Picks and Pans Review: Brimstone

UPDATED 11/16/1998 at 01:00 AM EST Originally published 11/16/1998 at 01:00 AM EST

FOX (Fridays, 8 p.m. ET)

A dead cop, serving an afterlife sentence in hell for murdering his wife's rapist, is temporarily sprung by the devil and assigned to track down 113 dangerously evil souls who escaped from the underworld and are now roaming the earth wreaking havoc. The premise of this new series would not seem to promise a barrel of laughs—particularly when you consider that the hunter (Peter Horton, thirtysomething) must send the fugitives back to the hot place by shooting them in the eyeballs. Surprisingly, though, the drama works best when it chooses not to take itself seriously.

Last month's premiere found Horton trailing a demon disguised as a priest. The bogus cleric had been abducting and killing altar boys as part of a bizarre ritual linked to biblical prophecy. There were a few fleeting moments of levity (after 15 years down below, Horton was shocked to learn that baseball had adopted inter-league play), but they seemed out of place in a plot so gruesome. The next episode was easier to take because humor gained almost an equal footing with the requisite unpleasantness. John Glover, at his best when he brings a touch of camp to a villainous part (like his malevolent mogul in Gremlins 2: The New Batch), seemed to be warming to his role as the devil. "Everyone's in such a rush," he complained on a visit to earth. "I say, stop and smell the burning flesh of sinners." There's no telling how tolerable this show could become if Horton spruced up his grungy wardrobe and learned to smile when delivering the occasional bad pun.

Bottom Line: Erratic drama ranges from rather clever to awfully grisly

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