Yet another of Fox’s many bungles during the late 90’s/early 2000’s, Brimstone ran for a mere 13 episodes. But man, this is a fun one.
The series follows Ezekiel Stone, a damned cop resurrected by Satan himself to drag 113 escaped souls back to hell in exchange for a second chance at life. The cause of Stone’s damnation is sympathetic (revenge for his wife’s rape), and Peter Horton plays the part with the appropriate amount of melancholy, lightened by wry humor involving his position as a man out of time and his exchanges with the devil. As good as Horton is, it’s Satan, played by John Glover, who steals the show. Glover oozes slimy charisma in the role and makes for a thoroughly enjoyable jerk even as he delights in tormenting the protagonist.
There are a number of additional elements that make the show unique in its genre. Stone experiences something of a reset each morning, forcing him to make do with the exact same items he had with him when he was murdered (his handgun, badge, and about thirty bucks in his wallet). Hell also has a nasty habit of merging with its denizens during the length of their stay. The long years, even centuries, suffered by many of the escapees have granted most of them powers well beyond Stone’s abilities and usually put him at a severe disadvantage. There are also hints dropped that Stone’s fate is as much a design of heaven as hell. Alas, the series never had the chance to fully flesh out this aspect of the plot.
Perhaps the deepest element of Brimstone’s story is that a number of the souls Stone is charged with retrieving prove to be no worse than himself. This makes for some interesting moral conflicts for the character, even as the chance for a reunion with his wife tempts him from the periphery.
Of the shows Fox canned in its horror/sci-fi heyday, Brimstone is the one I mourn the most. There were such huge opportunities for the characters and plot, it was a damned shame to watch it all end without the resolution it deserved.