DVD Extras




2x01: The Watchers

David Abramowitz: Hi, I'm David Abramowitz. I was the, um, what was I? I guess they called me 'creative consultant' or 'executive creative consultant'. I was a supervising producer in the first year, I was a creative consultant, then the executive creative consultant. I got confused, myself. But most of the time, I was in charge of the writing.

Bill Panzer: Hi, I'm Bill Panzer. With my partner, Peter Davis, I produced the Highlander movies. Uh... we got involved in the Highlander TV series. It was probably the best six years of my life. I was the executive producer along with the usual host of executive producers that you have in television. We shot all over the place. We had a great time. I got to meet David Abramowitz. It was truly a magical period.

David: [leans into frame] Before you go, the world used to say -- or I used to say -- I was the mother of the show; he was the father.

Bill: Talk about the odd couple.

David: I'm still waiting for my ring.

Bill: Not to mention your residuals.

[DA laughs.]


Bill: So starting the second season was kind of an exciting moment.

David: It was a mess, actually, if you really want to know the truth.

Bill: I know, but look, we had Michael York who wanted to play Joe Dawson; we had David McCallum who wanted to play Joe Dawson, who we met with.

David: Yup.

Bill: But we cast Jim Byrnes to play Joe Dawson.

David: He had a certain quality that was... just more real, more earthy than the other two.

Bill: And he had a, you know, he had a decent TV cue from "Wiseguy". He was an interesting guy. Come from St. Louis, he moved to Canada, he had done two tours in Viet Nam, he had lost his legs in Viet Nam. He was a, he was like a man; he was a real mensch.

David: He didn't lose his legs in a car accident? [Both laugh at his mistake.] In the episode. In the episode we did about his history, we wrote that he lost his legs in Viet Nam. It was a car accident, actually.

Bill: That shows you how reality can blend-- [Both continue to laugh.]

David: No, Jim was great. I mean, I just thought that he brought a lot of depth to the role, you know, he had his own -- he had his own trials to live through in his life, being handicapped, and he was a wonderful actor. But more than an actor, he was a great presence onscreen, and it was only later, you know, when we moved him -- in that third year, that we moved him into his jazz club that we really utilized his character in a way that was really fitting to him. Originally conceived, the character was more studious, more tight -- was a much tighter personality, but, um -- which is why we looked at Dave McCallum and Michael York -- but we really made the best choice for the series. He was one of the fan favorites throughout all the years that we did the show.

Bill: And we got a chance to introduce the Watchers, and a fascinating subculture existing around the Immortal world, and the first time that we did something that was an extension of the movies. This was something that was never conceived of in the movies, it was a Highlander television original and became a fascinating subtext for it.

David: Yeah. You know, as I remember it, you and Marla brought that idea to the party, and I just expanded on it a little bit. And I thought it was a great idea, because it enabled us to bring in a human perspective into the show that wasn't there before, so it wasn't just about Immortals and their battles, it was about Watchers. And what was most interesting about that, I think, was that it gave the audience, um, the audience actually took part. They could identify with the Watchers. They could identify with -- it's hard to identify with someone who's Immortal, sometimes can live for eight hundred or a thousand or five hundred years. But a Watcher's just a normal human being, and so the audience could find themselves saying, "I could be that guy." And I think Joe became everyman on the show; he became the audience in a way.

Bill: And was the first guy who, the first Watcher that we dealt with who sort of started to step over the line a little bit, that was the separation between the Watchers and the Immortals, and didn't just observe, didn't just record, but occasionally chose a side and started to... started to help.

David: Yeah, he had a definite -- he had a definite rooting interest.

Bill: He had an agenda, absolutely.

David: Right, and his agenda was that Duncan MacLeod of the clan MacLeod should be the One, because he believed that he was not only a great fighter but had a righteous soul, and he was right.

Bill: That's why we went six seasons.

David: [agreeing] Probably.

2x02: Studies in Light

David Abramowitz:

"Studies in Light" was an interesting episode for us. It was really the start of stories that were not just about an action-adventure bad guy coming after MacLeod, but about personalities, characters that would pop off the screen and that would have a particular perspective on life. Gregor, the lead guest character, was a nihilist. He had a sense of life that was different than our other bad guys, where they just wanted to kill MacLeod or they were thieves or they wanted something in particular. Gregor actually wanted MacLeod to end his life.

The story began with a -- with us asking ourselves a question, the writing staff, which was: would an Immortal ever get tired of life? Would an Immortal ever feel the pain of life so excrutiatingly that life would no longer hold its value for him? This was a breakthrough episode, because it was the first time that a character wanted something more than an object or wanted something more than vengeance. I like Gregor a lot. He showed depth of character, he had some vision, he was once a good guy, and he wasn't evil -- he was the first of many gray characters, where we could pose almost a Talmudic question and, um, and find its own -- and find our answer.

The love story was also interesting because you don't often have an opportunity to play a handsome leading man against an elderly woman and have that handsome leading man still love that woman. It was interesting and it was a great -- it was a great caption on what Immortality was and what it could be: that life -- that living forever had its upsides and its downsides. I enjoyed this one a lot.

We made Linda Plager a photographer, one, because we thought it was somewhat poetic to have a mortal doing work that by its very nature is immortal. We decided not to kill Gregor, because we don't think the audience would have enjoyed seeing the character die. He was not inherently evil -- he was troubled, he was disturbed. We wanted to push him to the point where he had to actually choose life, and that's what he did and that's what MacLeod led him to.

2x03: Turnabout

Bill Panzer:

The reason that we had so many six-day shows which were -- was an unusual situation on Highlander; it just happened in the first half of season two -- was that we built several new sets, and in order to offset the cost of building the sets, we needed to pick up some cash from production. So, "Turnabout", another six-day show, so we called on our six-day expert, Clay Borris, and as usual, Clay managed to deliver a terrific show and have us all in the bar at six o'clock on the sixth day, so we could ask for no more.

We built the dojo this year. It was the -- we realized that Tessa wanted to return to Europe for personal reasons and we felt MacLeod needed another mortal to talk to and to interact with, and since he wasn't going to be living in the antique store anymore, it would be -- he needed a place to hang out that we thought we could change, be more masculine. And Charlie DeSalvo's character was a very good foil for Mac.

We shot a lot of the show at the Riverview Mental Asylum, which had been closed for, like, I don't know, forty years. And for us it was a perfect place 'cause they could dress the exterior and make it look like it was functioning and dress parts of the interior so when we did the flashbacks, both interior and exterior, it fit beautifully. The crazy old lady. And then we also used it as the prison and where Barnes was executed.

And, finally, this episode was the beginning of the relationship, or the expansion of the relationship, between Joe Dawson and Duncan MacLeod. For Joe to help MacLeod by getting him a file was for him a very big step and, you know, became a major character arc as the two of them grew closer and closer.

2x04: The Darkness

Bill Panzer: So we had discovered that Tessa -- Alexandra Vandernoot -- did not want to do more than a few shows in season two, that she wanted to go back to Belgium, or Paris, and her new husband, boyfriend, family, whatever.

David: And after I went into mourning, we had to rewrite her out, which was... troublesome. And I felt like a jilted lover, to tell you the truth.

Bill: She was popular.

David: She was beautiful, and she was a wonderful actress.

Bill: They were great together.

David: Yup, they were. Heat. But, you know, I think that, for her -- I guess she looked at the part and looked at her career and said, "You know, this show is about Duncan MacLeod of the clan MacLeod. He is 'The Highlander'. It's not 'The Highlander and Tessa'." And I think a small part of her, being a really strong actress, wanted to play a more aggressive part in the show, and sadly, the nature of the beast was that couldn't happen, and she made a decision.

Bill: That was also the case in the movies. It was always an issue of, as wonderful as the women were, it was how do you have the woman be something other than a victim, a hostage, all the things that when you're dealing with an Immortal hero, it's not so easy.

David: Right. And especially week after week after week after week, it becomes difficult. So she made a choice and we made it work, which was a bit heartbreaking. And I remember, when we talked about how we were going to have her die, and it was interesting, because we wanted it to be a surprise -- and how shocking it was to us when she died at the end of the episode, the victim of street violence, in the middle of an episode where she was actually saved and it would have been easier to kill her off in the episode, and we -- we did it through random street violence.

Bill: Which was cool, though, because the idea is that it's not an Immortal event, it's just a comment on 'this is what life is like,' and after all of the 'sturm und drong' that happened in the episode to her and all that stuff, it's finally over, she's finally cool, everything is terrific and *wham*, she -- and Richie -- get killed.

Translation: sturm und drong - storm and stress

David: Right. And Richie comes back.

Bill: And Richie comes back... which we had kind of laid -- we'd laid some pipe for that in the first episode of season one, but we hadn't really decided whether we were going to make him Immortal or NOT make him Immortal. It was just like a one-liner, "You'd better watch him," or whatever the line was, back in season one, and this seemed like the moment to do that.

David: It's really sad to me to have Tessa die, and made fans really angry, so it's good to have an opportunity to say that it wasn't totally our choice, that the actress had something to do with it also.


Bill: The Traci Lords character, you know, who was basically a--

David: She was based on the character of, sort of like Whoopi Goldberg was in "Ghost".

Bill: Right. Somebody who was a, kind of, pretend psychic...

David: Yeah, she was a charlatan with a real gift, and what's interesting in casting of Traci Lords, who came out of adult movies but really had some acting chops and had a certain vulnerability on the screen that I thought was really quite good. And there was -- I remember the difficulty in shooting it. Sometimes you write something in a script, and you think it's going to be easy to do, and that was the -- they fight in this black room, and how impossible it was to actually--

Bill: To build a black room, to create the black room, because it had to fit -- because it was like half a day, and it had to fit next to an exterior location, and the only interior that there was had a lot of windows. So instead of just being in the studio, where it's just black anyway, we had to take and black out all the windows, and it consumed an enormous amount of time, which allowed us to not be able to shoot the James Bond two women gypsies having a cat-fight over Duncan MacLeod in the flashback that we had wanted to do, but because we couldn't do it, had to be rewritten so it was just one cranky woman and Duncan.

David: {Who would have her?} You know, it all seems so easy when you're at your -- when you're at the word processor. You just write it in and someone else has to do it. It's one of the magical things about writing. Then you actually get to the location, and you actually have to make it work, and the director and the line producer look at you with daggers in their eyes and says -- saying, "Who was the jerk who wrote this?" and you turn around and you go look over your shoulder and you try to find them and then you realize it was you.

Bill: You know, it could be worse. You could be working for a living.

David: That's true. Absolutely, positively. I always thought working for you WAS working for a living.

2x05: An Eye For An Eye

Bill Panzer: This show was originally called "The Education of Richie Ryan," But about ten years ago when we shot this, there was a movie out called "The Education of--" somebody, I forget who it was, and television producers being the courageous souls that we are, we decided that rather than create confusion, we would change the title of our show to something a little less appropriate, and we called it "An Eye for an Eye." It really should be called "The Education of Stan Kirsch." When we cast Stan, we were just looking for a good actor, and we found one. Likeable, charming, and building a very nice fan-base. We had not anticipated when we cast him that the option might exist for him to become an Immortal, but we layered that into the first episode, "The Gathering," and we decided that we were going to exercise that option, as it were, now. Suddenly he had to go from being MacLeod's sort of side-kick and, you know, younger brother character to taking his place in the world of Immortals. And the first thing you have to learn as an Immortal is how to take care of yourself. So Stan had to, in addition to changing, or beginning to change, the way his relationship worked with his character and MacLeod's character, he also had to learn how to do this stuff and we had to see a, kind of a growth pattern coming from him as he went from being like you or I, who had never done anything, never held a sword in their hand, learning, and in this case specifically, that there was an opponent there, a present opponent who was very skillful and was waiting for him. Now, the opponent, Sheena Easton, also had no martial arts skills or no sword skills, so to make everything a little easier for them, we set it in an almost impossible location. The steps leading up to the lighthouse would have been a very dicey place to have a swordfight, even if you had two terrific swordfighters. But Sheena had never held a sword in her life -- you know, maybe at a dinner party or a costume ball, but -- and she had one day to learn how to do this. And for two people who really had never done it before, between some clever directing and some clever editing, I think it looks like they're going at it.


David Abramowitz: One of the episodes that I caught a lot of hell for was "An Eye For An Eye," with Sheena Easton. Someone once told me that death was an aphrodisiac. It's a thing that pushes you to life, and the greatest thing in life and that says 'life' is sex. So we had MacLeod make love to another character right after, uh, right after Tessa died. And the fans hated it, and the women wanted to string me up. I was a cad and a cur and a mysogynist.


Bill: We were shooting at the lighthouse on the stairs, everything is very complicated, and then a package, a box, gets washed up onto the shore. It says 'explosives' on it. And we had to stop filming, and we lost six hours of shooting. We had an insurance claim. It's the only time that we ever stopped filming on 'Highlander' ever.

2x06: The Zone

Bill Panzer: When I first started to do this show, I was straight out of the movie business, and our French partner, Marla Ginsburg, says, "Bill, here's the first thing you're going to have to understand. When you do twenty-two episodes a season, some will be better than others.


David Abramowitz: I'd like to offer a brief comment on "The Zone." In the six years I did 'Highlander', this was probably my least favorite episode, and the reason is was my least favorite episode is, we were pushed and pushed and pushed by Powers That Be and various networks and studios to do episodes that didn't involve Immortals. And I fought it, because I didn't think MacLeod was -- I didn't think ANY mortal could stand up to Duncan MacLeod of the clan MacLeod, and maybe it was something in my subconscious that put out an episode that wasn't quite up to snuff, and I take the blame for that one. So right now, to the world -- I've never done this before -- I apologize for "The Zone."


Bill: The production team was stretched very thin when-- Production design on a limited budget works when you can focus your energies on either building something or re-doing, re-dressing an exterior, within a limited range. When it starts to get too big, the paint gets too thin, if you will. And as we've seen, you can sometimes get in trouble with a six-day show because you're writing the script to fit the six days, not necessarily to fill the full amount of time you need for a television episode, which is totally unchangeable. And if you don't have the luxury of adding an additional scene, as we would frequently do, then what you do is you kind of stretch the show, and as you stretch the show, the pauses get a little bit longer, the reaction shots get a little bit longer, and so you -- you've compounded the problem, and you end up with a show that's kind of, just creeps along and... I wish we'd never made it.

2x07: The Return of Amanda

Bill Panzer: "The Return of Amanda"... no fight scenes, no martial arts, no swordplay, no bad Immortal, no Quickening, but somehow the show really worked.


David Abramowitz: In "The Return of Amanda," we're dealing with the actress Elizabeth Gracen, who is absolutely wonderful but on occasion is a little bit flakey. So she comes into our office and she's -- because she has a question. She's wearing a small little nose ring on her nose and she want-- and she'd like to keep it, and she wants to know if we could write it in for the part and it would be okay on camera. And what she doesn't tell us is that she's cut off all her hair and she's got really -- two-inch -- her entire hair is maybe two inches long and it's completely white. And I said, "Elizabeth! Were you going to tell us about this or not?" She'd do things like that on occasion. Just... I think she liked keeping us off balance.


Bill: Enormous style. The style starts from the minute you see the beginning of the period recreation by Steve Geaghan till you watch Adrian walk into a nightclub in pre-World War II Germany in a tuxedo, looking better than Cary Grant with every bit as much style and panache, and suddenly you forget the loutish Scottish warrior that we've, uh, that we've always loved.

  The problems of doing Germany in Vancouver were not underestimated by our European partners. The Germans said, "No swastikas." So Steve came up with the idea of 'Let's use the Imperial German eagle. It's got the same kind of menace and vaguely authoritarian thing.' And it worked great for all of us over here. The French never thought we could do Nazi Germany in Vancouver. And Steve turned to Andrea French, who was the set decorator, and she said, "No, no, no, this is not a problem. I just did 'The Winds of War', and I know where every piece of Nazi stuff is in Vancouver." She said, "I know where the planes are" -- that we used in the airport sequence. "I know where the guns are, the cars, the motorcycles, the ashtrays, the glasses, the beer steins, all that stuff." And we made some banners, and we had a hell of a good time. The lighting was brilliant, and MacLeod became a different character that night.

  But at the end of the day, the show's called "Amanda", and what can you say about Elizabeth Gracen? What can you say about the character of Amanda? Beautiful, deceitful, funny, sexy; I mean, everything a man would want. And the chemistry between her and MacLeod -- you know, you cast things, you try and put people together, you hope for the best... This was something that had nothing to do with our casting. This was something that just happened when two people really connected.

2x08: Revenge of the Sword

Bill Panzer:

If it's a six-day show, it must be Clay. So Six Day Clay took off, and because this has a movie within a movie, we thought it'd be fun to have Clay be the director of the film and, in fact, all the other people playing the crew of the film were our crew in reality.

The ratings, the audience of 'Highlander', was growing and expanding at this time, but we felt we should continue with our policy of trying to reach an even broader audience, so we're still sticking with the concept of no bad Immortal in every show and no Quickening, therefore. But you've still got to have a swordfight, you've still got to have some martial arts, and we were really lucky that we cast Dustin Nguyen to play the cranky movie star, because he could really do this stuff. So when our swordmaster suggested that MacLeod fight him using two swords, which is something we'd never done before, everybody got excited. It was great to find somebody who could really do it, almost as well as Adrian could do it. And I think it triggered us moving in new directions in both our martial arts and our swordfighting.

And at the end, the last shot when MacLeod walks off into the sunset and kind of does that little riff on Humphrey Bogart in "Casablanca", he also did other takes where he did Sean Connery as James Bond, he did kind of twelve different Jimmy Cagney movies, but at the end of the day we decided to go with Bogie.

2x09: Run For Your Life

David Abramowitz: One of my favorite episodes of all time is "Run For Your Life", and the singular reason for that is Bruce Young. He played Carl. His portrayal was perfect; it was wonderful. Some actors just pop off the screen, and he popped. He not only devoured the moment, but he devoured the episode, and for me he devoured the series. So right now I want to go on camera and I want to say, "Bruce Young... thank you, thank you, thank you. I think you're a great actor."


Bill Panzer: Most of the time when we think about Immortality, we think about the problems of Immortality: the loneliness, the idea of losing loved ones over the centuries, the danger of being in conflict with other Immortals, the solitude, the living a dark, shadowy life. This show showcases how great it can be to be an Immortal, how a man can, in three lifetimes, go from being a slave--

David: --to being someone with hopes and dreams of becoming a professional baseball player, to finally someone who had hopes and dreams of actually changing the world.

Bill: And that's the kind of thing we haven't done very often, and I think it was a wonderful tale.

David: I just was very happy with the episode. I was very happy with him.


Bill: For the first time we had two original songs in the show, which rarely happens on 'Highlander'. In fact, the song "Jack of Diamonds", which was sung by Jim Byrnes who plays Joe Dawson, that was the first time he ever sang on the show and was kind of the trigger that led us to build Joe's place so that we could showcase his blues singing and his playing. In fact, the song was so cool, we lengthened the scene fifty percent because we wanted to hear more of the music, because the whole thing worked so wonderfully together. And did pretty much the same thing with the song "Looking for the One", and Keith Scott did an original -- that was his original song and Keith, as you may or may not know, was Bryan Adams' lead guitar player.

  The flashbacks, I thought, had a richness and an authenticity that we didn't always achieve. I mean, it may seem easy to go outside and say, "Well, here's a field and we'll put up a noose, a gallows, and he'll come by in a car, and they'll all be wearing old jeans and it's the South." It's not like that. The amount of research that goes into exactly what kind of a costume is it? What kind of jeans are. What would the character be wearing? The car, the texture of the cinematography, and the minute attention to propping that Steve Geaghan, our production designer, brought to the thing -- were pretty outstanding. A lot of work went into these flashbacks and we're very, very proud of those.

  But mostly I think the episode hung on the shoulders of Bruce. I mean, Bruce Young did such an amazing performance that he was nominated for a Gemini Award for Best Actor. Gemini Award is the Canadian equivalent of our Emmys.

  Oh, and he really did break some of those bottles himself.

2x10: Epitaph for Tommy

Bill Panzer:

Well, it's been five or six weeks since we've had a Quickening, and here it comes, "Epitaph for Tommy", one of our best. This was part of our strategy to bring in guest stars who had established themselves in other entertainment media. So we welcomed "Rowdy" Roddy Piper, straight from the world of big-time wrestling, who was also a former finalist in various tough-man competitions around the world. Extremely nice guy, big guy, tough guy. Ken [Gord] had found a location for the end of the movie and for, you know, earlier in the movie, which is called the PNE, the Pacific National Exhibition, which has an amusement park in it, and we all thought this would be a time to dare to be great, to dare to come up with a Quickening that was a little different, that was a little more extravagant than something we'd ever done before. We even found a girl, Gabrielle Miller, who was -- just for informational purposes, was the gal in the haywagon, and we liked her so much, she came back later in an episode called "Rite of Passage".

When we rehearse swordfights, they're rehearsing mostly with wooden swords, basically just sort of sticks, and then they progress to aluminum swords. During the fights, they use the aluminum swords, which are lighter in weight than a real sword, but they are still made of metal and they still have an edge and can hurt. And then the close-ups, when the guy's holding a sword like this [holds a pen up in front of hs face], that's when the steel swords are actually used. Well, this night, "Rowdy" Roddy was pumping some adrenaline, and he broke Adrian's sword and slashed Adrian's hand. It was the first injury that we had had on the show, and the nurse came up and said that we had to stop shooting, Adrian immediately had to go to the hospital. Adrian looked at Ken and looked at the first A.D. and said, "Aren't we ready for the Quickening?" And they said, "Yes, but, you know, it's your call." And he said, "Let's do it." You know, under a tight bandage, blood pouring out of his hand, he did the Quickening and then was taken to the emergency room where they stitched him up. Not a lot of actors would do that.

2x11: The Fighter

David Abramowitz:

I remember "The Fighter" because we transformed the hockey arena of the Vancouver Canucks into a prize-fight ring, and the hockey people were worried that we wouldn't be able to put it back together again in time.

And I remember thinking about how fortunate we were having Bruce Weitz as our guest star. He'd just finished doing 'Hillstreet Blues' and was a great character, and he played a great character for us. "The Fighter" was a take-off on the old Cyrano story, where a character's in love with a beautiful young woman and can't find the words to speak to her and speak of his love. So we had Phil Akin, who played Charlie DeSalvo, talk to Bruce Weitz, who played the fight manager who's in love with the young girl, and to watch the two of them together -- they aren't exactly the slickest characters in the world. It was like the blind leading the blind.

The bare-knuckle fighting that we had was particularly brutal, and we were worried about it, because some of our overseas markets weren't into having violence at the time. In fact, this episode got us into a lot of trouble, and we were known for a short period of time as maybe the most violent show on television. And the reason for that was the show was about boxing, and what they did was, they counted each of the punches, and because there were so many punches -- 'cause we were doing a boxing show -- we became the violent show on television... later surpassed by any number of shows after that. But we had one small moment of ignominious fame.

2x12: Under Color of Authority

Bill Panzer:

One of my favorite episodes, in fact. Jonathan Banks and Jim Byrnes, both of whom had been on 'Wiseguy', were reunited on this show, even though they never have a scene together. Duncan was a newspaper man -- this was a character arc that we thought about running with, and then like so many ideas, it kind of fell by the wayside as other developments seemed more interesting. I think most importantly about this show is that if "Eye for an Eye" was sort of the 'education of Richie Ryan', "Color of Authority" was his coming of age. I mean, this was his first Quickening. He -- we call it the 'paint can' Quickening because that, you know, we try to find a location where we could do something interesting with our -- with the explosions and the energy from the Quickening. And the whole event put Mac in kind of a tough spot, because here's his ward, his younger brother, and he's finally killed somebody. Maybe this guy didn't deserve to be killed. And it's like the Immortal world is full of grey areas like this, and maybe Richie didn't get it, but maybe that's what has to happen in order to move forward. You know, this is the time for them to say goodbye; this is the time for Richie to leave and kind of find himself, start to see what it's like surviving on the outside. And, you know, Mac's reaction at the end is fantastic. I mean, is he crying? Is he sad to see him go? Is he a little afraid for him? You know, it's like any time you turn a youngster loose in a world, even today's world, it's a pretty scary moment for the parent.

2x13: Bless the Child

Bill Panzer:

Now when you're shooting episodic television, directors alternate. While one director is shooting, another director is prepping. In this case, we decided that Clay could do it without prepping, so basically Clay went from "Color of Authority" to "Bless This Child" with no real prep. Yes, he would have meetings at night and he would approve wardrobe and this and that, but basically the show was cast and prepped by the producer, Ken Gord, and Line Producer Brent Clackson. Steve Geaghan was the art director -- he took care of all that stuff, and by then everybody had huge confidence in the guy. So most of the prep that Clay got in on this show was done in the bar at the Sutton Place Hotel, and finally, when it was done, when he was finished with "Under Color of Authority", we just dropped him in the middle of the woods with the script and the actors, and we said, "Well, we'll see you in six days."

2x14: Unholy Alliance, Part One

David Abramowitz:

"Unholy Alliance, Part One" is an episode that I liked a lot. It was a strong action-adventure episode and brought back to us the character of Xavier St. Cloud, with one hand, which is interesting because it posed a number of questions for us as to whether a hand regenerates. And we had decided that it didn't, even for Immortals -- that they could heal, but they couldn't regenerate and grow appendages. And truthfully, the writers sat around the room for hours talking about 'could we do this, could we not do this', and finally we decided to go for it.

So, you know, when you do a show like this, what you do is you make up a lot of it as you go along. The fans used to ask, you know, "Do you know all the rules from the beginning?" and it's just like in life -- you don't know any of the rules. You make them up as you go along, and you try your best to be consistent and -- so that no one turns around and says, "Wait a minute, um, you're cheating," because that's one thing we didn't want to do. We didn't want to ever cheat.

The episode also was important for another reason for us. It created tension between Joe Dawson and Mac, which was a very good thing, so that Joe just wasn't a side-kick, wasn't a helper. That he had his own agenda, his own view of the world, and it really solidified, in some ways, what the perspective of the Watchers were.

2x15: Unholy Alliance, Part Two

David Abramowitz: We shot some of the shows in Vancouver and a bunch of the shows in Paris, and it was always difficult creating an episode that was a segue for us, some natural way that we could carry the show from Vancouver to Paris. And creating an Immortal like Xavier did this for us, because he was such a bad guy that MacLeod would gladly follow him to Hell to kill him, especially after he knew that he was tied in to Horton, who was responsible for the death of Darius, his really good friend and mentor.

  "Unholy Alliance, Part Two" brought a new character for us. His name was Maurice, and as this was a French and Canadian co-production, we had to bring in a couple of French characters, and we brought in wine-loving, fun-loving Maurice, which we took a lot of heat from, from the French, mostly because they weren't so crazy about having a wine-loving, fun-loving character, and I guess they thought their -- the character that we'd brought in to play Maurice would have a lot more philosophical and intellectual questions to ask, rather than things like, um, 'I wonder what we're doing for dinner tonight.' Bill Panzer: Shooting in Paris, being as difficult as it is, when you throw in some bad weather and some bad luck, it can get a little hairy. During these rains that were flooding the river, we're trying to shoot a scene -- we can't shoot it because it's raining, and you're not allowed to go where we need to go, so we just sort of move a couple of streets away and start to shoot. We're doing the shoot-out in this scene, and somehow crowd control got out of control, and there's our guys running around shooting, you know, shooting caps and making a lot of noise, and falling down dead, and there are, like, civilians wandering through the shot. We don't have the right permit, the police come, the production manager goes to jail. So the plusses of Paris are fabulous, but every once in a while... they're French. We weren't asked back.

2x16: The Vampire

Bill Panzer:

This was a Dennis Berry episode. Dennis, in addition to the sweeping camera shots and sex, also thought that violence should be pushed to the very limits of the television sensibility. So to help him out, the wonderful opening sequence, uh, we added a little blood optically, a special effect, in the pool. When the guy gets the stake driven into his chest, we got in a little bit of trouble with that and had to tone down the sound effects, otherwise the French and the Germans were not going to run the episode.

This is the first time that we kind of played around with a sense of the supernatural. I mean, the idea of vampires and the idea of Immortals, you know, they're not that different. And we kind of fooled around in that grey area and enjoyed doing it.

This show has a fairly high percentage of flashback to present day footage, and one of the joys of Paris is that, you know, Paris IS a flashback, for some periods.

Ken Gord and Dennis had a huge disagreement about the Quickening -- the final fight scene and the Quickening. Dennis maintained that you cannot have an acceptable Quickening during the day, there was absolutely no way you could do it. He was at a loss of what to do. Ken found this abandoned racetrack called the Hippodrome and just told Dennis eventually that, "Okay, Dennis, I'm the producer, and I win. You're going to shoot it during the day. We're not staying up all night to do this." Jeremy Brudenell could fight. He was one of the best guys we ever had, because most English stage actors are trained in swordfighting. And having that big exterior space, and he being athletic as well as Adrian, they got to really tear up the scenery. If we ever have a doubt that Duncan MacLeod is a real hero, a larger-than-life character, the kind of character you can only have in a movie, it's the end of the fight here. The bad guy smart-mouthing him, Adrian turns it around, says that you are NOT good enough to take me, and then, the bad guy being kind of a little campy, gets to come back with a little funny line as Adrian whacks his head off. And at the end, in order to make his Quickening a little better, which I thought was pretty good, Dennis, somewhere at the racetrack, found ten thousand old tout sheets, and those are the pieces of paper that are flying around the racetrack. You know, this is the beginning of Dennis' paper period. You'll see it in another Quickening where we also used a lot of paper. And, you know, the episode is a little campy for us, and, uh -- but it was -- we thought it was fun.

2x17: Warmonger

David Abramowitz:

"Warmonger" was an interesting episode for me and one that was very personal. We named the victim, the sympathetic victim in the show, uh, the guest star, 'Eli Jarmel', and he was a very heroic character who died fighting for what he believed. Eli Jarmel was my wife's father. He died when he was forty-six. He was a lawyer on Bobby Kennedy's civil rights commission and was a great man. And we thought -- I thought we would create a character to honor his name, and Eli Jarmel in this episode, I believe, does him justice.

"Warmonger" was another one of those episodes that had a, basically a Talmudic question in it, which was 'How long do you have to keep a promise, and how valid is that promise to someone who is evil? MacLeod was forced to break a promise, something a man of honor is loathe to do. Eli Jarmel, our victim who's dying, turns to him when MacLeod speaks of his promise and looks him right in the eye and says, "This is not honor, dealing with this man, dealing with this promise. This is your vanity." This was a recurring theme through a lot of the work that I did, and a lot of the work that I do, and it's a line that I've stolen and used in a lot of episodes in the present, so I hope Bill and Peter with forgive me for it.

2x18: Pharaoh's Daughter

Bill Panzer: It's our old pal, Dennis Berry. Dennis is famous for his sweeping camera moves whenever he's given an opportunity, and he's also famous for his love of the female body, so this episode probably has more flesh in it than any 'Highlander' episode before or since. And Nia Peeples' body double would be the first person to tell you that when she got out of that sarcophagus in the warehouse, that it was very, very cold. When Duncan and Nia are having their love scene, and when Nia and Constantine are having their love scene -- I mean, this is pretty good stuff, and we tried to use as much of it as we possibly could.

David Abramowitz: Every now and then you'll have an episode or an actress that comes off the screen, and God, did she come off the screen. She was so incredibly beautiful, and it -- you know that she's beautiful, is that she was playing her scene with Adrian and their love-making scene. People would pass by the doors as we were watching dailies and peek in and come and watch half an hour of dailies, just to watch the two of them, because they were so incredibly beautiful and so incredibly sexy together. And she was also a pretty good actress.


Bill: One of an Immortal's greatest fears is to be buried alive and probably un-found for thousands of years, and we thought it was an interesting notion that, out of such great loyalty, that an Immortal would choose to be buried, knowing that she would revive and come back who-knows-when, out of loyalty to her queen. Thought that was kind of cool.

  The sets were all kind of small, but it's amazing what a set designer can do when they've got just the right few props, the right few touches -- some gauze, some fabric, and suddenly you're transported into another world. I mean, I think it's pretty amazing, that these guys both -- we always talk about Steve Geaghan in Canada, but the guys in France did a fabulous job as well.

  These were the oldest two Immortals, Constantine and Nefertiri, that we had had since Darius and until we got to Methos. In fact, Constantine was our first attempt to replace a Darius-like character for MacLeod to have somebody to talk with who was older and more experienced than he was. And as things happen in television, that didn't exactly work out, but then that's why we got Peter Wingfield to play Methos.

  Nia was our choice to do the part, but just as an historical note, Catherine Zeta-Jones also wanted to do the part. What a difference a decade makes.

  The swordfight was pretty bold, because what Nia lacked in experience, she made up for in ferocity, and if you look at it, and you'll -- nobody ever came at Duncan with such incredible aggressiveness. She was not pulling her punches; there was no attempt at slow down, half speed, soften the shot. She just went at him and everybody was just hoping that Adrian could take care of himself. Which he could.

  And it's very kind that in all of the email, fanmail, conventions, and all the times we've discussed this episode -- I think it's very kind that none of you have wondered why we allowed a two-thousand-year-old person to get out of a sarcophagus where they've been imprisoned for that long, speaking perfect English. Thanks for your understanding.

2x19: Legacy

Bill Panzer:

"Legacy" was originally planned to be an episode called "The Chalice of San Antoine", but because of a jurisdictional dispute with the French Writers Guild and the Canadian Writers Guild, the episode had to be postponed, and instead this episode had to be written. Now, we had already booked Elizabeth Gracen -- Amanda -- months in advance. The schedule would be blocked out for how many episodes she was going to do over the course of the year, and she had blocked that time out, so we had to use Amanda, so it had to be a story about Amanda. So why not, we said, have the story about how MacLeod and Amanda met? And also, kind of the story of Amanda's mentor, Rebecca, played by Nadia Cameron, who was a Canadian actress who'd lived in London for twenty years and was absolutely fantastic, struck just the right note, and became a very, very popular character of ours.

Luther was a brilliant actor who had a very heavy Jamaican accent, and when we edited the show and were doing the sound mix on the show, people were commenting that they couldn't understand what he was saying. And this led us to revoice him with a Canadian actor doing a Jamaican accent. I think it came out pretty well.

This show was directed by Paolo Barzman, who is Dennis Berry's best friend. They're both sons of the Black List; both of their parents were blacklisted, and when they were tiny babies, they had to leave America and flee to France. But Paolo found himself a little behind schedule on this episode, so when he was shooting the final swordfight and the Quickening, he just started shooting during the day and kept shooting, and it became night, and he figured that we would sort it out later in post-production, which we did. Don Paonessa had the idea to just play it the way we had to and found a place where we could put in the sky getting darker and night coming on, and it worked a treat.

In seeing how MacLeod and Amanda met, I thought they -- you could just -- you saw her character from the very beginning, and her character's remained the same for hundreds of years. She's a thief. When we first met her, she's a thief; today, she's a thief; she's always been a thief. Once a thief, always a thief.

For the first time, magic comes to 'Highlander'. The legend of the crystals. Very controversial. About half of the audience did not like the idea of there being magic in 'Highlander'. And the other half loved it. So, under the heading that controversy is good, watch for the crystals. They'll be back.

2x20: Prodigal Son

Bill Panzer:

The prodigal son returns. The return of Richie, who had been gone, including reruns, for probably almost two months, and he's back, and he's taken a few heads, and he's a little more experienced than he was, and he has a little more attitude than he was, but he's still in trouble, and he's still glad to see MacLeod. And a parallel story -- one of the great things about Immortality is that these events repeat themselves, but the characters are still alive. Just as MacLeod is being used by Hyde to track Connor, Richie is being used by Hyde hundreds of years later to track Duncan. The end, the last shot in the movie -- one of my favorite shots in 'Highlander' -- is the two of them come, sit down on the steps, drink a -- start drinking a bottle of impossibly old Cognac, bonding again together, having -- you know, having now being closer to each other, as Richie has grown up a little bit. And Dennis Berry, who directed the episode, was very fond of not turning off the camera. So they finished the scene... and actors are always, like under, you know, 'don't break character; just stay in character and all will be well.' And Dennis used to like to test this a little bit. So he left the camera on and he left the camera on, and finally the two of them broke up, laughed, looked at each other, smiled, and it's like one of the nicest, totally unplanned, unscripted moments in 'Highlander'.

2x21: Counterfeit, Part One

Bill Panzer:

Well, contrary to all of the debate we had over the first two-part episode, the audience -- you guys -- seemed to like it, so we decided to try another one, and we thought this would be a time -- we always tried to figure out a way to bring Tessa back. How could we bring Tessa back, 'cause she was so popular. It seemed like an eternity that she had been gone, when it was really only, you know, four months or something like that, but we decided, while she was fresh, we should bring her back. And it's amusing that Adrian's wife, Meilani, played Tessa before her makeover, And you know, sometimes an episode works so well and the production runs so smoothly, that there's -- you know, there's really nothing really to elaborate on. The flashback looked terrific, and my only contribution was that originally, when Adrian is shooting the rifle out of the present, which is our transition into the past, instead of -- he was originally shooting a boar, and they shot a boar. Now, a French boar is smaller than an American boar. The boar was about this big. [holds his hands less than shoulder-width apart] So I said, "No, no. Let's make it a bear. Let's get a shot of a bear. It's more -- it's the kind of thing that's really a fitting opponent for our hero." But now, what this then spiralled down to, was people who -- every time somebody said 'boar', we had to revoice them saying 'bear'. So if you ever wonder what contribution the Executive Producer makes to a smooth-running episode, that was it.

2x22: Counterfeit, Part Two

Bill Panzer:

Again, this episode went very smoothly, but there were a couple of interesting things that happened behind the camera. One was when Meilani, playing Lisa in the first "Counterfeit", spoke in her own voice, that was fine. And had the plastic surgery which turned her into Tessa, and that was fine. But the question came up about the voice. Was it going to be confusing for people if we used Tessa's voice, since Tessa was playing Tessa, or would we accept the fact that it came from the surgery? And how we handled that became a debate of surprising proportions. At the end, we decided to let Meilani use her own voice for when she's playing Meilani and have Tessa use her voice. It's amazing, though, what we will accept and what we believe is possible with plastic surgery. I mean, just because Michael Jackson wants a different nose and a lot of people want to have JLo's butt, doesn't mean that all of this stuff is possible. But I think we sold it pretty convincingly, anyway.

(Uh, Bill, there was a whole scene where Lisa was being coached on her voice to get her sounding like Tessa. We weren't left to believe the plastic surgery itself magically changed her voice.)

  Something else was that originally in the script, Horton sent Lisa to kill Adrian on the barge. The writing staff, myself, we all thought that was kind of symbolic, and... When Adrian got the draft of the script, he said, "No, I don't think that's powerful enough. I think we should have her try to kill MacLeod at Tessa's grave." And he was right. It made for a much more dramatic scene.


[Camera switches to view of empty director's chair and surrounding paraphernalia (boom mike, light diffuser, etc.)]

Director: [offscreen] Keep rolling.

Bill: [offscreen] Let's start again. What are we doing here? God, that's boring. Wait, let me try just one more.

Director: [offscreen] And cut.


Bill: Well, David...

David: Yes, Bill?

Bill: It's been a hell of a run.

David: It's ben a hell of a run. I wish it kept going, to tell you the truth.

Bill: Me, too.

David: Here's to you, my friend.

Bill: Here's to you.

[They clink glasses, accompanied by the sound of swords clanging.]

Bill: [into camera] You know, if it weren't for you, there wouldn't be us.

David: [into camera] Thank you. L'Chaim. [Both drink.]

The End
of Season II


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