American Gothic: The TV Series
By Jessica Dwyer
Even though I have written about American Gothic in the past in a “Gone But Not Forgotten” article, I felt that a reminder of the awesome series was needed this Halloween season. It’s double due since we have a new Sam Raimi series starting in the guise of Ash Vs The Evil Dead.
American Gothic aired for one season back in the mid 90’s on CBS. The series was ahead of its time in regards to surreal and sexy horror on TV. These days it would be the sort of perfect fit for networks like FX and AMC. It was the brain child of Bob Tapert and Sam Raimi and was produced by Shaun Cassidy who also wrote some of the episodes.
The series told the story of a supernaturally powerful Sheriff by the name of Lucas Buck (that’s Buck with a B) played by Gary Cole who rules the town of Trinity with a slick smile and a menacing glare. Lucas could be the devil…or just a really powerful warlock…or something else. We never know what he is but in some instances he’s the lesser of two evils. The story follows Lucas and his obsession with a young boy named Caleb (played by Lucas Black who’s amazing in the role) who is actually his son via a rape.
Caleb seems to be as powerful as his father but could fall either way into the good or the evil side of things thanks to the spirit of his sister Merlyn (played by American Horror Story favorite Sarah Paulson.) Caleb’s family is all but gone except for his cousin Gail (Paige Turco) who comes back to town to be his guardian and who finds herself the focus of Lucas’s attentions as well.
Gail soon discovers Trinity is filled with secrets and the supernatural as she tries to discover the truth of Lucas without losing her heart and soul to him in the process. She’s helped by Dr. Crower (Jake Weber) a man with demons of his own.
American Gothic was pure Raimi with skewed visuals, sounds effects being used for mood, and a storyline that kept you intrigued that was filled with dark humor and creepy scenes filled with southern noir. There were also a guest stars that horror fans will recognize like Bruce Campbell, Arnold Vosloo, Melissa McBride, and others.
What was great about the show was that it didn’t feel rushed nor the need to truly explain who Lucas was. It kept the mystery but didn’t annoy you with not answering the questions of what was at the dark heart of Trinity. In fact, it allowed Lucas to be a hero a few times which left viewers sort of conflicted on how to feel about him. He was the ultimate anti-hero.
CBS didn’t really know what to do with a series like this back then and sadly we only wound up with one season produced. Even then the episodes were only partially showed…and those were out of order. But American Gothic’s full series was released on DVD and is still available and quite reasonably priced at around 20 bucks.
If you are a fan of Sam Raimi, good creepy TV, or horror in general you owe it to yourself to own this series. If you’ve never heard of American Gothic…just listen to me now and go buy it. It’s superbly acted and shot with as much style as any flick right now. American Horror Story could learn a thing or two from the team that did it first. Check out American Gothic.
You can follow Jesssica on her website Fan Girl Mag