Frank Taylor
Created by Rick Ramage & Andrew Cosby

An almost honest-to-goodness P.I. show, UPN's Haunted starred Matthew Fox as FRANK TAYLOR, a private eye who specialized in finding missing children and -- after a near-death experience -- began to "see dead people."

Four years ago, Frank had a job (police officer), a wife (Jessica) and a son (Kevin). But that was then, and this is now. Now, Frank is "haunted" by disturbing memories of Kevin, who was abducted and never found. And his job and his marriage have both gone down the tubes, too. Plagued by guilt over Kevin's disappearance, and his inability to prevent it, he's become a private eye, living hand to mouth and case to case, throwing himself into his work. Hired to track down another abducted child, Frank tussles with a suspect named Simon, who he is forced to kill to save himself. But Frank is left on the brink of death, and indeed, as the doctors work frantically to save him, he is a near-death experience (complete with dim lights and Kevin).

As Frank slowly recovers, he discovers that he's now really haunted -- he starts to receive messages from beyond the grave, from both benevolent spirits who wish to help him solve his cases and from Simon, the man he killed, Simon. Unfortunately, Simon, a nasty piece of work, living OR dead, isn't quite as helpful, frequently misleading Frank and otherwise diverting him.

When I saw the first episode of Haunted, I thought that in many ways it was similar to Hack, another P.I. show also making its debut at the time -- it too, had impressive production values, a dark vibe and a guilt-ridden , divorced dad trying to work out his angst (or exorcise his demons, if you will) by rescuing a child. But I wondered how far they could stretch Haunted's Dead Zone vibe before it collapses under its own solemn, joyless pretensions. The first show was very good, genuinely frightening at some points, but the pop-up ghost gimmick was already annoying by the end of the show, yet Simon is supposed to be a regular. It would have been far better to downplay the supernatural, and play it as a straight P.I. series, albeit perhaps with the detective suffering from an occasional troubling vision that he can't quite explain. Let him do actual detective work and not count on too much help from the beyond, or this series will wear out pretty damn fast.

And, to tell the truth, Haunted bore a thematic resemblance to a show I used to watch and enjoy very much, a Canadian show called Seeing Things, which featured a bumbling, not very bright but lovably flawed reporter who also had visions, which of course, nobody believed. Because the show was played for laughs, and because the lead, Louis DelGrande (who also wrote and directed) was such a delight to watch, Haunted inevitably suffered by comparison. When you've spent several memorable hours laughing at a concept, it's hard to take a subsequent oh-so-solemn drama based on the same idea too seriously. And that's the real problem with Haunted -- it was so damn relentlessly bleak, and ultimately even Frank wasn't all that appealling.

Which may explain why only seven episodes were aired, the remaining four episodes finally making their appearance on the DVD collection eight years later.

UNDER OATH

  • "I watched Haunted last night (and) I really won't like it if that one bad guy ghost is going to be chasing him around every week, I'm already sick of him. I will give it another chance to see how they go on from here but it has to get better and they do have to leave that bad guy ghost out for me. Seems to me there are plenty of other bad ghosts out there that they can use, LOL."
    -- Sylvia Matthews, on CrimeScene, September 25, 2002
    .
  • "(Haunted ) stars Matthew Fox as a private eye who, ever since a near-death experience, has been able to communicate with the dead about his cases. The dead, it turns out, don't always tell the truth, and they're big on symbols."
    -- John Leonard

TELEVISION

  • HAUNTED.. Buy the complete series on DVD.
    (2002, UPN)
    Created by Rick Ramage & Andrew Cosby
    Writers:
    Rick Ramage & Andrew Cosby, Erin Maher & Kay Reindl
    Directors: Michael Rymer, Jeffrey Reiner
    Produced by Industry Entertainment Production, in association with Viacom Productions and CBS Productions.
    Executive producers: Emile Levisetti, Keith Addis, Scott Shepherd
    Co-executive producer: Rick Ramage
    Supervising producer: Andrew Cosby
    Starring
    Matthew Fox as FRANK TAYLOR
    With Russell Hornsby as Marcus Bradshaw

    Lynn Collins as Jessica Manning
    Michael Irby as Dante
    and John Mann as Simon
    Guest stars:
    Rebekah Hoyle, Kristina Anapau, Nancy Sorel, Sharon Braithwaite, Bree Michael Warner
  • Pilot (September 24, 2002)
  • "Grievous Angels" (October 1, 2002)
  • "Fidelity" (October 8, 2002)
  • "Abby" (October 15, 2002)
  • "Blind Witness" (October 22, 2002)
  • "Nocturne" (October 29, 2002)
  • "Three Hour Tour" (November 5, 2002)
  • "Nexus" (unaired)
  • "Simon Redux" (unaired)
  • "Last Call" (unaired)
  • "Seeking Asylum" (unaired)

RELATED LINKS

  • Haunted
    The official site, by UPN.

Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.


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