Looking for some diversion in this dead dead dead week of mid-August, when Italy all but shuts down and it feels like a zombie plague is on, I dug up the DVDs of Adventure Inc., an old TV series from 2002 which I missed when it first came out, and shelved after viewing the first three episodes.
The series was apparently inspired by the exploits of real-life adventurer and treasure hunter Barry Clifford – and this is the foremost reason of interest, for me, as I read and liked Clifford’s books quite a bit (we’ll talk about the guy sooner or later).
Then it’s an adventure series, and I’m a sucker for adventure.
And while a cursory perusal of the first three episodes left me cold way back in the days of yore, now boredom has been mightier than that initial disappointment, and I gave the series a second opportunity.
The series features Michael Biehn of Aliens and Terminator fame in the role of Judson Cross, an explorer and archaeologist with a penchant for adventure and non-orthodox expeditions.
He’s got a retrieval business called Adventure, Inc., and travels the globe with his two associates – belligerent beauty “Mac” Previn (Karen Cliche) and smartypants techie kid Gabriel Patterson (Jesse Nillson) – looking for ancient artifacts and other mysteries.
Incidentally, it was the unexpected death of Nillson in 2003, aged 25, that caused the series to fold after a single season – 22 episodes in all.
The stories are modern-day Indiana Jones fare – ancient mysteries, treasure-hunting, a dash of the supernatural.
There’s the ancient mystery, the bad guys, the exotic location, a few narrow escapes, the final solution, everything packaged in neat 45-minutes episodes.
Is this any good?
Well, it’s a small-scale show trying to tell large-scale stories on a very tight budgets, which means sometimes the production values are not up to expectations – but one has to admire the bravery and the cheek of the crew for trying to pull it.
Alas, the 45-minutes format does give the impression that too much stuff is being crammed in too-small a container, and the development of the stories feels sometimes rushed. Some of the digital effects are pretty bad.
The pilot episode is particularly weak (it was the one that put me off the first time around), but then the series sort of picks up.
On the plus side, the cast is very good, some ideas are outrageous enough to be quite entertaining, and the skeptical attitude of the characters even when faced with supernatural occurrences is welcome and refreshing.
If light entertainment is what we’re seeking (and that’s what I’m seeking in this dead week), then Adventure, Inc. is a nice time-waster.
Also, I particularly like the idea of adventuring being treated as a legitimate business – these are the stories of people that get paid by third parties to jump off cliffs or brave the mysteries of the uncharted jungles, or risk life and limb facing some dread Mayan curse.
It’s a good idea, and provides a nice hook for a variety of scenarios.
And if nothing else, the chemistry between the leads is better than the one displayed in the similarly-themed and longer-lived Relic Hunter – the only TV series that actually put me to sleep… and this despite the presence of the ever-delightful Tia Carrere.
Judson Cross and his partners should have been luckier, and maybe, given enough time for the series to grow, Adventure, Inc. might have turned into a nice, pulpy show.
Sadly, costs and tragedy sunk the project after the first season.
But most pulp-themed TV series seem to be short-lived – remember Tales of the Gold Monkey, and Bring ‘Em Back Alive?