Vengeance Unlimited was absolutely ahead of its time. Today, I think that it would be a major hit, especially on one of the "edgier" networks (FX, TNT, Showtime.) VU would fill the vacuum that exists today for complex, thought-provoking material on the big three "traditional" networks, with their inane reality shows and copycat, formulaic dramas.
VU's strength was in its writing and acting. The basic premise created a moral question: what does one do when the justice system fails (as it often does)? The quest for justice is a basic human need, and Mr. Chapel tackles the question head on. The cases are complicated, with no patently simple solutions. The viewers actually have to think about the ethical issues involved, and follow the fiendishly clever plot. The show did not sermonize. In the midst of hunting for justice, Chapel had some of the funniest, wildest, and over-the-top lines ever written for TV. You might have had to exercise your brain, but you'd be laughing while you did. Michael Madsen's acting was some of the best ever seen on TV. This was a brilliant series that was cancelled far too soon.
This show, for UK viewers, was buried at, oh, 3am on a Saturday/Sunday morning on channel four. It was sheer fluke that I caught it, but so glad I did!
The idea of the show was that a person who had suffered an injustice that had gone unpunished would receive an anonymous note offering 'Vengence Unlimited'. They would then receive a visit from Mr Chapel, who would offer to help them get justice in exchange for either One million dollars, or, somewhere down the line, a single favour. Of course, none of the victims could afford that, so this left a very good trail of people in varying positions and authority to help right other people's wrongs later in the show. The first episode followed a quest to set up the murderer of a mother, who was freed by a corrupt lawyer. Kathleen York's character was introduced as just another person who owes Chapel a favour for, Unlike the other people he had helped though, at the end of the first episode she tracked him down help him help others. This was a good vehicle for Michael Madson, as he got to play his usual cool likable rogue but as a good guy, so not someone to be killed off at the end! The plots were intelligent, and it was always fun to try and work out how he would finally the bad guy. Another one to chalk up on the 'why did they cancel this?!' list.
One cannot express the need for more shows like this. It taught moral lessons in creative ways that would stick to you and remind you to be good. Mr. Chapel was the essence of justice, comic book characters could only dream of being that cool. But like all masterpieces subjected to ABC, it was doomed from the git-go. And us poor loyal network viewers were subjected to reality shows that treated people 10x worse than Mr. Chapel would. Yet he was the bad guy? Boo to you ABC, good thing CSI airs on CBS or it would have failed too.
Chapel would be the person to contact or be contacted by in need of help. Anywhere from someone trying to sell you a bogus house to having a loved one murdered. He's the man to get the revenge for you, for a price or a favor for another.
I absolutely loved this show. I still talk about it to this day. I was very disappointed when the show went away. Most people I talk to have never heard of it, but when I start telling them about it, it really peaks there interest. On a positive note, I did manage to tape most of the episodes, but it would be so much better to have it on DVD. The Monopoly money one sticks in my mind so well. I just loved the look on that guys face when he saw everyone paying with Monopoly money. And then the look on his face when he was told it was Monopoly money. Anybody that has ever seen this show is nodding there heads right now, and picturing that look on his face. Please, help to put this show on DVD. It would be great to have it all, as I am sure I missed 1 or 2 episodes in my taping them.
I sorely miss this show. It was a cut above normal tv fare and presented a morally conflicted character in a responsible and intriguing way. As our nation faces another year imbroiled in a war we entered for "vengeance" it is a current topic that needs to be discussed. When is it okay to take the law in to one's own hands? Do the ends justify the means? Would we truly feel safer if we knew there was someone like Mr. Chapel who was willing to exact his own brand of vengeance or would it lead to anarchy? Television is the medium that transcends all boundaries - it was nice that for a while it was used to address issues that were of concern to all of us. A complete shame this show is not still on the air and instead the networks serve us up another round of brainless "reality" shows demonstrating the worst in human behaviour.
When the situation is messed up and the world is going wrong, who better to have step in quietly & restore some offbeat balance? Mr Chapel, a sophisticated talented unknown hero with dark humor & intricately thought out plans.
A good guy with a black hat and sophisticated dark humor...Michael Madsen rocked as Mr Chapel, both enjoyable and memorable. Kathleen York as his irrepressable assistant fit the picture well and as a whole the show was an undiscovered "diamond in the ruff". Unorthodox solutions to bad/twisted events seemed to bring everything round to a kind of balance that felt..good.
He did not ride in on a white stallion to save the day, but rather appeared to assist a good person out of a bad place or set balance back after something had gone terribly wrong.
Unusual for it's time, very inventive and surprisingly well written for dark wit...Michael Madsen as Mr Chapel was something that you should have seen and if you didn't...you missed an awesome series that was way too short lived for all it's strengths (which was did not only include Mr Madsen).
If you get the chance, by all means, watch the show.
I can't believe it was cancelled as fast as it was. I love Michael Madsen in this show..I think now with all the other "violent" shows on this would fit right in..plus they wouldn't be competing with "Friends" anymore for the ratings :). If anyone who matters reads this..please bring this back!!
Vengence Unlimited is one of the few short lived shows that I can honestly say that I became highly ticked off when it was cancelled.
Michael Madsen is best known for his role as the demented, ultra-violent Mr. Blonde, in Quentin Tarantino's edgy hit "Reservoir Dogs." He might come off as being rather brash and hardnosed - but it has to be said that the man can definitely act!
The stories were solid and strong. The cast was memorable. If ABC had only given it a proper chance, it may have become another hit drama for them. Alas, this wasn't the case. Axed after only 16 episodes, VU was left to fend for itself. Particularly since it wasn't even promoted like some of the other dramas ABC had on the air at the time.
The show was definitely abit more violent than the usual Mickey Mouse Channel fair, but I guess I can only wish that one day HBO or Showtime might decide to pick it up. One day, please. Preferably before Madsen becomes too geriatric to portray Mr. Chapel - the man with an offer to bring justice to those who have been wronged.
Michael Madsen is one of my favorite actors. In my personal opinion, he's very good at playing bad guys, just as he did in "Reservoir Dogs". Well, this time he is a good guy and he helps people. The most interesting thing is how he does it. Those of you who liked his role in "Reservoir Dogs" should be more than pleased. In "Vengeance Unlimited" he annoys or frames the actual bad guys. He never uses violence and in my opinion that's one of the main advantages of this show. The episodes are very interesting. Each one of them tells a different story, although there are some similarities. It's a shame that the show ended with just one season.
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