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TV Review: Not much is special in 'Special Unit 2'

Wednesday, April 11, 2001

By Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV Editor

It's true that "Special Unit 2" is not bad compared to the rest of the shows on UPN. That is, if you take "not bad" to mean dull and derivative.

"Special Unit 2"

When: 8 tonight on WNPA.

Starring: Alexondra Lee, Michael Landes.


This low-budget cross between "The X-Files" and "Men in Black" wants to yuk it up one minute and incite fear the next. It fails on both counts.

Chicago cop Kate Benson (Alexondra Lee) always has suspected paranormal creatures and activities swirl around her, but she's never had proof until meeting Special Unit 2 officer Nick O'Malley (Michael Landes), a monster hunter.

Nick takes her to the secret unit's station house (located beneath a dry cleaner) and introduces her to the squad's one-handed leader, Capt. Page (Richard Gant), who deputizes her to help find gargoyles that are abducting Chicago residents.

Kate also meets Carl the gnome (Danny Woodburn), who runs into Page's office screaming "Die! Die! Die!" only to be shot by the good captain 12 times. Carl doesn't die, though. He's a link, a creature that slipped through the cracks of evolution (similar to the plot of ABC's short-lived drama "Prey"). Unlike the killer gargoyles, Carl is a snitch on his own kind who works with the humans.

Carl and Nick don't get along, with Nick constantly threatening to kill Carl. But it's hard to take Nick seriously because he comes across as a sleepy-eyed, nasally voiced wimp.

"Special Unit 2" (8 tonight on Pittsburgh's WNPA) is utterly forgettable. Even the special effects are lackluster. Sometimes what you don't see is scarier than what you do see, but on "Special Unit 2" when creatures lurk in the shadows, you get the feeling they're being hidden to save on production costs.

Lee (last seen as one of Bailey's girlfriends on "Party of Five") is fine as curious Kate, but as Nick, Landes seems woefully miscast. Sometimes growing stubble on your chin isn't enough to fit the tough-guy mold.

"Special Unit 2" plods along most of the time. Scenes with Carl, unsavory though they sometimes are, give the show life, but only a little.

On a network that airs wrestling and the worst "Star Trek" series ever, "Special Unit 2" is "not bad," but there's certainly nothing special about it.

Rob Owen can be reached at 412-263-2582 or rowen@post-gazette.com. Post questions or comments about TV to www.post-gazette.com/tv under PG Online Talk.

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