Nicholas Orton (played by Thomas Gibson) is an American businessman who has lived in China for several years. He has a chance encounter with a beautiful Chinese lady (played by Bai Ling) who says that he is the only one who can save the world from reverting five-hundred years. He is unswayed by this until many modern buildings begin disappearing before his eyes. This mystical lady (revealed later as Guanyin, the bodhisattva of compassion) transports him to a portal which offers entrance, through the teachings of Confucius (played by Ric Young), to the ancient Chinese underworld.
When Nicholas Orton (soon to be named The Scholar From Above) reaches the other side of the portal, he finds that his studies of Confucius will come in handy for the path that lies ahead. Nicholas Orton's first action is to rescue Sun Wukong the Monkey King from the mountain which he has been imprisoned in for centuries. Sun Wukong (the Monkey King or Monkey Emperor) travels with Nicholas Orton in his quest to save the original manuscript of Journey to the West from destruction. They are later joined by Zhu Bajie (Pigsy) and Sha Wujing (Friar Sand) to help them on the way.
Robert Bianco of USA Today called it "silly and confused." Variety called it "tedious" and said "all the strong technical work comes across as the outer shell of an empty nut." 
The Ratings were poor it recorded one of the lowest ratings ever for a miniseries on NBC. Critics said it was due to oversaturation of Robert Halmi Jr. special effects driven miniseries that started successful but went downhill.