM

MegL, on Mar 22 2003, 12:42 AM, said:

Gigi actually is in the show twice, in Season 1 and Season 3, as two completely different characters. Do you know which apperence you saw, or did you see both?
The first-season one.  I gave up on the third season after the first three or four weeks.
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#12 Starlight012

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Posted 23 March 2003 - 08:08 PM

I pretty much agree with Christopher's accessment.

First season, I really enjoyed. Very imaginative.

Season 2 started to show evidence of Tribunization. But on the whole was still good.

Season 3 was a "sorry [show] of mediocrity"

Quote

it's cheaper for them to fire the writers and bring in new ones rather than given the original ones raises every year. So the people who conceived those original ideas and qualities that make a show distinctive get replaced by people who have no loyalty to them --

That makes no sense to me. Every time they change writers the ratings drop i.e. they loose money. If they had kept the same writers they might have had a fourth season or even more.

Edited by Starlight012, 23 March 2003 - 08:19 PM.


#13 thesorceress

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Posted 14 March 2017 - 05:02 PM

Hello.  

This is Monika Schnarre, aka 'The Sorceress'.  

I've read with interest your comments and I'd love to answer all of them.
Christopher, perhaps you (or someone else) could assemble all the questions and I will answer them in order asap.

With Love,

Monika
xx

PS.  I will post a photo from The Beastmaster on my Instagram account today... so you know it's me.

#14 Themis

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Posted 14 March 2017 - 05:35 PM

Nice to hear from you, Monika.  What let you to these 14-year-old comments??

Edited by Themis, 14 March 2017 - 05:35 PM.

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#15 thesorceress

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Posted 15 March 2017 - 01:58 PM

View PostThemis, on 14 March 2017 - 05:35 PM, said:

Nice to hear from you, Monika.  What let you to these 14-year-old comments??

I feel so silly... I was looking for some old BM photos... and didn't look at the date of the discussion. :-)

#16 Elara

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Posted 15 March 2017 - 04:08 PM

View Postthesorceress, on 15 March 2017 - 01:58 PM, said:

I feel so silly... I was looking for some old BM photos... and didn't look at the date of the discussion. :-)

Don't feel silly. It's always nice to have the chance to learn more about  show, even an old one. I enjoyed 'BeastMaster', and would love the chance to watch it again, but I have not watched since it aired, so I can't think of any questions off-hand. Hopefully others will see this and respond with questions. :nod:
Also, if you have any specific photos in mind, perhaps someone here may know where to find them, or have them saved on their computers.
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#17 Virgil Vox

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Posted 15 March 2017 - 08:16 PM

Quote

I feel so silly... I was looking for some old BM photos... and didn't look at the date of the discussion. :-)

It's all good. I've done the same thing myself.

It's been ages since I watched the show (I really need to buy it on DVD) but I remember liking it and thinking it was a really fun show. I don't have any really specific questions, though. Maybe just a few general ones.

What was your favorite episode?

Do you still talk to any of the cast or crew?

Do you have any projects coming up?

Edited by Virgil Vox, 15 March 2017 - 08:16 PM.

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#18 thesorceress

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Posted 20 March 2017 - 06:35 PM

What was your favorite episode?

Oh, it's too hard to remember the title... but I was thrilled to direct a scene in one of the last episodes.
The director said; 'Do you have any ides?
And , of course, I jumped at the chance.

The scene was with King Zad asking me about my melancholy... and I said something like, 'It's endings and beginnings all at the same time."

Do you still talk to any of the cast or crew?

Most of us still chat on Facebook.  
Marjean Holden and I were friends before the show and still are.


Do you have any projects coming up?

I have been concentrating on my skincare line.  iampure.ca

Thank you for asking.  m.x.

Edited by thesorceress, 20 March 2017 - 07:03 PM.


#19 Lambsilencer

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Posted 25 March 2017 - 04:52 PM

Hi Monika

How funny meeting you here, because I just realized that "Waxwork 2. Lost in Time" aka "Spaceshift" is being released on Blu-Ray and I remembered you in that movie and was wondering what you were up to these days. And here you are. :)

Do you remember anything fun about that "Waxwork 2" shoot?

Greets
Lambsilencer

Edited by Lambsilencer, 25 March 2017 - 04:55 PM.


#20 Orpheus

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Posted 26 March 2017 - 08:44 AM

A bit off-topic, but this was once an Andromeda-focused board. Do you have any memories to recount of your appearances on Andromeda?


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