Action Pack (television)

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This article is about the Universal Television programming block. For the Marvel superhero team, see Action Pack (comics).
Action Pack
Type Syndicated television programming block
Country  United States
Owner MCA/Universal (1994-1998)
Studios USA (1998-2001)
Launch date
1994
Dissolved 2001

Action Pack is series of television movies and television series created by Universal Television that aired in syndication from 1994 until 2001. The Action Pack included two hours of various television series produced by Renaissance Pictures and distributed by MCA TV (later known as Universal Television Enterprises and Studios USA Television Distribution).

Series history[edit]

Following an abortive one-season attempt by Universal Television to offer a three-series Hollywood Premiere Network[1] in 1990-91, in 1994, the Action Pack initially ran a series of television movies, which led to the run of several television shows the following year.[2] From January-June 1995, the series included Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Vanishing Son.[3] From September 1995 through January 2000, it included the Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and its spinoff, Xena: Warrior Princess.[2][4] After Hercules ended its run in January 2000, the Universal Action Pack launched the Back2Back Action Hour and picked up two thirty minute series: Jack of All Trades and Cleopatra 2525 to air alongside Xena.[5] The lineup lasted until January 2001. For the final six months of the package, Jack of All Trades was dropped and Cleopatra 2525 was increased to an hour long show.

After Xena, the most successful series on the Action Pack, completed airing its final season's reruns in the summer of 2001, Cleopatra 2525 also stopped production and the Action Pack series was discontinued.

Many of the stations that aired the Action Pack also aired Warner Bros.' Prime Time Entertainment Network.

Television movies[edit]

The television movies aired during the Action Pack's first year included:

Hercules series:

TekWar (Based on the books by William Shatner):

The US broadcasts came 7 – 10 days ahead of those in Canada, on January 17, 1994 and January 25, 1994, respectively. TekWar was a ratings success, with some US stations reporting an increase of 44% compared to the same timeslot in November.[6] This success prompted CTV and Universal to commission eighteen hour-long episodes.[7] While the series continued on CTV in Canada, Universal moved the series to USA Network.

The show's second season premiered on CTV on December 22, 1994 and on USA on January 7, 1995. The season premiered strongly, scoring a 3.4 rating, which at the time was the highest rated premiere in the history of basic cable.[8] As time went viewership declined in both Canada and the United States with the season's fourth episode ("Promises To Keep") only attracting 600-700,000 viewers on CTV.[9] Ratings continued to slide during the season. [10] USA Network canceled the series on June 13, 1995. Due to a simulcast agreement, both CTV and USA Network pulled the series from their respective schedules shortly after airing the season's fourteenth episode ("Forget Me Not") on July 1, 1995, leaving four episodes unaired.

The Sci Fi Channel, a corporate sibling of USA Network, subsequently purchased the rights to rebroadcast the series and began airing the series in late 1995. In early 1996, as the Sci Fi Channel was about to begin broadcasting the four unaired episodes in the United States, CTV announced they would air the remaining episodes of TekWar. The four unaired episodes began airing on CTV and Sci Fi Channel on January 20, 1996 and concluded on CTV on February 9, 1996 and on the Sci Fi Channel on February 10, 1996.

Midnight Run films (Spin-offs of the 1988 Robert De Niro film):

Bandit films (Based on the Smokey and the Bandit films):

  • Bandit: Bandit's Silver Angel
  • Bandit Goes Country
  • Bandit Bandit
  • Beauty and the Bandit[2]

Vanishing Son films:

  • Vanishing Son
  • Vanishing Son II
  • Vanishing Son III
  • Vanishing Son IV[2]

Starting as a series of four made for television movies in 1994, the series debuted on January 16, 1995. Vanishing Son I, Vanishing Son II, Vanishing Son III, and Vanishing Son IV, were aired on February 28, July 18, July 25, and October 10, 1994, respectively. The series was ground-breaking for the casting of an Asian male in an attractive leading-man role.

Knight Rider film:

Theme song[edit]

The theme song is used in the Action Pack opening sequence, sponsorships, as well as the full version of the theme used in promos for the TV movies. The theme was composed by Velton Ray Bunch.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Hollywood Premiere Network was an early attempt by Universal Television to create an ad hoc syndication network. Although not a "real" network with affiliates and the like, they were ahead of their time and would have better success with the Universal Action Pack later in the 1990s. The series aired in many of the stations that would later become either UPN or WB affiliates. She-Wolf of London premiered along with two other shows, Shades of L.A. and They Came from Outer Space on October 9, 1990
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Mysteries Surrounding the Creation of the Syndicated Television Show XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS Whoosh Online Edition. Issue Three. November 1996.
  3. ^ IMDB Vanshing Son Plot Summary
  4. ^ Bevis King's Xena: Warrior Princess website
  5. ^ After Hercules, Rob Tapert takes on Cleopatra By Patrick Lee. SciFi.com. January 24, 2000.
  6. ^ Stevenson, Jennifer (January 24, 1994). "Ch. 44 answers the call to action Series". St. Petersburg Times (Florida). Retrieved December 23, 2011. 
  7. ^ Witchel, Alex (November 23, 1994). "AT LUNCH WITH: William Shatner; Contemplating Death and the Sequel". New York Times. Retrieved December 23, 2011. 
  8. ^ Brown, Rich (January 16, 1995). "Good launch for 'TekWar'. (USA Network reports high viewer ratings for premiere episode of 'TekWar' television show)". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved December 23, 2011. 
  9. ^ Adilman, Sid (January 16, 1995). "TekWar: wrong night or the wrong time?". Toronto Star. Retrieved December 23, 2011. 
  10. ^ Mendoza, N.F. (April 7, 1995). "EVIGAN JUGGLES SHOW, MUSIC, FAMILY". Sun Sentinel. Retrieved December 23, 2011.