Strange World was a short-lived sci-fi series in the tradition of The X-Files. ABC cancelled it after airing three episodes due to poor ratings. The remaining ten episodes were picked up and aired by the SciFi Channel.
Strange World revolves around Captain Paul Turner. While serving in the Gulf War he was exposed to chemical weapons and developed aplastic anemia. Also a doctor, Turner works for USAMRIID (United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases) where he investigates the unethical uses of science, medicine, and related technologies. He is approached by a mysterious Asian woman who gives him a temporary cure for his symptoms. She works for a shadow organization whose goals run counter to USAMRIID.
In Lullaby, Cass is a young pregnant woman. She fears her doctor is trying to kill her unborn child. As Turner investigates, he learns that Cass is a surrogate mother and there may be something to her story. Many of her doctor's patients mysteriously miscarry at 6 months. There's a medical experiment being performed on Cass and the others. Callum plays Vince, Cass's boyfriend, who tries very hard to do what he believes is right.
The IMDB page: Strange World: Lullaby.
Cast / Characters:
Callum Keith Rennie
Capt. Paul Turner
Dr. Sidney MacMillan
Major Lynne Reese
Doctor Jeffrey Boland
Original Air Date: March 9, 1999 (Season 1, Episode 2)
Runtime: 60 minutes (13 episodes)
IMDB rating: Overall 7.9 (28 votes) This episode does not have a rating due to insufficient votes (less than 5).
Genre: Drama, SciFi, Thriller
Keywords: None listed
There are 9 user comments.
Yeah, that's right, I said it. Big deal, vanna fight about it? As one of the few hardcore sci-fi geeks who DIDN'T like the X-Files, Strange World really filled in that gap. Gordon took what he learned at X-Files and made it better. No more far-fetched stories that were here today, gone tomorrow. No more ridiculously-formulaic story structure (FBI agents investigate phenomena, stop threat, then go back to bureau and wait to investigate again).
In Strange World, we got a man constantly haunted by his disease and his dependencies, as well as the group who's after him. He's a more down-to-earth character, dealing with more down-to-earth sci-fi mysteries that are more interesting because they feel more real, not some ridiculous story about vampires or computer vixens or people who can control the weather. Hopefully, it will be on DVD soon, and you can all see for yourself that talk about Strange World.
You can find all the comments here.
Callum Quotient: Approx. 20%
- Cass: Vince says I'm just being paranoid. For a while I thought maybe he was right 'cause this is my first time. But something inside of me keeps telling me what he's doing to me and this baby isn't normal.
Cass: No! Not Vince. Dr. Boland.
- Cass: So, you and him a couple? (Sydney smiles.) Yeah, I got that vibe. You married? (Sydney shakes her head.) Me neither. Not that I wouldn't marry Vince in a second if only he'd ask me.... I know what you're probably thinking. You didn't exactly see him at his best but he loves me. He's never once hit me.
Sydney: That's good.
- Cass: I'm hungry.
Vince: Well, eat something.
Cass: We don't have anything here.
Vince: Order a pizza.
- Vince: Do you think I'm stupid? Do you think I don't know what you're doing?
- Vince: When all this is over, we get our money, if you want, if you want, we can have one of our own
- Kristin Lehman (Dr. Sidney MacMillan) appeared as Rhonda in the Due South episode Flashback.
- Lisa Bunting (Donna Matson) appeared in The X-Files episode Lazarus as did Callum. She also played Sally in Chasing Rainbows.
- Co-creator Howard Gordon was an Executive Producer on The X-Files.
- Paul Turner interviewing the Matsons
- Vince and Cass in their apartment
- Paul confronting FBI agent Hoffman
- The final scene with Paul and the mysterious Asian woman.
Do I want to show this to my parents / friends / co-workers?
It's pretty good.
Eh. It's okay.
Not so good. Actually kinda bad.
Spork your eyes out BAD.
None at all.
Just a little bit.
Of course, there's violence.
Did I mention the blood and gore?
A little bit.
It might make you smile.
No laughs. 'Tis a serious show.
Yeah, but I don't think humor was what they intended.
None at all.
If you squint maybe.
...sadly it doesn't feature CKR
Practically non-stop sex.
Zip. Zero. Zilch.
He's the hero! \o/
He's a good guy.
He has some good qualities. He tries to do the right thing.
Who am I kidding? Of course, he's a bad guy.
He's the worst!
So how many people die at his hands?
None at all.
Two. Or maybe three.
I lost count.
How crazy is Vince?
He's perfectly sane.
He has some problems, but who doesn't?
He means well.
Fine. He's totally nuts.
Vince's hot though. Right?
He's kinda cute.
C'mon, it's CKR we're talking about here; the definition of HOT.
Nope. Not at all.
It's really hard to say.
Maybe a little bent.
Yeah, if I had to bet on it.
Totally and absolutely.
Does he die?
You really want to know? Are you sure? Really sure? Well, then. (highlight to read)
::Sadly, yes, he does. But it's a noble and heroic death.::
ABC investigates weird science
Starring Tim Guinee, Kristin Lehman, Saundra Quarterman, Vivian Wu
Premiere: March 8,10 p.m.
Tuesdays, 10 p.m.
Review by Patrick Lee
Paul Turner (Guinee), an Army scientist, is part of an elite team sent into Iraq in 1991 to investigate the release of toxins from a top-secret bombing raid. He and his partner are accidentally infected with the toxin, which gives them a rare, incurable and fatal anemia.
Cut to the present. Turner's been receiving secret treatments for his own version of Gulf War syndrome from a mysterious Asian woman (Wu), who is manipulating him on behalf of unknown, possibly malevolent forces. As long as he does what she says and tells no one, he will continue to receive the treatments that keep him alive. All she'll tell him is that "There's a reason you were chosen."
In the first episode of Strange World, Turner is asked to help solve a murder-kidnapping in which his former partner is the prime suspect. Turner discovers that the boy has a secret twin who is being held by his former partner. He offers to rejoin his colleagues at USAMRIID--the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases--to get to the bottom of it using an obscure clause that allows the appointment of a special investigator to look into criminal "abuses of science."
What Turner finds is a plot involving human cloning and a conspiracy so dark that someone has been killing those who know what's going on. The further he gets into the case, the more he alienates his doctor and girlfriend, Sydney MacMillan (Lehman), and runs afoul of his ally at USAMRIID, Major Lynn Reese (Quarterman).
The second episode, "Lullaby," concerns the abduction of fetuses from young pregnant women. Someone is using surrogate mothers to breed fetuses that spontaneously miscarry at six months. Or do they? As Turner investigates, he uncovers a plot involving a mendacious obstetrician, a couple who are not what they seem and a renegade FBI agent. What Turner discovers is a shocking misuse of the young women's hopes for a baby.
Stories from today's headlines
A limited-run midseason debut, Strange World is based on the proposition that not only is the truth out there, it's pretty scary. As Turner asks Reese in the pilot: "Why are people more afraid of aliens from outer space than they are of the monsters we're creating ourselves?"
The first two episodes offer a smorgasbord of scary pseudo-science drawn from newspapers and books: bio-weapons, mysterious miscarriages, Munchhausen's by proxy syndrome, human cloning, organ harvesting. In all of this, Turner is the key: The tortured central figure in a massive conspiracy to conceal the existence of--well, viewers are not really quite sure what just yet, but it's big.
And if that sounds familiar, it's no accident. Strange World is ABC's latest attempt steal a few folders from The X-Files. It's better than ABC's last X clone--the short-lived Prey, whose main virtue was a somber Debra Messing. This time around, the network apparently decided to go ahead and hire the real deal: former X-Files executive producer Howard Gordon.
In addition to a lot of supporting players, crew and a Vancouver location, Strange World shares The X-Files' moodiness, dark palette, sense of foreboding and paranoia based loosely on very real events and places: the Persian Gulf War, the unidentifiable ailments of Gulf War veterans, the threat of bio-terrorism and the setting of USAMRIID, made famous in the book The Hot Zone.
It also goes out on a severed limb with an uncharacteristic-for-prime-time use of graphic, if fleeting, imagery, apparently an attempt to trump the X-Files' own gross-out factor.
The first two shows are intriguing, if a little slow. For now, the conspiracy is dense and impenetrable, and the use of the mysterious Asian woman seems like an arch device to set the plot in motion. But here and there--as in a scene between Sydney and a frightened mother-to-be, played touchingly by Monet Mazur-- the writing is affecting. And Guinee nicely captures the anguish and panic of his terminally ill character, especially when he's late for his curative fix.
The folly of science has always been fertile territory for SF, and I look forward to less derivative explorations of the subject in the weeks to come. A few laughs wouldn't hurt either. -- P.L.
SciFi.com chat transcript with Howard Gordon, co-creator of Strange World
ChatMod: Howard, can you type to the screen?
ChatMod: Hi everyone, thanks for joining us here. I'm Ben Trumble for SCIFI. Tonight we're pleased to welcome Howard Gordon, producer and creator of Strange World, which aired tonight on SCIFI.
ChatMod: Strange World is the chilling tale of an Army scientist infected with a biological weapon. In order to receive the serum that will keep him alive, he must carry out the wishes of a covert cabal investigating super-science. Mr Gordon's other credits include X-Files, and the inovative FOX series 24.
ChatMod: Brief word about the drill. This is a moderated chat -- please send your questions for our guest to ChatQ, as private messages. (To send a private message, either double-click on ChatQ or type "/msg ChatQ" on the command line - only without the quotes.)
ChatMod: I guess we'll start with the easy question... Tell us a bit about Strange World? What can we expect?
Howard: You can expect twisted takes on the headlines we read about everyday - whether bioterrorism or cloning - and taking certain scenarios to uncomfortable places.
Howard: Sorry. GA
ChatMod: Strange World only aired on ABC for a few weeks. How many episodes did you actually shoot before the network pulled the plug?
Howard: We were actually shooting the last episode when the show premiered - although by then we knew the wind was no longer at our backs. So in some ways it felt like we were dressing a corpse. GA
ChatMod: I guess the question is...Is the idea farfetched, or all too plausible in the near furure?
Howard: Without giving away anything that might spoil the episode - the truth is not far from what we presented. They're cloning liver cells on plastic matrices and have actually implanted them successfully in animals. What's stretching it, perhaps, was the illicit clinic and the mad doctor. But it's a challenge to make this stuff dramatic and scary.
Howard: I'd been a big TG fan for years (from a Showtime piece he did, and from a few indie films) and he'd refused to do TV for several years - so I had to get him.
ChatMod: I guess this is another all too obvious question -- but for those of us who become hooked on 24 -- What similarities does Turner share with Jack in terms of being manipulated?
Howard: The characters are similar, I think, in their straight ahead, undaunted, deadpan reactions to being fucked with and to getting through the situations they're faced with. I think Kiefer has a "cool factor" that Tim doesn't have - though he trumps Kiefer in the earnest/righteous indignation department. GA
ChatMod: Another 24 question...
Howard: Somewhere in between. We had the first seven or eight stories pretty well worked out - and after that, not much more than a general idea of how things connected and where they would wind up. It's kind of like TV jazz improvisation. Hopefully, it looks effortless and thought-out at the same time. ga
Howard: The Gulf War was a then-fairly recent historical event to ground the show - and reports of GWS had become more public. I'd watched a BBC documentary on the subject as I was hatching the idea for the show and I used a lot of what I saw. I knew that I wanted the central character to be something of a science experiment himself - vulnerable and dependent on a cure that doesn't exist. GA
ChatMod: Howard, out of curiosity...Do you see 24's format migrating successfully to other kinds of shows (sit coms, soap operas, police procedurals etc) or is it intrinsically linked to the taut suspense genre?
Howard: That's a great question. I do think the real time aspect of the show is uniquely suited to the thriller/suspense genre - which is often reliant on a "ticking clock." I'm sure there are comic possibilities in real time - though how this would work in a series format is anyone's guess. GA
Howard: Now you're putting me on the spot. My hope was to do a version of the late '70's show, "FAMILY" (Christie MacNichol, Sada Thompson were in the cast). At the time, I was hoping to do a straight ahead, naturalistic drama about what it means to be a family. No one else was much interested in that. So when and if I do a fam. drama, it will need to have some more promotable "hook." I do have a few ideas,though. GA
ChatMod: STATION IDENTIFICATION:
ChatMod: Just a reminder. Were chatting with Howard Gordon, producer and creator of Strange World, which aired tonight on SCIFI. Strange World is the chilling tale of an Army scientist infected with a biological weapon. In order to receive the serum that will keep him alive, he must carry out the wishes of a covert cabal investigating super-science.
ChatMod: This is a moderated chat -- please send your questions for our guest to ChatQ, as private messages. (To send a private message, either double-click on ChatQ or type "/msg ChatQ" on the command line - only without the quotes.)
Howard: I have to say, the original Star Trek never disappoints. Twilight Zone was a masterpiece. So is Terminator (and T2). I also like Fritz Lang's Metropolis. I'm not much of a Bmovie nut, though I think Invaders From Mars is cool. GA
ChatMod: It's amazing how well Metropolis still works
Howard: Is anyone there? GA
ChatMod: Yeah. Did you see the last question?
ChatMod: It was awhile ago :)
Howard: Sorry. It's not u;
Howard: I answered that. Did it not come through?
ChatMod: No, it didn't come through... Let's try another question!
Howard: It's a bit of an exercise in masochism. And 24 had and continues to have its obstacles. The only antidote for the typical corporate fear-based bullshit is an out of the box hit. But that's not so easily done. And shows often require time to grow. ga
Howard: It's Hopper. He'll appear in episode 19 (that's 7:00-8:00) ga
ChatMod: Howard, we know that you're on a tight schedule, so we'll make this the last question.
Howard: I think the ideal continuation would be as a telefilm on sci fi. That would be great.
Howard: Ben, I'm okay to take a few more ?s.
Howard: The UV pilot I'm afraid was a little disappointing - the pieces didn't come together in the way they needed to in order to convince the network to go ahead with the series. I have to say, it was a big disappointment. The British series is one of my favorites and I thought it would be a challenging show to do. ga
Howard: Oh, and Pearse doesn't die. ga
Howard: The pressure is what keeps you going - and what will probably put me in the ground one day. Although I have to say, it's getting easier to deal with stuff when a project or script doesn't come out as well as you'd like. You just have to get up and try again. It sounds simplistic, I know, but it's all you can do, right? ga
Howard: Right now 24 is keeping me busy - and I expect to continue with the show if it gets picked up next year. I'm also starting to get some ideas for pilots next year. It's a little like playing the lottery. ga
Howard: I can't answer that entirely. I really have a fondness for an Xfiles ep I did called Kaddish. It's one I'd been thinking about for a few years and never quite got a handle on, so when I cracked the story, it felt amazing. ga
Howard: I'm ready to take the last one, Ben. Thanks.
ChatMod: Okay. What do hope that SCIFI will take away from Strange World that ABC viewers missed out on?
Howard: Hopefully, by seeing all the eps, people will have a chance to see what we were trying to do. And because we knew we'd probably be a limited run, we wrote a bona fide ending for the series which I think is one of our strongest eps. So it's kind of a mini-series with a real conclusion. Thanks everyone for watching the show!!! GA
ChatMod: Thanks Howard for a fun chat. We'll open the floor now. For those of you who missed the 8PM airing, episode 1 of Strange World is showing again at 11PM ET. Good night everybody.
Found here via The Wayback Machine.
(Sci-Fi Drama Series -- ABC; Mon. March 8, 10 p.m.)
By RAY RICHMOND
Filmed in Vancouver, B.C. by Teakwood Lane Prods. in association with Twentieth Century Fox TV. Executive producer, Howard Gordon; co-executive producer, Manny Coto; supervising producer, Harvey Frand; director, Mick Jackson; writers, Gordon, Tim Kring
Paul Turner - Tim Guinee
Dr. Sydney MacMillan - Kristin Lehman
Major Lynne Reese - Saundra Quarterman
Japanese Woman - Vivian Wu
With: Michael Moriarty, Bill Sage, Arnold Vosloo, Sarah-Jane Redmond, William MacDonald, Michael Mantell, Sheila Moore, John Finn.
The disturbingly derivative "Strange World" illustrates what "The X-Files" might have played like had it revolved around Gulf War Syndrome rather than the supernatural -- paranormal, meet paranoia -- which isn't necessarily a solid foundation on which to build an action series. Remember how "X-Files" had Cancer Man? This humdrum thriller introduces us early on to Japanese Woman. You know your show is already in trouble when one of the lead characters boasts a generic cultural handle. It's rather like dubbing Dennis Franz's alter ego on "NYPD Blue" as Fat Guy. Not a lot of originality there.
It helps little that this mysterious, Deep Throat-esque operative with the Asian roots is almost comically mock-sinister as portrayed by Vivian Wu. She seems to be all-knowing and all-powerful. Yet if she's such a smarty-pants, why the heck can't she do anything about the Japanese economy, huh? Apparently, when you're embroiled in the kind of massive bureaucratic conspiracy that drives "Strange World," you don't have much time left to rescue your country from the throes of financial Armageddon.
The core plot involves a former Army scientist named Paul Turner (Tim Guinee) who was exposed to some horrendous toxic chemical in Iraq in 1991 while serving as an Army scientist during the Persian Gulf War. Exposure killed most of the servicemen and women pretty much instantly. But for some puzzling reason, Turner and one other guy live on nearly seven years later, though the degenerative illness wracks his body with sores and sweats and fatigue.
Just when it seems that the disease might finally be winning, however, Turner -- now living in Baltimore -- is clandestinely slipped a drug by the enigmatic Japanese Woman that gives him a series of temporary reprieves when it's shot into his veins heroin-style. It's not immediately clear why this woman wants to keep Turner alive, or where she got the drug, or what it is, or whose side she is on. Only one thing is clear: whenever she runs into Turner, the lighting goes bad. In her case, shadowy is more than a mere adjective.
Racing against his own mortality, Turner careens about seeking clues to his disease -- initially misdiagnosed as aplastic anemia. Instead, he finds out from a military friend (Saundra Quarterman) that the Army wants him back in the fold to work at an institute on some amorphous research project. But the only person Turner can truly trust is his girlfriend Dr. Sydney MacMillan (Kristin Lehman) -- perhaps because she's a doctor without an evident tie to an HMO?
Roughly halfway through the uneven premiere penned by co-creators Howard Gordon and Tim Kring, the focus shifts to a woman whose son was allegedly kidnapped and killed. Except that while the kid in the morgue looks exactly like her son, the DNA doesn't match. It's the twin he apparently never knew he had, courtesy of some strange and underhanded cloning therapy fostered by evildoers, using people as human incubators.
By the final 20 minutes of the pilot, the show's shortcomings become painfully clear. Everyone whom Turner encounters becomes transparently sinister, and helmer Mick Jackson allows his performers to utter their lines as hand-tipping declarations rather than speech. That grows still more obvious in a complicated second seg in which a pregnant woman's unborn baby is proven to be the result of some whacked-out government fertilization plan. In other words, the truth is no longer out there but "in there."
It's hard to envision where "Strange World" will travel from here as it weaves a scenario in which it's left to one scientist with a battle-related illness to save mankind from itself. But as long as Japanese Woman is around, at least there is a guarantee of some ethnic diversity. Tech credits are fine save for lighting that appears to have suffered from budget cutbacks.
Camera, Peter Wunstorf; production designer, Lance King; editor, Lori Jane Coleman; music, Michael Hoenig; sound, David Husby; casting, Coreen Mayrs, Heike Brandstatter. 60 MIN.
scriggle posted Strange World: Lullaby picspam here.
Strange World Wikipedia page
The Unofficial Tim Guinee website
Strange World is not commercially available.