Sunday, February 22, 2015

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Sheena (2000)

I had never seen Irish McCalla's Sheena, Queen of the Jungle, a 50's adventure series that had left syndication while I was but a wee lad. However, at the turn of the century, Sheena would return, with a total makeover.

Gena Lee Nolin (ex-Baywatch) landed the title role in this version, which went a few steps further than McCalla's, in that Sheena spoke perfect English, and, having been raised by a female shaman, was also given shapeshifting powers that came in handy when needing to escape the bad guys or confront them. Not only that, but Sheena also had an alter-ego, as "The Drak'ona", a magical being who roamed at night. To effect this disguise, Sheena would bathe in dark, liquid mud. I ain't making this up. The way Nolin was photographed in these scenes suggested that the dark mud hid something else entirely----the prospect of Sheena-as-Drak'ona being nude. Don't hold me to that, though.

Anyway, there was another Baywatch link. Doug Schwartz, whose last series, Thunder in Paradise with Hulk Hogan & Chris Lemmon, also lasted two seasons, was the show-runner here, with Sony handling distribution. In all, 35 episodes were produced, and can be had online via Sony's Crackle service or on Hulu. Nolin became an executive producer herself around the 2nd season.

Right now, let's scope out "The Children of the Lamistas":

I'm begging Sony, or whomever has the rights now, to do an animated version, with either Nolin or another actress in the title role, but with her powers from the last series intact. You know there's an audience for that.

Rating: B+.


Samuel Wilson said...

I watched the show from beginning to end. It didn't live up to its potential to combine comic-book action to the drama of African conflict, but its main handicap was timing. It appeared at a time when original syndicated drama was starting to die from lack of markets -- indy stations now preferred taking money to run infomercials -- and before the CW and cable networks provided safe havens for genre shows. It might have lasted longer a decade later, but it would have needed to be a better and bigger show.

hobbyfan said...

It was the last of a dying breed, Sam. As I recall, it wasn't that well promoted locally, either.