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Last Updated: 18 October 2000


MORE ON SENTINEL'S RETURN - Dec 11 1998

Manhattan Mercury

LOS ANGELES---- Richard Burgi and The Sentinel are returning to UPN's lineup, thanks to fans who made it clear they wanted the action drama back on the air.

Burgi stars in The Sentinel as a crimebuster with exceptional sensory powers. The series, which was pulled at the end of the 1997-98 season, owes its return to fans who lobbied by phone and Internet on the show's behalf, a UPN spokeswoman said Thursday. The Sentinel will air Monday nights beginning Jan. 25. It will kick off by reprising its first episode, followed the  next week by an encore of last seasons finale.

As part of the revamped schedule, UPN will introduce an animated series based on Scott Adams' satirical comic strip Dilbert. The animated series is to make its debut Jan. 25.

The new schedule will move sitcom Malcolm & Eddie back a half-hour on Tuesday nights beginning Jan. 19.  A new comedy, Between Brothers, makes its debut that night.

(Thanks Laura T)


MORE MEDIA COVERAGE OF THE SENTINEL'S RETURN TO UPN

From PAGE 2 of The Scranton (PA) Times - Dec 11 1998

Fans' Voices Heard: "The Sentinel" is Back!

(LOS ANGELES) -- Richard Burgi and The Sentinel are returning to UPN's lineup, thanks to fans who made it clear they wanted the action drama back on the air.

Burgi stars in The Sentinel as a crimebuster with exceptional sensory powers. The series which was pulled at the end of the 1997-98 season, owes its return to fans who lobbied by phone and Internet on the show's behalf, a UPN spokeswoman said Thursday.

The Sentinel will air Monday nights beginning January 25th. It will kick off by reprising its first episode, followed the next week by an encore of last season's finale. As part of the revamped schedule, UPN will introduce an animated series based on Scott Adams' satirical comic strip Dilbert. The animated series is to make its debut January 25th. The new schedule will move sitcom Malcolm & Eddie back a half-hour on Tuesday nights, beginning January 19th. A new comedy Between Brothers makes its debut that night.

(Thanks Tracy)


GIVE - December 11 1998

From TV Gen Sci-Fi What's Hot - Dec 11 1998
By John Walsh

Give till it feels good. Or, if you're like some sci-fi fans, give because it feels good. Celebrity auctions are one way of remembering the neediest at the holidays. And, OK, let's be honest, occasionally scoring some killer sci-fi memorabilia. It doesn't matter why you give, all these organizations care about is that you do:

CouverCon '98

This fall's CouverCon '98 "wasn't supposed to be a Sentinel convention," says Garett Maggart, "but it sort of turned into one."

With Maggart in attendance along with fellow series stars Richard Burgi and Bruce A. Young, the Vancouver, BC, gathering enjoyed a strong Sentinel fan turnout. And best of all, the event drew donations to the Pediatric AIDS Foundation. "It was fun," Maggart says. "I showed up, I smiled, I did a little question-and-answer session, and they wound up raising something like $50,000 [U.S.]."

Not bad for a show that isn't even on the air at the moment. But here's more good news: The Sentinel returns to UPN on Mon., Jan. 25, at 9 pm/ET, with a rerun of the series pilot. Sentinel, Too, Part 1, last season's cliffhanger ending, airs Feb. 1, and is resolved the following week.

For more information about the fund-raiser, contact CouverCon@aol.com.

(Thanks Angie)


REVIVED - December 13 1998

The Province - Vancouver BC Canada
Lynne McNamara's "On Location" column

Fans of the Vancouver-shot TV series The Sentinel will be happy to hear that the sci-fi show will return to the air in January, appearing Monday nights on UPN.

The show aired Wednesdays last season but was retired when UPN set its schedule last May. When saddened fans protested, UPN picked up eight episodes for mid-season.

The network plans to air the show's original pilot on Jan. 25, followed by last season's cliffhanger episode, then this season's premiere.

The Sentinel stars Richard Burgi as Detective James Ellison, who has developed hyperactive senses after spending years in the Peruvian jungle during his tour of duty in Army Special Forces.

He can see people in darkened windows at night from 200 yards, hear music playing on the radio of the car he's chasing as he loses sight of it and can distinguish between plastic and wood after both have been in a 3,000-degree fire.

The detective is told by an anthropologist that he is a Sentinel who in ancient tribes would protect the village and see out game using those hyperactive senses.

I checked out the show's website, where one diehard fan, disgusted with the show's disappearance, writes, "I love the Sentinal (sic) and I would cut off my own right arm to see it again..."

(Thanks Lois)


SENTINEL RETURNS - December 14 1998

Sci-Fi tv, FEB 1998 #3 Future TV section, pg. 22

The Sentinel Returns to UPN eventually as a mid-season replacement.

THE SENTINEL:(UPN) Will return as a mid season replacement, either in January or March. Jeri Ryan guest stars in the initial episode, which resolves the series' cliffhanger ending.

Article included a pic of Richard Burgi smiling, green shirt and leather jacket.

(Thanks Mick C.)


FANS OUTCRY LEADS UPN TO BRING BACK SENTINEL - December 15 1998

The Columbus, Ohio Dispatch
TV Listings Page (includes nice headshot of Richard Burgi)

Richard Burgi and The Sentinel are returning to UPN's lineup, thanks to fans who made it clear they wanted the action drama back.

Burgi stars in The Sentinel as a crime-buster with exceptional sensory powers. The series, which was pulled at the end of the 1997-98 season, owes its return to fans who lobbied by phone and Internet, a UPN spokeswoman said.

The Sentinel will kick off its return Jan. 25 with its first episode, followed the next week by an encore of last season's finale."

(Thanks Myrna)


 

LOOKING OUT FOR THE SENTINEL - December 30 1998

Cinescape Jan/Feb 1999
by James Van Hise

(Photos included with this article feature scenes from Sentinel, Too - Part Two, Murder 101 and Four Point Shot.)

 

Looking Out for The Sentinel
Dedicated fans saved the series from cancellation - but for how long?

On May 20th, 1998, the third season of the UPN series The Sentinel came to a close with a dramatic cliffhanger: The hero's sidekick, Curly haired anthropologist Blair Sandburg (Garett Maggart), had been brutally attacked by a mysterious criminal (Jeri "Seven of Nine" Ryan). When the Sentinel himself, police detective Jim Ellison (Richard Burgi), arrived on the scene, it looked like his partern-in-crimefighting had been killed.

But an even more dramatic development came a day after the cliffhanger aired. It turned out that Sandburg wasn't the only one in mortal danger. His series was dead, too. UPN announced that it wasn't going to renew the series for another season.

This came as an abrupt surprise not only to the show's loyal viewers, but also to its co-creator and executive producer, Danny Bilson.

"We thought we were coming back," Bilson says, "We had no sense whatsoever that we would get canceled. None, except that the network was acting kind of weird all year. They didn't pay much attention to us. But the numbers were strong so I thought, "How could they cancel it? And they were letting us make this cliffhanger. So it was kind of shocking."

Shock - and outrage - motivated Sentinel fans to organize and protest their favorite show's abrupt demise. The hastily formed Support Our Sentinel (S.O.S.) committee launched a Web site (world.std.com/~sentinel) to encourage people to write UPN and demand that Ellison be given a chance to save his partner's life.

Six weeks after UPN's initial announcement, The Sentinel won its reprieve: The network ordered eight new episodes, which it will begin airing on Monday, Feb. 8. On the surface, it looked like a clear-cut victory for the fans.

"There were some press releases from UPN that said it was coming back because so many fans demanded it, and (UPN executive) Tom Nunan was quoted as saying he wished that some of us could get a hold of Nielson boxes," says Meredith Lynne, one of the key leaders of the Sentinel fan movement. "So we were very impressed with ourselves for a while there."

But Bilson says that behind the scenes reality isn't quite that simple. The fans may have been speaking loud and clear, but getting the network to listen wasn't that easy.

"It was very difficult to get those eight episodes, which is hard to understand when our numbers were stronger than what they have on the air this season," he says. "So it's difficult for us because we really believe in our show and we've spent a lot of years working real hard on it. And we have a very vocal fan base. I really appreciate their enthusiasm. It means a lot to all of us who do the show."

As much as The Sentinel crew values the fans, Bilson's not so sure the network does, too. In fact, he's not even sure if the grassroots SOS campaign is what won the show its temporary stay of execution.

"I wish that were the truth. It'd be nice," he says. "I don't know. I know that as of yesterday UPN won't accept the fans' mail or calls. They're sending them back to us. The fans are incredible. They're emailing and taking out ads and doing all kinds of stuff. They're really fighting for it. You would think that the network would be interested in a show that had a fan base as opposed to one that doesn't."

So what does Bilson think convinced UPN's execs to give the green light to eight more episodes?

"Corporate pressure," he says. "The Sentinel was already in profit. The back end was already sold to USA Network, up to 157 episodes, so cancellation was quite shocking considering Paramount (which produces the series) has some stake in UPN."

The Sentinel's origins are almost as convoluted as its potential demise. It was co-created by Bilson and partner Paul DeMeo in 1988, shortly before the pair wrote and produced the well-regarded Flash TV movie.

"We were working at Warner Bros. at the time, trying to come up with shows," Bilson recalls. "We wanted to do something that at the time was kind of like Lethal Weapon but with a science fiction or fantasy spin, because that's what we like. So we came up with The Sentinel when we were working with Ron Taylor at Warner Bros. Then at the beginning of '95, that same Ron Taylor was working at UPN and he called us up and said, 'A bunch of guys are pitching some psychic detective stuff, and I remembered that Sentinel idea you guys had. Would you want to do it?'

We were in the middle of writing two movies at the time, and I said, 'Yeah, if you can guarantee us that we're at least making a pilot.' Bilson continues. "So they made the deal and we went from there. It was kind of weird because it sat around for eight years."

The premise of the series combines Six Million Dollar Man style superpowers with more gritty, down to earth cop show plots. After soldier Jim Ellison is stranded in the Peruvian jungle for 18 months, he finds that the experience has heightened his senses to an almost superhuman degree. Once back in civilization, Ellison joins the police department in order to put his new abilities to their best possible use.

Burgi describes his character's heightened abilities with colorful relish. "Delicious. Delightful. Delirious," says the alliterative actor. "They're the five senses - sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch with an added sixth sense that is multidimensional. And therein lies the potential for (all humans) to be enhanced and accentuated. It was depicted in an episode last season that he had this capability as a youngster, and it was essentially repressed due to the psychic turmoil over the relationship he had with his father. It remanifested itself when he was in the jungle."

Burgi is pleased with the way his character has been developed over the course of the show's three seasons and hopes to see more development in the future. "He's become more multidimensional and more vulnerable and less monochromatic in a lot of ways because he needed to open up his spirit mind in order to muddle through this confusing world that he's found himself thrust into," the actor says. "But I could see it going into different areas, as well."

Of course, it's not clear if The Sentinel will be going into any different areas once the new episodes have aired: UPN's made no promises as to what the future could hold for the series. Bilson and company kept that in mind when working on those eight, possibly final, shows.

"We're treating it as a possible series finale," he says. "We've had so much difficulty that it's hard to imagine that, even if we get good ratings when we return, they'll renew us again."

Not that Bilson is entirely pessimistic. He says that he's "hopeful" that the network will give the series another chance. But, just in case that doesn't happen, Bilson and DeMeo have taken advantage of what might be their final opportunity to fully explore the world of The Sentinel.

"We tried a lot of things," Bilson reveals. "Paul and I have been very hands-on in these episodes because we felt like they might be our last shot. We did one where Ellison's senses allow him to perceive a ghost. That's further than we ever went before, and I think it's a really neat episode. And we did one with Robert Vaughn where he plays a TV star who was a detective and who thinks he really is a detective. That one's a lot of fun."

Of course, Bilson and DeMeo also managed to wrap up the cliffhanger (which also gave them a chance to bring back sci-fi fan favorite Ryan). And they found a way to pay homage to film noir in an episode that was partially shot in black and white.

"We've taken a lot of risks and done stuff that Paul and I really wanted to do all along because we felt like these eight episodes are ours," Bilson says. "They're really going to be good. I'm very pleased with what we've made this year. I'm excited about it, and whether the show continues or not I hope that people pay a little attention when it comes on in (Feb.)."

And just in case that brief spring run is indeed The Sentinel's final bow, Bilson and DeMeo gave the final episodes a distinct sense of closure: There'll be no thwarted cliffhangers this time.

"It does give closure to the concept we established in the pilot 65 episodes ago," Bilson reveals. "Yet it allows us to go on if we're lucky enough to get more episodes. So it's kind of an emotional episode for all of us, on screen and off screen."

 

(Thanks to Gena and Sherry)

 

 


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