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A short lived show about an illegal, underground, cross-country, Cannonball Run-style street race, written by Tim Minear and starring Nathan Fillion. Everyone had a reason to be in it, with many of those reasons involving blackmail. It was supposed to mix character study and action, but it didn't last long enough to succeed at the character study, at least not to the level advertised.
This show takes Screwed by the Network to bewildering new levels, though one hopes Fox had good reason for it. The network promoted this series heavily for a couple of months before it aired. But it aired only four episodes... in three different timeslots... over the course of two weeks.
This show's failure is a major reason that Sunday nights on Fox are reserved for animation. And perhaps vice versa.
This show provides examples of:
- All Bikers Are Hells Angels: Subverted; the Badass-looking people riding the black Harley are revealed to be an old couple once they take their helmets off.
- Cool Car: Subverted at first, as most of the characters are entering the race with their own cars, which include a Ford Taurus, an old landscaping truck, and even a minivan. (Only the Salazars' Impala lowrider and the Lairds' Trans Am count.) Then, in episode three, Alex gets that black Dodge Challenger.
- The Pontiac Solstice that Leigh steals also counts. Too bad she can't drive stick...
- Cut Short
- Dick Dastardly Stops to Cheat: As a reward for being the first team to reach the checkpoint in Rome, Georgia, Alex and Corinna are given a chance to skip the next checkpoint in exchange for completing a task. That task turns out to be robbing a bank. It doesn't end well.
- Epic Race
- Eureka Moment: Leigh realizes that the clue to the next checkpoint, "Surrender, America", is a reference to Appomattox Court House in Virginia, where Lee surrendered to Grant, after seeing that the highway is named for a Confederate war hero.
- Guide Dang It: Many of the clues to checkpoints require knowledge of fairly obscure trivia to figure out, which you wouldn't expect to be in the hands of ordinary people running in an underground, cross-country road race.
- "Kennedy killed in '73," accompanied by a countdown. The destination? Cape Canaveral, known as Cape Kennedy until 1973, the name change "killing" the Kennedy name. The countdown was for a shuttle launch.
- "Surrender, America." The destination? Appomattox Court House, Virginia, where Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses S Grant.
- A pair of hot candies with wrappers that say "Atomic Fireball". The destination? The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, with the clue referring to the song "Great Balls of Fire". Made especially frustrating by the fact that Three Mile Island would've been a much more obvious destination, given the clue.
- Hey, It's That Guy!: In addition to Nathan Fillion, this show also starred Melanie Lynskey and a pre-Superbad Emma Stone, and featured an appearance by Minear veteran Katie Finneran as Alex's sister. Amy Acker was also slated to play Alex's wife, but she only got one appearance at the end of the last episode before the show was cancelled.
- Hey, It's That Voice!: Leigh would later go on to slaughter thousands of zombies.
- I Have Your Wife: How Alex is forced into the race.
- Like You Were Dying: John Trimble.
- Long Lost Sibling: The Salazars.
- Loophole Abuse: As punishment for being the last person to cross the first checkpoint in Jupiter, Florida, Wendy is given a gun and told that Ivy, one of her competitors, could not arrive at the next checkpoint in her vehicle. Wendy is too sweet-natured to kill Ivy, so her solution is to convince Ivy to abandon her teammates Susan and Leigh, and partner with her instead. Ain't no rule saying that she had to kill her!
- The Mountains Of Florida
- Not Named in Opening Credits: Dylan Baker for five of the six episodes, despite appearing in all of them. (He finally got moved up to the opening for the finale.) Oddly, Rochelle Aytes, Riley Smith, and Mircea Monroe do appear in the opening credits despite not appearing in all of the episodes.
- Pimped-Out Car: The Salazars' 1964 Impala lowrider, which Winston brags used to be owned by the former leader of the Latin Kings.
- Real Song Theme Tune: "Can't Stop the World" by Gavin Rossdale.
- Screaming Birth: Wendy is in the middle of one when she's introduced.
- Screwed by the Network: And how! The only consolation was that the two unaired episodes they had in the can were eventually released online.
- Shout-Out: Alex's Challenger is a reference to the classic road movie Vanishing Point.
- The War on Terror: Rob Laird is a veteran of the Iraq War. They want him back.
- What Could Have Been: Here is a rough sketch of how the show would have progressed had it not been screwed over. Some highlights:
- Some of the contestants have "sponsors" who got them into the race. Some sponsors have benevolent motives, while others have revenge or other nefarious ideas on their minds. One racer, John Trimble, sponsored himself, looking to have one last thrill before he dies. Other contestants, such as the team of Leigh, Susan and Ivy, were put in as background racers to shake things up, similar to non-player "bots" in a video game.
- John Trimble wasn't actually dying -- in fact, it was his meds that were making him sick. After he finds out that he's going to live, he would've been killed by a bus, simply because, according to Minear, it would've been funny.
- There were various ideas going around as to the identity of the truck driver who killed Susan. The most likely idea would've had it be a former contestant who had been crippled in the race and was now seeking revenge. Other ideas would have been for it to be a faceless serial killer (a la Duel), or have the driver be played by Eliza Dushku.
- Had there been a second season, it would've focused on a new race and new characters, with first season characters taking on new roles in the race.