A Kind of Magic: Highlander 1994

Even when the Highlander franchise met with limited success, nobody in charge of it seemed to know how to handle it. Case in point: Highlander: The Animated Series and Highlander III. Both came about in 1994, when the TV series had hit its stride and made the franchise popular again. The logical thing to do would have been to produce films based on the series and establish some continuity in the property. Instead, we got the exact opposite.

I’m analyzing the animated series and the third movie at the same time for two reasons. First, they were both released in 1994, right around the time Highlander: The Series was in its awesome third season. Second, there’s not a lot to say about them. Yes, they are bad (well, as far as I can tell…more about that in a bit), but they aren’t catastrophically bad. Mention the animated series to a Highlander fan and they might not even know it exists. Mention Highlander III and you might get a laugh at how bad the film is, but nowhere near the seething hatred you’d find from the other sequels. These additions to the franchise aren’t good by any means, but they also aren’t terrible.

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A Kind of Magic: Highlander The Series, seasons five and six

One thing I forgot to mention last rant was that Adrian Paul took over as the director for a couple of episodes in season four (“Homeland” and “Methuselah’s Gift”), and he also got behind the camera for two episodes in the fifth season (“Revelation 6:8” and “The Modern Prometheus”). Probably not coincidentally, three of the four episodes he directed are among the best in the series. Again, Adrian Paul’s contributions made Highlander: The Series the success it was. Unfortunately, as he lost interest in the series, the show also went downhill.

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A Kind of Magic: Highlander The Series, seasons two through four

Despite struggling a bit early on without a clear direction, season one of Highlander: The Series was popular enough to warrant a continuation. That alone was remarkable enough; the franchise hadn’t exactly shown itself to be terribly viable beyond one movie up to that point. The second season did face some major hurdles, with the lead actress leaving the show and some budget cutbacks. Despite these problems, the show hit its stride and went on to produce some of the best moments of the franchise in seasons two through four.

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A Kind of Magic: Highlander The Series, season one

Following the catastrophe that was Highlander II: The Quickening, no one wanted to see another Highlander movie. The franchise got killed the moment someone decided that the immortals were really aliens from planet Zeist. But Davis-Panzer Productions wanted to continue the franchise somehow, probably because it was the only property they owned that had moneymaking potential. Movies were a dead end for the franchise (at least until later in the 1990s), so the production company had to out its hope into a TV series.

A TV show allowed for more episodic adventures with different immortals, drawing from the rich tapestry of experiences of immortal Connor MacLeod. After all, Connor was about 500 years old, and the movies had only scratched the surface about his past. There was only one major problem: Christopher Lambert, the actor who had brought Connor to life, didn’t want to do TV.

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A Kind of Magic: Highlander II, part one

Okay, let’s get this over with.

Highlander II: The Quickening. When you’re talking about crappy follow-ups to good movies, you’re talking about Highlander II. It is easily one of the worst sequels of all time, and even all the monkeying around with director’s cuts decades later has failed to make it even remotely tolerable.

The saddest part? Highlander II isn’t even the worst movie in this franchise. That honor goes to Highlander: The Source. But one trainwreck at a time. Let’s go over Highlander II, both its successes and failures.

Nah, I’m only kidding; there are no successes to discuss.

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Highlander

A Kind of Magic: Highlander

Highlander. I love it, even though it has caused me so much pain.

Like many fans of the Highlander franchise, I keep coming back for terrible movie after terrible movie, each time hoping that those in control of the franchise somehow catch lightning in a bottle as they did with the first film.

As the powers-that-be struggle to find footing for a Highlander reboot which seems doomed to meet the same disastrous fate that befell the franchise’s many sequels, let’s take a look at the original film. A box office flop but a cult classic, 1986’s Highlander proved strong enough to create a devoted fan base that has remained throughout the years, despite a plethora of sequels that rank among the worst films of all time.

How did this off-beat urban fantasy turn into a hit? In truth, Highlander was about as fortuitous a series of accidents you will ever see in the film industry.

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