Last Updated: 8 April 2002
RICHARD BURGI CHAT ON YAHOO/TVGEN - FEB 1 1999
Thanks to Kay Lynne for the chat
E! ENTERTAINMENT REPORT ON SENTINEL, TOO - PART
TWO - Feb 1 1999
"In Voyager, Jeri Ryan has gone where no men,
or women, have gone before..."]
[picture of Jeri Ryan as Alex Barnes]
"but now, a loyal following of TV viewers has
enticed Jeri to reprise her more down-to-earth role on UPN's sci-fi action
series The Sentinel. Patrick Stinson has more."
[title - 'back by popular demand' and footage
of the temple and Jim-in-the-bath scenes]
Patrick Stinson (VO): " Jeri Ryan returns to The
Sentinel for another guest appearance as Alex Barnes, a nefarious character
with extra-sensory abilities."
[snip of Alex talking to Jim about how her sensory
awareness has doubled, etc., ending "I want you to see what I see."]
PS (VO): "What Jeri's fans will see on The
Sentinel is a character and a setting far different from her full-time
job on another sci-fi show, Star Trek: Voyager."
[clip of Jeri in 7 of 9 outfit, putting on lipstick
and mugging for the camera, cut to interview of Jeri dressed as Alex.]
Jeri Ryan: "My first scenes were literally
in 50 degrees and, I mean, pouring down rain, and I'm rolling around in
the mud and running through the woods and climbing on a downed chopper
and things like that, but it's... I mean, we're having a good time."
[clips from the shoot-out in the jungle with her
escaping on the chopper, and then JR hugging Tony Westman, director of
PS (VO): "These are indeed good times on the set
of The Sentinel, cast and crew have had their spirits buoyed by
loyal fans who helped get the show back on the air after it was canceled
[clips of Jim in the tank, Tony Westman filming,
cut to Richard Burgi]
Richard Burgi: "I was very grateful how
people responded to the show, and, you know, just a way of receiving, you
know, the input of the audience."
[cut to Michael Lacoe, producer]
Michael Lacoe: "The core of the fan base
is largely female, and they're the ones that kind of rose to the challenge
and came forward very vocally and put in ads at their own expense and dug
into their pockets and put their money where their passions were."
[clip of Alex kissing Jim in the tank]
PS (VO): "Cast and crew, meantime, are facing
their new lease on life with plenty of passion as well."
[cut to RB]
RB: "A lot of lip-locks, a lot of head-locks,
a lot of love, a lot of sorrow, a lot of crime-fighting, action and adventure."
[clip of Jim and Alex meeting and kissing on the
PS (VO): "The Sentinel airs Monday nights
on UPN. I'm Patrick Stinson for E News."
[host reaction: <wide eyes>"Oh my!"]
(Thanks to Carla and the Official
Richard Burgi Fan Club)
FUTURE IS TENTATIVE FOR SENTINEL - Feb 7 1999
The Arizona Republic
By Kate O'Hare
Tribune Media Services
Saved from TV limbo by an eight-episode order from UPN, Danny
Bilson and Paul DeMeo, creators and producers of The Sentinel, admit
the show's future is uncertain.
(Thanks Pam and Suz)
"Our only shot here, this eight, is our reprieve," DeMeo says. "It's
a crazy business."
The Sentinel, which airs Monday at 8 p.m., stars Richard Burgi
as veteran police detective Jim Ellison, whose 18-month isolation in the
Peruvian jungle allowed him to develop vastly enhanced senses. Acting as
his partner is an anthropologist, Blair Sandburg (Garett Maggart), who
helps him understand and channel his abilities to fight crime. The show
began its fourth season on Jan. 18with a repeat of the show's pilot; the
first of the eight new episodes aired Feb. 1.
"All we can do as creators and producers is try to make them as good
as we can," DeMeo says, "and hope we get a response. Like Danny said, we
love the show. Each one of these eight episodes is real special. They're
all stories that we really like, they're stories we've wanted to do for
a while, that we're finally doing now.
"We're doing a ghost story; we're doing an episode where we have Robert
Vaughn as a guest star. He did a great job; it's a fun episode. He's playing
an actor who used to play a detective on TV, and then he gets involved
with a crime and the police department.
"In our final episode that we're shooting this year, we have Leigh Taylor-Young
coming back as Sandburg's mom."
Says Bilson, "We did another episode with NBA players. We did one last
year, we're doing one this year, a big extravaganza." (That episode, "Four
Point Shot," is scheduled to air Feb. 15.)
But what would Burgi have liked? "You know, whisked away by giant
Andean condors, plopped into a seething froth of Amazonian piranhas, something
like that would be, I think, fitting and wonderful. I'm sick of Sandburg
in my apartment, time for him to move out! I don't have a life!"
Speaking of Sandburg and Ellison in close quarters, among the show's
Internet fans, discussion constantly circles about supposed homosexual
"Yeah," Bilson says. "Actually, in the last episode, you find out they
"He's kidding, of course," DeMeo chimes in. "When we read that, we always
laugh about it. To us, it's so obviously just a perception. There's no
intent there at all, but hey, whatever gets viewers to the show, great."
Do the actors have any fun with this idea? "Not on camera," Bilson says,
"but off camera there's lots of fun with that. If you ever saw the gag
reel, there's so many scenes of them kissing."
"We were just talking about the homoerotic thing the other day," DeMeo
says, "and we said, 'Why don't we make the last shot of the show, the lights
come on, and the two of them are in bed together with the sheet pulled
up . . .' "
"Smoking a cigarette," Bilson says.
"Smoking a cigarette," DeMeo says, "and 'The End.' "
"Anyway," Bilson says, "it has nothing to do with the show. It's a show
about two friends. The appeal of the show has always been, at least with
the fans, the friendship. . . . They go through all this stuff, and they
always honor their friendship in the end.
"In the finale we're doing, that's exactly what happens. Sandburg makes
a major sacrifice for his friend. It's going to be a really nice way to
Finale? Are you giving up? "What we're doing in the last episode, if
it is the last one, it completely closes up everything we opened up in
the pilot, yet leaves a window open for us to continue," Bilson says.
FANS ARE RALLYING TO KEEP SENTINEL ON UPN - Feb
Albany Times Union
By Mark McGuire
The Sentinel is a nice little
show, a very nice little show by UPN standards. But a better story than
the plotlines in this unique cop drama is how it got back on the air for
its fourth season.
The show was dead after three years. Technically,
UPN didn't cancel it: It was "bumped" from the schedule until mid-season.
It didn't make a difference: canceled, bumped,
shoved -- it wasn't on.
Sentinel is the story of a Cascade, Wash., cop who had survived a crash
in Peru as a member of Special Forces and walks away with magnified sensory
powers. Paired with Lt. Detective Jim Ellison (Richard Burgi) is Blair
Sandburg (Garett Maggart), an anthropology graduate student who is aware
of the Peruvian Sentinel myth behind these powers and is studying
the detective as a full-time observer.
It is a cop series, a buddy series, with a heavy
accent on the mystical and special effects. But there is something else
you should know about The Sentinel.
It has fans. Not a lot, but they are there --
and rabid. Throughout this country. Germany. Italy and Australia. And they're
"We have a very vociferous fan base," said Burgi,
the former soap star (Days of Our Lives, Another World, One Life to
Live). "Their ferocity is something to be reckoned with. The people
behind it are zealously passionate."
The show is back, for now. The Sentinel
(Mondays at 9 p.m., WSBK, Ch. 38, WVBG, Ch. 25) is not a ratings winner.
For one, it is on UPN. Secondly, it is normally up against Ally McBeal
(Fox) and Everybody Loves Raymond (CBS). For the week of Jan. 25
it finished 111th out of 132 shows.
But it finished fifth out of 12 UPN offerings,
which made its absence from the fall schedule upsetting to the cast and
producers -- and excruciating to its small band of hard-core fans.
Daria Littlejohn, a 50-year-old illustrator from
Dearborn Heights, Mich., is one of them. She was of the group that took
an ad out for the show last Monday in USA Today (at a cost, she said, of
$9,000; previous fan-paid ads have also run). Littlejohn was also with
SOS -- Save Our Sentinel -- which was among those who demonstrated
in January at the Television Critics Association gathering in Pasadena,
"There were over 250 of us there," Littlejohn
said. "There would have been more, but a lot of people spent money in October
for a Sentinel convention in Vancouver" (where the show is shot).
Burgi shook every hand of the fans, who were overwhelmingly
female. "I like going into the fray," the actor said. "I enjoy meeting
You have to ask Littlejohn, nicely, why this show?
Why such devotion?
"I never really felt before like this for a show.
I guess having met the people makes it even more special," Littlejohn said.
"Each show in itself is like a mini-movie. The special effects, the storyline
. . there is quality."
This is a relatively new battleground. There have
been other fan-based movements like this before. Dr. Quinn: Medicine
Woman. My So-Called Life. I'll Fly Away. All quality shows.
The Sentinel? Again, a solid show, but
not in the realm of those above. The difference today is pockets of fans
across the country are now bonded by a second technological tool: the Internet.
"It really surprised me," said Maggart, 29, the
son of actor Brandon Maggart (Chicken Soup, Jennifer Slept Here)
and half-brother of rocker Fiona Apple. "Not being too computer literate,
the effect the Internet has, specifically in this situation, is incredible."
And loud. The Internet -- Web sites, e-mails and
chat rooms -- amplify those frustrations throughout the general public.
There is still bitterness between the network and fans -- and UPN and the
"I took it personally," Burgi said. "I don't think
I have the same sense of blind trust or faith with the network. I wasn't
dealing with people who were clear-thinking or compassionate with their
UPN spokesman Paul McGuire (no relation) said
the show was bumped for Seven Days. He said while plans were in
place to bring it back, the fan revolt played a factor.
"They are fanatics. . . . It is definitely on
the radar of the people involved," he said. "It reminds you of the power
of the people watching the show. It is a phenomena."
And a welcome one at that. Fans of Cupid
and other quality shows departed or on the rocks, are you paying attention?
Guess what: You can have a voice.
Mark McGuire is the Times Union TV/Radio writer.
His column generally appears Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Call him at
454-5467 or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
MASTER OF PERCEPTION - RICHARD BURGI INTERVIEW - FEB 15 1999
Sci-Fi TV magazine
by Kim Howard Johnson
(Thanks Kathy and Sherry)
The Sentinel is
standing guard for another season. And Richard Burgi is glad to be back
- especially since the series managed to dodge cancellation, returning
to UPN early this year. As viewers know, the hour long series combines
action and fantasy as it chronicles the adventures of Lt. Detective Jim
Ellison, a former soldier and sole survivor of a mission to the Peruvian
jungle that left him with radically enhanced senses.
Ellison appealed to Burgi from the beginning.
"it was his sense of honour", says Burgi, "his integrity and his ascerbic,
sarcastic wit. Plus, the fact that he was taller than me."
But it wasn't just Burgi's interest that won him
Ellison. A recurring part on Viper, produced by Sentinel
creators Danny Bilson and Paul DeMeo, helped lead to his star role, although
Burgi's first encounter with Bilson and DeMeo came in an earlier genre
outing. "I actually read for the original Flash. I did not get it,
but I ended up doing an episode of that show for them later," says Burgi.
"I've known them since then."
Bilson and DeMeo called in Burgi to headline The
Sentinel, but the actor doesn't attribute any special significance
to their choice. "I was just another schmuck, another actor in town, "
he says. "I had finished a series in Hawaii when they called my agent,
and one thing led to another."
Ellison is aided each week by anthropology student-turned
police observer Blair Sandburg (Garett Maggart), who helps him deal with
his radically enhanced senses. Sandburg's encyclopedic knowledge of the
"sentinel' mythos forces Ellison, albeit reluctantly, to team up with him
as they battle terrorist, hijackers and assassins. The Sentinel
triumvirate is completed by police captain Simon Banks (Bruce A. Young),
who supervises the pair and begins to rely on Ellison's unique abilities.
Burgi guarantees viewers that this season will
include more of the action and excitement they've come to expect from The
Sentinel, along with a few twists. "We did a noir-ish episode, we're
doing some wacky, funny stuff in another show, and we're doing a fair amount
of mystically-influenced work," he says. "We're trying to continue with
many of the essential ingredients that have been the mix from the beginning.
"Viewers can expect much more of the seat-of-the-pants
variety of action-adventure that we've been providing. The writers and
producers have really made an effort to bring a fun DJ to the dance floor,
so everybody can have a good stomp with The Sentinel. They've
really tried to come up with some interesting, yet do-able shows consistent
with what we've done in the past."
Yet despite the action and paranormal abilities,
it's the character's relationships that the fans cherish. "Viewer's love
the characters and (love to watch them) overcome obstacles in their lives,
whether it's within their personal relationships or their relationships
with the outside world," says Burgi. "It's classic good guy-bad guy stuff.
Fans want to see their hero's lives within the choices they make each episode.
Many viewers simply tune in to The Sentinel
for the action. "That also intrigued me about the show, some of the stunts,
the fun and the wacky predicaments that the characters get into," notes
Burgi. "Some of the action sequences are appealing. I find all that very
fun - hanging off helicopters, jumping on and off trains, driving locomotives
and boats, falling into water, jet-skiing and escape mechanisms in assault
and pursuit vehicles."
likes to do many of the stunts himself, though the line has to be drawn
somewhere. "I try to do a fair amount, but when it becomes unnecessary
for me to do something, I'll opt to have them use my stunt guy," he laughs.
"If it's something that I think might be dangerous, I obviously
won't do it. I like the stunts, but when you do a tonne of them, it gets
old after a while.
The actor has done so many stunts that he can't
recall a single one he is most proud of. "I liked hanging off the helicopter
and climbing up on it. I liked walking on the back of a moving plane,"
he says. "There have been times that it has been fun and risky at the same
Ellison's hyper-vigilant senses have historical
precedent in the writings of 19th century British explorer Richard Burton,
who described a phenomenon in remote tribal cultures. Villagers chose a
watchman or "sentinel" with a sensory awareness developed well beyond ordinary
humans, senses sharpened by solitary time in the wild then charged him
with guarding the tribe's borders. Burgi uses the little-known phenomenon
as background for his role, noting that everything he does with Ellison
is based in the real world. "I try to ground all of it in a sense of reality,
and the potential for the human condition," the actor says. "I've experienced
moments of heightened sensory awareness under various circumstances in
my life. I think that all people have the potential for hyper-awareness
or a higher consciousness. I try to live in a moment when these things
are happening and suspend my disbelief, because I think the character has
a sense of disbelief or cynicism about the whole possibility or having
The Sentinel is
much more than just another cop show. It explores Ellison's hyper-senses,
but it also has a somewhat glib take on events. "Many times when we go
into a scene, we need to put our tongues in our cheeks," says Burgi. "We
try to dance between comedy and drama, between fantasy and reality. It's
an interesting kind of rumba to play week after week, because it can get
silly - it can become a parody. We go into it with a sense of humor and
integrity in terms of playing it real, and going into it with an appreciation
for the theatre of the absurd. We just constantly try to infuse each scene
with quality that's consistent with the integrity of the show and its characters."
The Sentinel expertly
balances characterization with action, according to Burgi. "To me it's
all entertainment. We look to pursue the various forms within the
paranormal world with equal vigor, with a sense of constantly delving into
areas with a sense of wonder. Banks is the grounded character, and Sandburg
and Ellison are tethered in reality in some way by Banks as they're flying
around, involved in these wacky capers and supernatural, mystical escapades.
We allow for the characters to live that way."
how would Burgi use such interesting powers, were he to find himself blessed
with superior faculties? "I would probably use those powers to further
my Peeping Tom adventures!" he jokes. "I would then listen in on conversations
where I was sure people were talking about me, and I would be better at
the race track! Seriously, how would I use them? If I had been blessed
that way, I would like to give back to mankind a certain gift. I would
use it for the betterment and the potential evolution of mankind.
Ellison sometimes finds his abilities a double-edged
sword - even a curse. Burgi points to the drawbacks of such hypersensitivity.
"As far as the character is concerned, there are times where something
comes in to overload his senses," he says. "That's probably the only time
it becomes a hindrance. When he's doing some investigative work or tuning
in to a certain frequency, an aberration of some sort sometimes come in
to knock him out of it. It's a little to disruptive and jarring for his
liking. That's where it gets in the way."
Burgi says co-stars Maggart and Young are wonderful
to work with, and their interactions strengthen the series. "Garett and
Bruce are sweethearts, two of my favorite people," Burgi enthuses. "I'm
really blessed to be working with them. We have a lot of fun - we have
our differences at times, but we're a little family unit here. We're subject
to so many familial (situations) that we've become very close. We approach
work differently, and the confluence of those approaches produces a very
interesting product. But I really love both of them very much."
Last season's cliffhanger, in which viewers witnessed
the apparent death of Sandburg, in the cross fire between two Sentinel
titans, will be resolved early this season. "Sandburg was killed off because
he's no-god ne'er-do-well who was starting to bug Jim and the rest of the
police department," jokes Burgi. "Seriously, he's going to be revived,
either in spirit or corporeally. So, it's very possible that his returning
to the show might be an altered capacity. In other words, it's not all
bad news for Sandburg fans."
returnee - if only for the first episode of the new season - is Jeri Ryan,
who was responsible for Sandburg's apparent demise. "She's coming back
to wrap up the cliffhanger," say Burgi. "We have to expunge that entity
and vanquish the evil within her, and in some way resuscitate the essence
of Sandburg. The show must go on." The return of The Sentinel to
the UPN lineup was due to at least in part to the letters, phone calls,
E-mail and other support from its loyal fans. And Burgi couldn't be more
grateful. "A large amount of the energy behind the decision was due to
the cascade of fan calls, feelings and responses," says Burgi. "Fans had
a lot to do with it."
Burgi's career began on daytime dramas, a perfect
training ground. "I loved 'em," he admits. "I learned to memorize an inordinate
amount of material in a short period of time. I really just tried to hang
on to the essence of my acting style, which I guess is a Method approach.
I tried to incorporate a lot of Eastern philosophy in my work, coming to
the material in a childlike way, always with the beginner's mind and a
sense of exploration."
The actor eventually moved to prime time action
shows, including a guest role on the "Deadly Nightshade" episode of The
Flash. "It was really fun wearing that outfit," Burgi confesses, "and
I love diabolical characters. I've always gravitated toward darker, twisted,
gnarled personalities. I've always been intrigued by that side. I remember
driving one of the first NSX cars, the high-end Accura that looked like
a Ferrari, before the car hit the showrooms. It was real fun, wacky experience
- a comic book, kind of torqued reality. I really like that stuff."
Afterwards, Burgi won a recurring role as diabolical
Lane Cassidy on Viper. "I was on there for months and had a great
time," he recalls. "I was playing the sinister head of the syndicate. I
had my own set, so I never interacted much with the other characters except
when they pursued me. It was fun to have that autonomy."
Though he went on to co-star with Cheryl Ladd
in One West Waikiki afterwards, he says the producers of Viper
remembered him when they creating The Sentinel. "They respected
me as an actor, and it was just a question of whether or not the people
they were with thought of me as some archetypal leading male," Burgi notes.
"I was always happy to be playing the second banana or the bad guy. I prefer
During the breaks from The Sentinel, the
actor portrayed a monstrous husband in the UPN TV movie remake of I
married a Monster from Outer Space. "I tried to keep it simple, and
to feel uncomfortable being a human, in my own skin. I tried to just live
in an uncomfortable place," he says. "Anybody can feel like an alien if
they've moved from one place to another or if they've changed jobs. If
they really check in with themselves, they only have their skin to be comfortable
in, and in the event that's challenged or rendered uncomfortable, it's
a very odd feeling. I've been in situations in my life where I have been
uncomfortable in my own skin - subsequently, all my movements and feelings
and behavior were attenuated. So, I think more people than you might believe
can relate to being an alien.
For the moment, however, Richard Burgi is having
fun as the world's super-sensitive guardian. "The Sentinel has laughs,"
he says. "It's silly, it's serious, it's dramatic, it's goofy, and there's
an overall positive message. It's a great ride."
SENTINEL EPISODE PREVIEW - Feb 21 1999
New Orleans Times Picayune
TV Focus magazine
by Benjamin Morrison, staff writer
Film Noir In Color
The UPN action series The Sentinel mixes a little black and white
(and even some sepia) with its color for a film noir episode offering style
Many standard motifs of the dark films of the '40s are pulled out, including
the police interrogation under the bright light, lots of cigarette smoke
(Lucky Strikes, in one case), trench coats and the vampy woman with a past.
She in in fact called Veronica, and she has these scenes at a lake.
(Hmm.) Water and the water's edge were often part of film noir, as well
as boats and beaches. It's all here.
This time out, perennial good-guy Jim Ellison (Richard Burgi)
is in trouble, a suspect in a complex plot and double-cross tied to an
ex-love (Veronica) and a former best friend, who happened to marry each
other. When there are missing drugs and a fiery death, Ellison is the prime
The hour handles time shifts by going to black and white (recent past)
and sepia (memory). One bit is particularly nice, when an explosion adds
a single segment of color to an otherwise b&w landscape.
The program may be a little offbeat for show fans, but it's a good outing
from a good series.