Nick Slaughter
Created by Sam Egan

I can't believe I used to watch this...

Originally broadcast as part of CBS's (pre-Letterman) Crime Time After Prime Time series back in the nineties, Sweating Bullets featured enough cleavage in its opening credits to (almost) pass itself off as an Aaron Spelling Production. But it didn't quite make it. That pretty much sets the tone for this teasy, cheesy late night series.

Hunky Rob Stewart hams it up as NICK SLAUGHTER (really!), a pony-tailed, open Hawaiian-shirted, ex-Mountie and ex-DEA agent (huh?) turned reluctant private eye in Key Mariah in, allegedly, the Florida Keys.

Thing is, Nick'd really rather do anything but work. Especially if it involved women. Only his long-suffering, common-sense secretary and office manager (and later, business partner) Sylvie Girard kept him from bankruptcy. Aiding and abetting Nick in his interuptions (ooops! investigations) was his bleached-blonde beach bimbo and former Aussie rock star Ian.

It certainly had an international flavor. Originally backed by Canadian and Mexican money, and filmed in Mexico, it became a Canadian/Israeli production in the second season, and was filmed in Eilat, Israel. Season three was at least partially shot in South Africa. Which might explain the mountains occasionally glimpsed in the background of what was supposedly still the Florida Keys.

A guilty pleasure? A relatively harmless piece of fluff, in the Hawaiian Eye vein? A cynical attempt to cash in on the then just recently cancelled Moonlighting? A tax write-off by a bunch of international money men hoping to cash in? Or was it, perhaps, the shape of things to come, a predecessor to shows like Baywatch, which in retrospect seem almost Shakespearean in comparison.

At the time, I enjoyed it. I must have -- I tuned in every week. But a recent viewing of a 1996 straight-to-disk movie, Crisscross, possibly cobbled together from a couple of the later episodes, was like being doused with a bucket if ice water.

I couldn't believe how awkward and ill conceived it all seemed, or how utterly mismatched the two leads seemed, possessing all the sizzle and chemistry of wet cardboard. The plot made little sense, motivations came and went, the only consistency was a sort of ineptitude alternately horrifying and hilarious to watch. For me, this cheese had finally reached its expiration date.

Was Crisscross a poor representation of a show I used to watch faithfully, or an accurate sample of how I used to waste my time. If the latter, then I have to ask myself:

What the hell was I thinking?

* * * * *

And that was that. Or at least so I thought.

In the strange world of syndication, anything can happen. In the mid-nineties, the now renamed Tropical Heat began to be sold internationally and proved to be a huge, inexplicable hit in war-torn Serbia. Its simple, cheesy escapism provided a welcome respite from the daily atrocities of authoritarian rule under Slobodan Miloöevi, a crumbling economy and mass arrests. And then it took an even weirder hop, and the simple escapism became something more -- a symbol of rebellion. Graffiti began to appear on walls, suggesting "Nick Slaughter for President," and Serbian punk band Atheist Rap penned a song about "Nik Sloter." The show's popularity soared.

All this occurred unbeknownst to Canadian actor Rob Stewart, who had moved from Los Angeles back to the Toronto suburb of Brampton, Ontario, and was still toiling in obscurity, paying the bills, raising a son.

His discovery that he was a star -- at least in Serbia -- prompted an engaging little 2012 documentary, Slaughter Nick for President, that traced his trip to Serbia where he was mobbed by adoring crowds.

As the good-natured, Stewart puts it right at the beginning, "Andy Warhol said we'd all be famous for fifteen minutes. I was famous for fifteen years, and didn't even know it."

TELEVISION

............

  • SWEATING BULLETS,. Buy the complete series on DVD
    (aka "Tropical Heat")
    (1991-93, Syndicated)
    66 60-minute episodes
    Created by Sam Egan
    Writers: Tim Burns, Scott Gemmil
    Directors: Timothy Bond, Mario Azzopardi
    Executive Producers: JAndras Hamorn and Susan Cavan
    Starring Rob Stewart as NICK SLAUGHTER
    and Carolyn Dunn as Sylvia Girard
    Also starring
    John David Bland, Pedro Armendarez, Eugene Clark
  • Season One ,. Buy this on DVD
  • "Hard Case" (April 8, 1991)
  • "Fowl Play" (April 15, 1991)
  • "Death's a Beach (pilot)" (April 22, 1991)
  • "Family Affair" (April 29, 1991)
  • "Roll of the Dice" (May 6, 1991)
  • "Double Time" (May 13, 1991)
  • "Forget Me Not" (May 20, 1991)
  • "For a Song" (May 27, 1991)
  • "Marissa" (June 3, 1991)

  • Season Two,. Buy this on DVD
  • "The Mariah Connection" (September 9, 1991)
  • "Mafia Mistress" (September 16, 1991)
  • "A Perfect .38" (September 23, 1991)
  • "Dead Men Tell" (September 30, 1991)
  • "Big Brother is Watching" (October 9, 1991)
  • "This Year's Model" (October 14, 1991)
  • "Writer Wrong" (October 21, 1991)
  • "Runaway" (October 28, 1991)
  • "Sex, Lies and Lullabies" (November 9, 1991)
  • "She" (November 11, 1991)
  • "Tara, Tara, Tara" (November 18, 1991)
  • "Abandoned" (November 25, 1991)
  • "Deceit" (February 24, 1992)
  • "Party Girl" (April 13, 1992)
  • "Double Fault" (April 20, 1992)
  • "Alive and Kicking" (April 27, 1992)
  • "Tattooed Lady" (May 4, 1992)
  • "Users" (May 11, 1992)
  • "Frame Up" (May 18, 1992)
  • "Going to the Dogs" (May 25, 1992)
  • "Dial 9 for Murder" (June 1, 1992)

  • Season Three,. Buy this on DVD
  • "Twice as Dead" (September 14, 1992)
  • "Deadly Switch (Part One)" (September 28, 1992)
  • "Deadly Switch (Part Two)" (October 5, 1992)
  • "Over My Dead Body" (October 12, 1992)
  • "White Hot" (October 26, 1992)
  • "Stranger in Paradise" (November 9, 1992)
  • "The Pro & the Con" (November 16, 1992)
  • "Don't Say Nothin' Bad About My Baby" (November 23, 1992)
  • "Ocean Park" (November 30, 1992)
  • "Jack of Diamonds" (December 7, 1992)
  • "His Pal Joey" (February 8, 1993)
  • "Grasping at Shadows" (February 15, 1993)
  • "The Last of the Magnificent" (February 22, 1993)
  • "The Patsy" (March 14, 1993)
  • "May Divorce Be with You" (May 3, 1993)
  • "Feedback" (May 10, 1993)
  • "Basic Black" (May 17, 1993)
  • "Born Tomorrow" (May 24, 1993)
  • "Object of Desire" (May 31, 1993)
  • "Royal Pain" (June 7, 1993)
  • "Poison Ivy" (June 14, 1993)
  • "Massage in a Bottle" (June 21, 1993)
  • "Mutiny and the Bounty" (June 28, 1993)
  • "Seen at the Crime" (July 5, 1993)
  • "You Stole My Heart" (July 11, 1993)
  • "Gun Shy" (July 19, 1993)
  • "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" (July 26, 1993)
  • "Spider's Tale" (August 2, 1993)
  • "Turning Screws" (August 9, 1993)
  • "Tess" (August 16, 1993)
  • "Deal of a Lifetime" (August 23, 1993)
  • "Katie's Secret" (September 13, 1993)
  • "Slummin' It" (September 20, 1993)
  • "Man with the Midas Touch" (September 27, 1993)
  • "Forbidden Fruit" (October 4, 1993)
  • "Smut and Nothin' But" (October 18, 1993)

FILMS

  • CRISS CROSS,. Buy this on DVD
    (1996, Tango Entertainment)
    Created by Sam Egan
    Written by Vince Grittani and Dan Horowitz
    Directors: Timothy Bond, Mario Azzopardi
    Starring Rob Stewart as NICK SLAUGHTER
    and Carolyn Dunn as Sylvia Girard
    Also starring
    Ari Sorko-Ram, Cynthia Belliveau, Ingrid Lacey, Robert Wisden

  • SLAUGHTER NICK FOR PRESIDENT
    (2012)
    Documentary
    Written by Rob Stewart & Marc Vespi
    Directed by Rob Stewart, Liza Vespi & Marc Vespi
    Produced by Liza Vespi
    Featuring the music of Atheist Rap
    Starring Rob Stewart, Marc Vespi, Milos Djuricic, Srdja Popovic, John Stewart

Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.


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