Syndicated TV, 2000
Wrestling is an unpredictable business; you never know who’s going to succeed, who’s going to flop, who could have been a star if they had just gotten the chance, and who would have been a failure if plans hadn’t changed.
Case in point: In 1985, Vince McMahon wanted to make future Hall of Famer Bret Hart into “Cowboy” Bret Hart, complete with a horse to ride to the ring on. But Bret refused, thinking it embarrassing to pretend to be something he wasn’t. Turning down the boss’s ideas is always risky, but in Hart’s case, it paid off.
Who would have thought that after his wrestling career ended, Bret would be on TV playing not just a cowboy, but a Texas cowboy? Okay, he’d already done that on Lonesome Dove. But what about if the cowboy were a literal demon from hell?
The Immortal was a short-lived syndicated action series starring Lorenzo Lamas of Renegade fame.
As the title suggests, Lamas plays The Guy Who Can’t Be Killed (better known as “The Immortal”), a four hundred-year-old demon-slayer.
The episode, “Half Way” begins with Lamas and his crew staking out a homeless shelter for two demons on the loose. While The Immortal is eager to kill them to death, Sara the scientist urges caution – according to her infrared camera, one of these supposed demons appears to be human. The Immortal wants to kill them both anyway, just to be safe.
Inside the shelter, the man and woman in charge promise the homeless gentlemen a hot meal and no sermon. A secular homeless shelter? A denim jacket? Obviously, these must be demons.
But just to remove any doubt, we find them poisoning a big pot of stew.
Have no fear! The Immortal (his name is Rafe, by the way) rushes in to send one demon to hell with his samurai sword and some cost-effective special effects.
But before he can kill the woman, a homeless man intervenes and insists she can be saved. Rafe accidentally cuts the guy, severing his prosthetic hand. Shocked, Rafe sticks his samurai sword in his face and says, “What the hell are you?” Jeez, if this guy is four hundred years old and still suspects that anyone with a prosthesis is a demon, maybe he shouldn’t be trusted over matters of life and death.
The one-handed man is actually a former rockstar now dedicated to conversion therapy. Sort of like Little Richard in his later years, except this guy tries to convert demons. In fact, he’s in the process of deprogramming two demons at his compound.
To demonstrate, he gives the male demon a kitten and tests him to see whether he’ll feed the kitten it to a snake. After some struggle, the demon refuses to let the kitten die. On the other hand, the female demon, who is not as far along in her conversion…
…eats it raw like sushi before succumbing to peer pressure and spitting the it out.
To celebrate the soon-to-be-reformed demons’ progress, the whole crew drinks some pink lemonade on the patio…
…only for Bret Hart to show up with a big axe. “He’s leavin’ ratt now”, says the Hitman in an embarrassing attempt at a Texas accent.
He then decapitates the aspiring ex-demon, who squats to void his bowels before being dragged ass-first into the abyss.
“Sor-ry to intrude, Immortal,” says Hart, letting his Canadian accent show through, “but this one was mahn!” That is, mine. He then walks off carrying the severed head like a trophy.
He probably saw Hakushi do it once and thought it looked cool.
Rafe, of course, is fine with the whole thing. Demons can’t change, he insists to the de-programmer.
But he does want the scoop on the Hitman. According to his buddy Goodwin (who is also over four hundred years old but still a huge dork) Bret Hart is an immortal like Rafe. Except he isn’t called Bret Hart – if you can believe it – but Randall, The Collector. And sure, he likes to kill demons and all, but he “bats for the other team.”
That means either he’s gay, or he works for the devil.
Bret Hart and Lorenzo Lamas sit down for coffee, where Bret (or Randall) explains that he’s a contract killer (a hitman, if you will) who slays demons who stray toward the light. So that explains the decapitation, but it doesn’t explain why an immortal demon like Randall has a Texas accent, or why he calls people, “pardner”, or why he insists on calling coffee, “java”.
Randall then thanks the sexy waitress for her great service and promises her “a big tip coming your way”. And I don’t think he means a gratuity, folks. Hey, I thought he batted for the other team?
At the compound, the de-programmer tries to electro-shock the evil out of the newly-arrived female demon and thinks he’s making progress.
But it turns out, she was faking! And so was the other woman demon! Using her demon powers, she regrows the guy’s hand and tempts him into becoming a rockstar again in exchange for his soul.
Meanwhile, Rafe has a flashback of his days training in feudal Japan.
As his sensei once said, “Even a chicken has light meat and dark”. Of course, as we have just seen, this not-at-all-stupid proverb does not apply to demons.
Once again in the modern day, Randall The Hitman arrives at the compound with the decapitated demon he sent to hell earlier in the episode. Except now he’s alive, and his head has grown back. Oh, and he’s evil. “Wake up and smell the java, bro!”
This development kind of throws The Immortal’s entire premise into question. I mean, if a slain demon can just come right back to earth, what exactly is the point of killing them in the first place? Especially when you might accidentally kill a human, for real-zies?
Now, it’s time for Rafe and Randall to fight for some reason. But first, Rafe decapitates that demon again. “Try growing that back,” says Rafe. I guess the rules say that you can only re-grow a head once.
This just fires up Randall, who shouts, “Let’s get ready to RASSLE!”
As the two immortals prepare to do battle, or rassle, the two female demons subject Rafe’s sidekicks to the most evil and disgusting taunts since The Exorcist. “Losers! We fooled all of you!”
Goodwin escapes with Sara and roundhouse-kicks the security keypad…
…which obviously accomplishes nothing.
Rafe does the same thing to Randall, which also accomplishes nothing except some rad special effects and this baffling line from the Hitman:
Apparently Randall did a lot of ranch work in the fifth circle of hell.
The two female try to get front row seats to the fight, but when they refuse to leave the scene, Randall cuts them both down with his axe…
…which they sell like a former president imitating a New York Times reporter.
The fight moves to barn, where the demon-corrupted two-handed deprogrammer tries to intervene. Rafe, of course, cuts off his hand.
As the two immortal demon-slayers lock up, Randall gets a phone call from Satan and has to split.
Rafe wins by count-out, I suppose, then lets the de-programmer know that his life’s work was an absolute waste of time. But the good news is that there is a little good in everybody, as long as they’re of your race. Uh… the human race, I mean.
This wasn’t the last viewers saw of Bret Hart, however.
A few episodes later, the Hitman would reprise his role. And somehow, his accent would get even worse.
In the episode, “The Hunted”, Randall sparks up a conversation at a coffee bar in hell while on a break from work.
“Unions,” he remarks. “Boss did a good job thinking those up.” The “boss” who invented labor unions is Satan. Did Amazon produce this episode?
Bret and this other demon make a bet on which one of them can kill The Immortal. Now, just reading that sentence, you can tell there’s a major flaw in the premise of this wager…
…but that doesn’t stop a third demon from joining. “I can’t let you boys have all the fun!” And Bret smiles.
The other demons, eager to see how this bet plays out, gather around a disembodied head (notably *not* the guy who got decapitated in that last episode).
Throughout the episode, the head acts as a sort of TV monitor to the human world. Look, I’m not going to try to explain this gag. The only thing that even comes close to making sense in these scenes is that one of the demons appears to be an NBA referee.
On Earth, the first demon poses as an ice cream man and knocks The Immortal over with a bucket of mint chocolate chip.
But The Immortal makes short work of him.
The next demon is one from Rafe’s past in Japan.
She pretends she’s trying to atone for her sins and wants to protect Rafe from Randall the Hitman.
Rafe is less than sympathetic.
Meanwhile, Rafe’s sidekicks look for an apartment that turns out to be trap set by Randall and his real estate agent side-piece from hell.
Don’t worry, they bust through a wall and escape within thirty seconds.
The Japanese demon (from Singapore) lures Rafe into a showdown with Randall, who promptly electrocutes him using coffee and a live wire.
Because these two are idiots, they don’t kill Rafe immediately, but instead chain him up to make him suffer some more before they electrocute him. Uh, again.
Once The Immortal is out of the picture, Randall vows to unleash all sorts of miseries upon the world: lust, rage, coffee, organized labor…
But because there is no honor among thieves, and because she wants to win the bet all by herself, the woman demon secretly breaks Rafe’s shackles…
…allowing him to fight Randall to the death.
Sure enough, Rafe boots the Hitman into a giant tower of power (too sweet to be sour), killing him…
…then immediately stabs the other demon when she tries to sneak up from behind.
Since all three demons lost the bet, they have to do menial labor in Hell’s coffee shop, which draws big laughs.
Hart would get his vengeance on the humans a decade later by unleashing hell on earth…
…but we’ve already inducted that match.