You remember that show about the guy with the strange name who serves justice where the law has abandoned it, and does a job for other people asking them for one million dollars or a future favor in return? And then when another case comes up he reaches out to his past contacts and collects that favor solving the new crime? Come on, it was only 1998! You gotta remember Mr. Chapel.
Short-lived, “Vengeance Unlimited” was a good crime/drama show with a smirk of dark humor here and there, that proved Michael Madsen was not all bikes and booze and delivered an interesting plot to a widely known genre. Though it reminds of “The Equalizer” and “Stingray” in the premise of a mysterious stranger with a foggy past delivering justice, this show had that something special to it, which one could only appreciate after watching. You maybe know what I mean. But then there were “Friends” on air and “Jesse” scoring the 20+ million views, while “Vengeance Unlimited” got below 10k views. And it was canceled by ABC after only 16 episodes.
I remember the show on TV, and years later re-watched it to wake up those vague fading memories. Watching it, it got me thinking, what would it have been had the show survived the cancellation? Or better, what would this show look like if it had been aired yesterday. The sad thing is the show had potential and when I got the chance to ask Mr. Madsen what he thought about it and about whether he would have continued in the role of Mr. Chapel he said he valued the show and was sad it got cut off, but he would have stayed with it. He seemed to like Mr. Chapel. We all did. He’s a very peculiar type of personage and his narrative is intriguing. It’s not Madsen’s typical character; it’s not the male bravado. It’s a very complex man with an intelligent approach and cunning methods in a crusade for justice wrapped in his own mystery and hushed loneliness, but ever fearing for his comrades. And he drives a muscle car. It fitted him perfectly. Makes me want to play an episode again. Hell, they’re on YouTube, somewhere…
I’d be happy to see it today, but truth is the show belongs to the 90’s. It’s part of its charm. It can’t belong in today’s world, because today we have Marvel and DC heroes and crime fighting is at a whole different level. Even CSI and The Mentalist can tell you that. The old-fashioned noir hero of unknown background is long gone and with him the brutal harshness added to normal people’s lives and the injustice they suffer. We have terrorist attacks and mind-bending crime scenes, and nail-biting mysteries, but we don’t have a Mr. Chapel.
It’s his simplicity and normality I sometimes miss in a world of gods and man-made armors, of hibernating super soldiers and superhuman serum, and radioactive ingredients. They’re all cool and I love them, don’t get me wrong. Just once in a while there has to be a man just like you and me with his wits and a few favors in hand to fix somebody’s life.