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April 12, 2001

The Hauntmaster

Special Unit 2 copyright UPNIt's been a long time since we've had something interesting on TV. There was the first season of Buffy. That didn't last long. Starting with episode seven we saw a glimpse of what the show would become. A hormone driven pre-teen love fest which spawned even more teenage angst excrement ala Angel. It appears once the 90210 bug bites the infection lasts a long time.

Well now it's mid season 2001 and we have Special Unit 2. A kind of Men in Black meet the X-Files with just enough Scooby Doo thrown in to make it funny. SU2 is the story of a secret department of the Chicago Police Department in charge of policing the "links". Links being those missing links between man and beast that Darwin theorized. Of course the links in SU2 aren't the ape man hybrid popularized by the scientific community. These links include mythological creatures like gargoyles, werewolves, spider women, and even creatures made from the fat of people who underwent liposuction. 

Nick O'Malley in the hands of a Gargoyle from episode 1 copyright UPN We're led through the adventures or is it misadventures of SU2 through the exploits of two detectives, Nick O'Malley (Michael Landes) and Kate Benson (Alexondra Lee). O'Malley is a young but veteran member of the department with a penchant for violence who isn't phased by the supernatural  and is constantly at odds with Carl (Danny Woodburn) a well connected gnome whom the department keeps out of trouble for access to information on the Links. Kate is drafted into SU2 in the first episode after she is suspended from her position as an officer in the Chicago Police Department. Seems she has had a special sense for the links since childhood, she can see them. This has caused many to think her crazy but made her the perfect candidate for SU2.

The beauty of SU2 is that it fills a gap in the horror/sci-fi genre on television. It is campy, fun, and isn't to be taken too seriously. A nice fit between the self-righteous X-Files and the lusty self-absorbed Buffy.

Cast of Special Unit 2 copyright UPN Although SU2 takes place in Chicago it is actually shot in Los Angeles. The underground headquarters of SU2, an abandoned subway station accessed through a dry cleaning store is in real life the condemned L.A. Herald Examiner building accessed most likely through the front door. In an interview creator Evan Katz said he chose Chicago because a nobody would care about a show about monsters in Los Angeles and New York was overdone. He thought the Art Deco architecture of Chicago added the perfect element to the show. One has to ask though, what's so bad about the Victorian architecture of San Francisco? It was good enough for Interview with a Vampire wasn't it?!?

The special effects in SU2 are good, not great. There were some minor flaws in the first episode. I look forward to seeing more solid episodes of SU2 from UPN. Let's hope this time though they don't corrupt what they've started. In episode one Nick explains to Kate that all of the fairytale monsters are real. Except vampires, those are complete fiction. If this is any indication we can expect great episodes of SU2 in the future.

Be sure to check out SU2 Wednesday's at 8 p.m. 

Special Unit 2 Stars:

Michael Landes - Nick O'Malley
Alexondra Lee - Kate Benson
Danny Woodburn - Carl
Sean Whalen - Sean Radmon
Richard Gant - Captain Richard Page


Patrick Tatopoulos (Bram Stoker's Dracula, Seven)

Executive Producer:

Evan Katz (JAG, The Commish)

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