Cult TV Essentials

Cult TV Essentials: Harsh Realm

Inspired by the Harsh Realm comic book series, created by James D. Hudnall and Andrew Paquette, the television show Harsh Realm was brought to us by Chris Carter and debuted in October 1999. It ran for one season of nine episodes.

In the pilot episode, decorated war hero Lieutenant Thomas Hobbes (Scott Bairstow) is about to retire from the military and start a new life with his beloved pregnant fiancée Sophie Green (Samantha Mathis), when the government orders him for one last mission: play the virtual reality situational war game known as “Harsh Realm” and assassinate rogue-soldier-turned-game’s-dictator general Omar Santiago (Terry O’Quinn).  After watching the training video (voiced by an uncredited Gillian Anderson) Hobbes begins the game despite warnings from Hobbes’ rogue predecessor, Mike Pinocchio (D.B. Sweeney) that the game is a trap. Ignoring the warning Hobbes finds himself stuck inside this computer game and all he wants is to get back to the real world and to get back to Sophie.

In the second episode, “Leviathan” Pinocchio and Hobbes are captured by a bounty hunter who cuts a deal with Santiago to barter his prisoners in return for passage back to the real world, but hides the true nature of his trade from girlfriend May (Kate Luyben). Meanwhile back in the real world Sophie is informed by the military that Hobbes has been killed in action but then a mysterious stranger informs her that she does not know the whole story…

Unfortunately the series fared poorly in the ratings and was removed from the schedule after three of its nine episodes had aired. The network had been expecting another X-Files like success so anything less was a let down. The remaining six episodes premiered on the FX Network.

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