In the fall of 1995, UPN was still an upstart network-less than a year old and limited to just 4 hours of original programming a week. They had a hit-Star Trek Voyager-but little else to recommend them. The network's fall debuts, Deadly Games, Nowhere Man and Live Shot, represented a huge step forward in quality over the sad January lineup that included Platypus Man and Pig Sty even though none of them made it to a second season and only Nowhere Man lasted more than 13 episodes.
Deadly Games, a tale of a video game come to life (or, as TV Guide put it, "'Tron' in reverse"), had the additional cache of having Leonard Nimoy (Star Trek's Mr. Spock) as Executive Producer. The network hoped the show, which aired Tuesday's at 8:00, would appeal to both kids and adults, and it had potential, but audiences of all ages ultimately deemed it too silly and pointless. Opposite powerhouse sitcoms Roseanne and Wings, Deadly Games was gone after only 12 episodes (a 13th episode was filmed but never aired in this country).
Deadly Games starred James Calvert as the scientist, Gus Lloyd, who programmed a video game for his own amusement in which "The Cold Steel Kid" (himself) took on the villains and bullies of his own life. The villains all worked under the direction of evil mastermind Sebastian Jackal, played with panache by Christopher Lloyd (Taxi, "Back To The Future"). Gus' ex-wife Lauren (Cynthia Gibb) was the video game (and TV series) love interest. Like Batman, the big draw (to the extent there was one) was seeing who would appear as the Guest Villain week to week-from Shirley Jones as an icy Mother-In-Law to LaVar Burton as the boss from hell to Anthony Michael Hall as a sadistic camp counselor. In the pilot episode, "Killshot", SF 49ers Runningback Tom Rathman played a slow-witted jock who tossed explosive footballs and was intent on blowing up the Superbowl.
The show was far from a classic, but it was fun and there's far too little of that these days. Well worth revisiting.