The Land of Misfit Culture

The Internet at times seems like this grand global supercomputer, containing every book, movie or song ever published. Yet curiously, the cultural commonality that people had in the days of network television and 10 cent newsreels is almost extinct. With the proliferation of the 500 channel universe, shows have specialized to the point that every conceivable taste is being catered to independent of any other preference. We’re not as easily able to gossip about television shows with our co-workers as easily any more. If you want to talk about your favorite show, you might as well be talking about the UFO you saw last night. I’m probably much more susceptible to this than most given that I’m a science fiction fan. Sci-fi television has a litany of shows picked up, worshipped and then unceremoniously cancelled due to either poor ratings, high budgets or just nihilistic groupthink. It’s a tradition dating all the way back to the original Star Trek.

Good manners tell me that I can’t talk about these shows in public ever again. If no one else saw the show, they get this kind of glazed look in their eyes, as if you really *had* been abducted by aliens, and immediately try to maintain a safe distance from you and your imaginary television shows. But then I thought, this is why they have the internet, to have these awkward conversations without trapping some poor soul at work or school.

So without further ado, Please leave a comment if you remember this 1997 series.

The show is called John Woo’s “Once a Thief”, loosely based on the 1991 film of the same name starring Chow Yun-fat. It’s about a thief named Mac Ramsey who was thrown into a Chinese prison after trying to escape from the triad with his fiancee Li Ann Tsei. He gets released in Vancouver and is immediately put in the employ of the Dominatrix-like Director. Li Ann is also there, as well as her new boyfriend, an ex-cop named Victor.

The series was an action comedy, just like its film predecessor. Every week the trio of Mac, Victor, and Li Ann would be either preventing some kind of robbery or assassination for this mysterious agency, all the while getting themselves into various comic misunderstandings. There was even an episode where they parodied the X-files, which was filming in Vancouver at the time. One teaser had some foreign dignitary awaiting body guards in his hotel room. Two Arabic guys show up to the door introducing themselves as Mac and Victor (the two male leads). The dignitary asks why they were so late. “Traffic”, they manage to explain through broken English. Just then, the real Mac and Victor show up, and beat the crap out of the bad guys. And why were THEY late? They explain: “Traffic”

Okay, maybe you had to be there. But if there’s a DVD of this series out there, I’m buying it.