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Published:March 25th, 2009 20:02 EST
Universal Action Pack's 15th Anniversary with Hercules

Universal Action Pack's 15th Anniversary with Hercules

By Garrett Godwin

With Baywatch paving the way, weekly syndication series started to peak in the mid-90s thanks to the Action Pack from Universal Television. Debuted in 1994, it began as a series of several two-hour movies that served as backdoor pilots for potential shows:

 

  • Vanishing Son follows the story of Jian-Wa (Russell Wong) and Wago Chang, martial arts brothers who escaped from China to America for a better life. The movies followed Jian-Wa wanting to pursue a career in music, while Wago decides to go into organized crime. When it returned as a series in January 1995, Jian-Wa became a wanted fugitive framed for murder by the General, as he seeks evidence to clear his name. Along the way, he helps those in need while staying one step ahead of authorities -- aided by the spirit of his brother. A modern-day version of The Fugitive meets Kung Fu, Vanishing Son had promise and was the first show ever to have an Asian-American actor in a leading role on television. However, it was cancelled after 13 episodes.

     

  • After five successful films, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys also became a series that same year. The show chronicles the adventures of the strong he-man (Kevin Sorbo), son of the god Zeus and a mortal woman, as he and buddy Iolaus (Michael Hurst) traveled the land fighting evil and helping people. Hercules became an international sensation throughout 1999, spawning Xena: Warrior Princess (Lucy Lawless) that fall, which became more popular than its predecessor -- and even Baywatch until 2001 after six successful seasons.

     

  • Based on the series of novels from William Shatner, TekWar takes place in the future, following ex-cop Jake Cardigan (Greg Evigan) hired by Walter Bascom (Shatner) to fight the rising tide of "tek", a highly addictive computer-reality drug that takes users to a fantasy world. TekWar lasted only 18 episodes from 1994-96.

     

  • Based on the character created by Hal Needham and portrayed by Burt Reynolds, Bandit followed the trucker and his friend Lynn (Brian Krause, Charmed) getting into trouble, outfoxing those Smokeys, and helping those they encountered. Bandit was scheduled to be a weekly series, but star Brian Bloom backed out of it, and future plans were shelved.

     

  • Sadly, both the Midnight Run films with Christopher McDonald as bounty hunter Jack Walsh (originally played by Robert DeNiro in the hit 1988 film) and Knight Rider 2010 didn`t make the cut as weekly shows.

     

    Though dissolved in 2001, the Action Pack gave us exactly that: action, adventure, drama, fantasy, romance, humor, and escapism.

     

    Here`s the theme in it`s entirely from YouTube:

     

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OnqCnWPg4-0