Action Pack (TV programming block)

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Action Pack
Universal Action Pack screenshot.png
via syndication
LaunchedJanuary 17, 1994 (1994-01-17)
Closed2001 (2001)
Country of originUnited States
OwnerMCA (1994-1996)
Seagram (1996-2000)
Vivendi (2000-2001)
Sister networkUniversal Family Network
Running time2 hours

Action Pack, also called Universal Action Pack,[1] was a syndicated programming block series of television movies and television series created by Universal Television that aired 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).


Previously, there were three attempts by MCA TV/Universal Television to launch some sort of organized independent programming. First, MCA TV launched the ad hoc movie Universal Pictures Debut Network in 1985.[2] With Premier Program Service, MCA TV teamed up with Paramount for this planned network by October 1989 which was abandoned in February 1990. The last was a two night three-series Hollywood Premiere Network in 1990-91.[3]


In 1994, the Action Pack initially ran as a Wheel series of television movies, which were all effective pilots as if successful they would then become TV series in the following season.[4][5] The initial plan was for 4 films created from 6 franchises for the block including TekWar, Smokey and the Bandit, Midnight Run, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Vanishing Son and the working title Fastlane when offered at programming executive conference in January 1994.[4][1]

On January 17 and 18, 1994, a dozen stations showed TekWar, the premiere TV movie of the programming block. The stations' ratings increased greatly with a 350% increase in KOFY in San Francisco. MCA cut Rob Cohen's Midnight Run to three films, so that star Christopher McDonald could star in a feature film. Cohen produced Knight Rider 2010 as a replacement.[1] The block aired its first season until January 1995 and lost $30 million.[3] TekWar was picked up as a regular TV series for the USA Network instead of Action Pack, starting in January 1995.[6]

From January to June 1995, the series included Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Vanishing Son with the Hercules series, becoming a surprise hit as the third most watched first-run syndicated action hour.[3] From September 1995 through January 2000, it included the Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and its spinoff, Xena: Warrior Princess.[5][7] After Hercules ended its run in January 2000, the Universal Action Pack launched the Back2Back Action Hour consisting of two thirty-minute series: Jack of All Trades and Cleopatra 2525[8] to air alongside Xena. The lineup lasted until second quarter 2001. Jack of All Trades and Xena were canceled and Cleopatra 2525 was increased to an hour long show in January 2001.[9]

After Xena, the most successful series on the Action Pack, completed airing its final season's reruns in the summer of 2001,[9] Cleopatra 2525 also stopped production and the Action Pack block was discontinued.

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):[6]

  • Tekwar
  • TekLords
  • Teklab
  • TekJustice, an original story

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

Bandit films (Spin-offs of the Smokey and the Bandit films):

  • Bandit Goes Country
  • Bandit Bandit
  • Beauty and the Bandit
  • Bandit's Silver Angel[5]

Vanishing Son films:

  • Vanishing Son I
  • Vanishing Son II
  • Vanishing Son III
  • Vanishing Son IV[5]

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.

An additional movie was a part of the initial lineup, titled Fastlane was set to be directed by John Landis and would concern two friends finding a spaceship/car hybrid vehicle.[4] However, for unknown reasons the project never actually made it to air. The "shell" prop for the spaceship/car (which was designed to fit over a Pontiac Fiero) was auctioned off in 2007.

  • Knight Rider 2010 (1994)[1]
  • The Adventures of Captain Zoom (December 9, 1995)[10]
  • Beastmaster III: The Eye of Braxus (May 24th, 1996)
  • Atlantis: The Lost Continent, first shown on a Starz/Encore network channel in March 1997 before being run on Action Pack as a pilot TV film in August 1997.[11] When it finally aired it was known as Escape From Atlantis.[12]


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.

Carrying stations[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Benson, Jim (January 20, 1994). "'Action' packs wallop, gives markets a boost". Variety. Cahners Business Information. Retrieved June 9, 2017.
  2. ^ Kerry Segrave (January 1, 1999). Movies at Home: How Hollywood Came to Television. McFarland & Company. p. 147. ISBN 9780786406548. Retrieved April 8, 2015 – via Google Books.
  3. ^ a b c "MCA TV Spins The Bottle". Variety. Cahners Business Information. April 10, 1995. Retrieved April 6, 2017.
  4. ^ a b c d Cerone, Daniel (January 16, 1994). "Television : There's Action Off the Beaten Path : The ground is shifting in TV's prime time as a slew of new shows arrive--but don't go looking for them in the usual places". Los Angeles Times. Times Mirror Company. pp. 1–2. Retrieved June 8, 2017.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Mysteries Surrounding the Creation of the Syndicated Television Show XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS Whoosh Online Edition. Issue Three. November 1996.
  6. ^ a b Garcia, Frank; Phillips, Mark (March 28, 2012). Science Fiction Television Series, 1990–2004: Histories, Casts and Credits for 58 Shows. McFarland & Company. p. 326. ISBN 9780786491834. Retrieved June 9, 2017 – via Google Books.
  7. ^ Bevis King's Xena: Warrior Princess website Archived December 24, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ a b c d Owen, Rob (January 21, 2000). "On the Tube: The ratings dropped with her golden locks - WB says grow it back". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Block Communications. Retrieved June 9, 2017.
  9. ^ a b c "Xena Canceled". ABC News. Disney-ABC Television Group. October 17, 2000. Retrieved June 9, 2017.
  10. ^ a b c d Johnson, Allan (December 3, 1995). "Mission On Planet Pangea Full Of Sci-fi Schtick". Chicago Tribune. Tribune Publishing. Retrieved June 9, 2017.
  11. ^ Ryan, Tim (November 4, 1996). "Honolulu Star-Bulletin Features". Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Gannett Company. Retrieved June 9, 2017.
  12. ^ "Escape from Atlantis (film)", Wikipedia, 2018-12-23, retrieved 2019-01-18