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Pilot Error: ‘The Edge’ of The Obscure

This Pilot Error we are going to look at something pretty damn different than what has come before. This time we are going to look at a pilot series. What the hell is a pilot series? Is it a pilot or a series? It’s both.

Back in the 80’s pay cable channels like HBO and Showtime didn’t have even close to the same kind of budgets or status that they have today. The pay TV landscape was quite a different place back in the 80’s. Original programming mainly consisted of anthology shows or other half hour works such as the football dramedy First and Ten, the Bill Maher sitcom Hard Knocks, or the horror anthology The Hitchhiker,  along with Ray Bradbury Theater.

These could be made on the cheap and they offered something original to subscribers without the need for large outlays like we have today. Sometimes these efforts grew into veritable franchises like Tales from the Crypt or Not Necessarily the News, and sometimes they faded into obscurity such as the entry this week, The Edge.

the-edge-logo

The Edge was a pilot series in that at this time what HBO would do would be produce a 3 episode run of a series, air that (endlessly) for a few months and see how people reacted to it before deciding to move on with new episodes. Ray Bradbury Theater and The Hitchhiker both started out in such a manner with 3 episode first seasons and both of those shows went on to spawn multiple seasons of programing. So in essence these are pilots that happen to consist of 3 episodes. Clear?

The Edge is one that didn’t get the same treatment as those what came before it and was fairly obscure even as a pilot series to the point that it doesn’t even have a real IMDB entry (more on that later).

Around 1989 HBO was tiring of it’s existing shows as it had just lost Ray Bradbury Theater and “The Hitchhiker” to the USA network and “First and Ten” along with Not Necessarily the News were about to be canceled while Tales from the Crypt was still not greenlit yet (let not forgot the Really Weird Tales experiment they tried in this period either).

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The Hitchhiker was a huge success for the network so they went and hired that shows creator Lewis Chesler to essentially make a spin-off and that was The Edge.

Of the 3 episodes of The Edge that were made I only have 2.

As I stated previously this is a VERY obscure show. The 3 episodes were “Indian Poker”, “The Professional” and “Black Pudding”. I only have the first 2 of these. In all my time as a professional video trafficker I have yet to come across that last one. Also I want note and be clear here, this is not to be confused with the 1992 Fox comedy series The Edge, different show, which also oddly consisted of only 3 episodes.

So with this being a kind of sort of maybe not really spin-off of The Hitchhiker it needed a host character and that was The Watcher.

“We think we are safe… we are not. We think there is order… there is not. I am the watcher, at the edge.” That started off each episode and The Watcher was played by Barry Sattels, another veteran of a single episode of every 80’s TV show ever.

Being an anthology The Watcher intros were the only linking concept between stories other than that the theme (of the 2 I have) are people being pushed to the titular edge.

poker06The first is “Indian Poker” and it has an amazing cast. Rutger Hauer, Michael Rooker, Billy McNamara and this relatively unknown newcomer named Patricia Arquette.

The plot as summarized on Hauer’s website:

“It’s a story pushed to the edge. A cop, Abel, on night patrol with other two fellow cops, stops a young boy and his girlfriend in their car and rapes the girl.

He is going to show in this way to his fellow cops what he had said once, that “you know what’s going to happen but you have to watch” – this also happens when a junky breaks into a store and they do not stop him straightaway, but instead, they bet on the fact that he is going to steal Demarol.

At the end, the young man revenges her girlfriend’s rape by shooting Abel, and his two partners don’t try to stop the boy.”

I can’t sum it much better so there.

fonda-the-edge“The Professional Man” has an equally impressive cast with Christian Slater, Bridget Fonda and Dann Florek. The plot is that Slater is a hitman for Florek (a sleazy titty bar owner) and Slater prides himself on being the fastest and most efficient strangler in the game, he is also dating stripper Fonda. Florek wants her, gets Slater to leave her and then things… go bad for all of them. Lets leave it at that.

These are very well shot shows for what is obviously a low budget but they are strangely edited in that they were made for HBO and feature lots of swears and boobs and yet have commercial fades every 8 minutes like they were also made to be aired on commercial television. Very odd. They compensate for that low budget with stellar acting and a valid use of colored lighting to make everything seem larger in scope (Joe Dante once said “Color is the cheapest special effect there is”).

HBO was obviously not impressed and The Edge never went to series (so to speak, you know what I mean) and it’s unclear why they went and buried the 3 episodes so deep that IMDB doesn’t even list them.

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If you look at the pages for the respective actors you can see The Edge listed as TV movie with all of the actors jumbled together and the official websites for Hauer and Arquette both list “Indian Poker” as a TV movie. Combine that there is next to NO information out there on this show (I had to piece what I have together from old TV listings and references in magazines from the time) and you have a pilot series.

The final film/pilot was called “Black Pudding” and starred  Brad Davis, Kelly Lynch, Kenny Hilda, Ron Gilbert, Robert Mangiardi, Jeremy Roberts, and Lee Weaver.  Davis plays an ex-prisoner seeking revenge on his former boss and unfaithful ex-wife (Lynch).

Also on this IMDB issue is of The Hitchhiker. It’s listed there as Deadly Nightmares yet it’s always been called The Hitchhiker and it’s copyright is even The Hitchhiker.

Who the fuck ever saw that show as Deadly Nightmares?

Also it was not about nightmares at all. What the fuck?

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