REGULAR CAST, GUEST CAST & CREDITS
TV GUIDE PROMO
AIRING AND RATING INFORMATION
SYNOPSIS 1 by Sally Dye
SYNOPSIS 2 by James Ott
SYNOPSIS 3 by Loretta Miller
COMMENTARY by Loretta Miller
REVIEW from Sci-Fi Wire
JUST MORPHING AROUND
Peter J. Lucas (Mr. Norlas)
Written by Steven L. Sears & Douglas Schwartz
Directed by Jon Cassar (directged numerous pilot episodes, including La Femme Nikita, Amazon and Queen of Swords)
Filmed on location in Orlando, FL and Africa.
TV GUIDE PROMO
Sheena, who has the power to transform herself into animal form, protects a jungle paradise from encroaching civilization.
Sheena and Cutter fight to stop Norliss and his men from blowing up the mountainside as they search for diamonds and gold.
Sheena and Cutter meet. ClickTV
Sheena and Cutter meet for the first time in a most unusual way after Sheena sabotages Cutter's plane and it crashes down into the jungle. Sheenatv.com
AIRING AND RATING INFORMATION
1st RELEASE: 10/02/00
An AA average of 1.9
Competition from Action Hours:
Relic HunterH 1.7
The Immortal .9
This synopsis is by Sally Dye.
A man is being chased through the jungle. He can't see what's chasing him, but he can hear it growling. We get glimpses of it -- it seems to be a dark, man-like creature. He drops a bag that has a gorilla's paw in it. He finally makes it to his boat, but before he can get away, a large silverback gorilla grabs him and kills him. The gorilla looks across the river at the creature that was chasing the man -- but all we see is the creature's eyes.
Mr. Norliss, who identifies himself as a mineral company representative, comes to Cutter Enterprises to offer the owner, Matt Cutter, $15,000 to help find his associate, who has not returned from La Mista, a jungle area at the far end of Cutter's territory. Cutter agrees to help find the guy, but is curious about the crates Mr. Norliss is bringing with him. Norliss discourages his curiosity by burning five hundred dollars of his fee in front of him and asking if he has any more questions.
They fly into the jungle, following a locator that Norliss' associate was wearing. They have to make an emergency landing when a spear comes out of nowhere and pierces the plane's gas tank. When they land, Norliss' men are going to kill Cutter because he sees that the crates contain dynamite, but he gets away, unfortunately running right into quicksand. He is about to be either shot by the men chasing him or sucked down into the quicksand when a gorilla leaps out and saves him, driving the men off and pulling him to safety just in time. Cutter's vision is a little fuzzy, but he sees the gorilla morph into something a little blonder than a gorilla just before he is hit over the head and knocked out.
Sheena drags Cutter into Kali's village. Kali is a shamaness and a healer. Kali's reaction: "Strange. I didn't order a white man." Kali asks Sheena if the man saw her "change". Sheena says he might have. Kali knows who Cutter is. She tells Sheena that he brings tourists into the jungle looking for darak'na, a legendary creature seen by no one. Kali says he will be fine. Sheena says she didn't ask and doesn't care. Sheena then returns to her cave home deep in the jungle.
Cutter asks who brought him to the village, but Kali just tells him of a legend of an orphaned white girl who became one with the animals and now protects them.
Norliss and his crew are blasting, looking for diamonds. Two of the men are attacked by a creature that they don't see clearly. Cutter comes along and knocks out one of them, and the creature grabs him, but doesn't kill him. He sees that the darkness on its skin rubs off, and he thinks the eyes look familiar, but it gets away before he can see what it is. He follows the creature to Norliss' camp, where it shoots a burning arrow into the dynamite, blowing up Cutter's plane.
Cutter is sitting at his campfire that night and hears a rustling in the jungle. It is Sheena, still covered in her mud "creature" disguise. She says she needs to borrow his waterfall. He tells her to feel free, and she strips and washes the mud off in the waterfall. Cutter is amazed by her, and makes the connection between Sheena and the story Kali told him.
Cutter tells Sheena he saw her "change". She starts to deny it but then admits that Kali taught her the mantra, which allows her to change into animal form by looking into an animal's eyes. She is the darak'na.
The next morning Cutter is awakened by a chimpanzee. He meets Sheena, who tells him that she called in a favor and asked the chimp to keep him warm during the night. She tells Cutter to go back to the village while she takes care of Norliss and his men, but he tags along anyway and is caught in a snare. As he swings upside down, he warns Norliss and company that they better watch out for the darak'na: "You ever hear of the terminator? The predator?" Then as Sheena walks calmly into the camp, he adds, "Ever hear of Miss Minnesota?"
Sheena tells Norliss she wants them all out of her jungle. They are not impressed, but she suddenly leaps into action and begins fighting them all at once. She also manages to cut Cutter down. The two of them jump into the river and the crocodiles help them escape.
Sheena and Cutter go to Sheena's cave home. A leopard is waiting there. Sheena says she needs the leopard's heightened senses in the dark. While Cutter watches, Sheena looks into the leopard's eyes and morphs into a leopard herself.
Norliss and his assistant are trying to find the diamonds in a rock passage. They are interrupted by growling and can't tell where it's coming from. They come to a chasm and try to make their way around it, but the assistant falls in with a little help from Norliss. Cutter comes along and he and Norliss fight. Cutter is about to fall into the pit when Sheena arrives, first in leopard form and then morphing back into human form. She fights Norliss, but has to choose whether to stop him or save Cutter. She saves Cutter, and Norliss escapes.
Norliss is running through the jungle when he sees one of his crew hanging in a tree, apparently dead. Suddenly the rogue silverback gorilla grabs him and we hear him scream.
Norliss' remaining men are rounded up, and Cutter offers to drop them at the ranger station. He promises Sheena that he won't reveal the secret of the darak'na. Cutter leaves, swatting at a fly and then wondering if it could have been Sheena. Fade out with Sheena walking away into the jungle.
This synopsis is by James Ott.
Man running from an unseen jungle presence, escapes across a small river only to be killed unexpectedly by a large, gray Gorilla.
At Cutter Enterprises, Matt Cutter (Pilot) gets patched up by Tourism Partner, Kevin, when a man enters the Business. He introduces himself as Mr. Norlis who represents Agmus, a large, well known Mineral Mining Corporation. Norlis hires Cutter to fly his group into the Jungle for $15 Grand in U.S. Dollars. After shooting at some zebras, someone (Sheena) heaves a spear through the plane's tail rudder which forces an abrupt landing. Once on the ground, the Charter Group unloads a few cases of dynamite. The second order of business is to kill Cutter who is shot escaping and later falls into a quicksand pit when a gorilla disperses the two pursuing henchmen pulling him out of danger. In a dazed state, Cutter witnesses the Gorilla turn into a beautiful, blond woman (Sheena). Sheena drags him into the local village where the Chaman tends to his wounds.
During a conversation with the Chaman (Cali), she retells the Legend of the Durakna, "There was a story once of a young, white girl, her parents killed, she wanders in the Jungle. She lived with the animals, became one with them, became savage, kind, knowing, innocent . . .and she declared herself the enemy of people who would invade her world. The origin of this Legend wasn't so much a monster as a protector."
Seismic tests with the dynamite point to an area rich in petroleum, gold and diamonds networked wit a number of natural underground tunnels. Sheena, unmorphed from a black panther, scales a tree, shoots a flaming arrow into the dynamite boxes blowing up Cutter's plane in the ensuing explosion. Later that evening, Sheena shows up at Cutter's campsite. She uses the cascading waters to shower off the mud camouflage while conversing with Cutter. Cutter explains that he's not part of the Bad Guy's plans and not her enemy. He turns to see a disrobed beauty in front of his eyes. The next morning, Sheena admits to Cutter she is the Durakna and did transform from an animal to human form. The following exchange took place:Sheena: "Cali taught me to reach the animal spirit inside me. We call it the Manta. I connect through the eyes, then I grow fangs. I can't stay that way for long; I'll carry a part of it with me when I change back. If I'm a lion, give me a minute before you say hello."
Cutter: "You can talk to the animals?"
Sheena: "Of course not, at least not the way we do."
Cutter: "But you get the message across?"
Sheena: "They're my friends."
Cutter: "Are all the animals your friends?"
Sheena: "All except the rogues, they kill for pleasure like the silver-backed gorilla on the other side of the river. Not all gorillas are rogues."
Sheena and Cutter move along the outskirts of the Agmus group beach encampment. Cutter walks out to an empty campsite and reaches for his money which is rigged to a ropetrap leaving him hanging upside down. The thugs gather around their catch when Sheena boldly walks among them. Norlis dismisses Sheena's warning. Suddenly Sheena dispatches all four of them, frees Cutter and they escape into crocodile infested waters.
Norlis and the Seismologist head into the labyrinth of caves in search of diamonds. They come across a bottomless pit in their path. Norlis crawls past to the other side but the Seismologist slips. While hanging on the edge, Norlis cruelly grabs the tunnel map from his backpack, letting him fall to his doom. Cutter enters the area from the other side of the cave. The two men tangle and Cutter ends up hanging onto the precipice for dear life. Sheena arrives, knocks Norlis down where she chooses to save Cutter as the bad guy escapes.
Norlis runs into the expired and bloody Agmus explorer hanging upside down from a tree. The Grey Gorilla had set a trap and swiftly kills his prey, Norlis.
With the remaining thugs tied up in the background, Cutter explains he's taking them to the Ranger station downriver and calms Sheena by saying, "Don't worry, no one will believe their story." With money in hand, Cutter says, "If you see a shiny new plane landing, it might be me." Sheena replies, "The next time you see a leopard creeping toward you, it might not be me."
This synopsis is by Loretta Miller.
Sheena (played by Gena Lee Nolin), a beautiful woman, orphaned as a young child in the jungle was taken in and raised by the Kaya tribe. There she developed the skill, called the Manta, of being able to "connect" with an animal through its eyes. She can then morph into an exact copy of that animal, taking on all its primal instincts that she uses to her advantage. "Sheena lived with the animals, became one with them, became savage and kind, knowing and innocent. The Drak'na of this legend isn't so much a monster as a protector." And so goes the theme of the show.
In the series opener we meet Matt Cutter(played by John Allen Nelson), an entreprenuer and owner of Cutter Enterprises. A pilot, he offers his customers either "a low flying aerial tour" or a "search for the primative legend". His plane is hit by an unseen assailant flinging a well-aimed spear at his wing and they crash. His clients quickly reveal the true nature of their flight: they're after a billion dollars of diamonds hidden in the nearby mountains.
Matt handily fights his assailants and knowing that the odds are against him (good going!) he races off only to fall into quicksand and it looks like he's a goner. When suddenly a gorilla yanks him out of the goo just in the nick of time and in his disoriented state sees the gorilla morph into a beautiful girl. Or was that his eyes playing tricks on him? He passes out and Sheena drags him into her village to see the Shaman Kali, (played by Margo Moorer). She professes not to care about him but Kali thinks otherwise and smiles. It's a good sign, it's the first time she's shown her that she cares about something or someone.
Meanwhile, those pesky bad guys are blowing a path through the jungle to the treasure using TNT. Sheena, our protector, changes into the Drak'na (a long haired, mud encrusted person with talon-like claws) that ably uses a bow & arrow to ignite their stash of TNT and not only blows up the TNT but Matt's plane as well.
Sheena understands and speaks English readily (was taught by Kali and reads books) and she knows the area better than anyone. She takes Matt into her "home", which is one of the underground tunnels that the bad guys just so happen to be taking. Sheena morphs into a tiger for their keen eyesight in the dark that she needs. Matt winds up fighting the men that she scares their direction with her new "growl". Matt falls over the edge of a cliff, bottomless from what it seemed as one bad guy made the trip just a few moments before, and hangs perilously by his fingers. The "leader" bad guy starts crushing his fingers only then getting pounced on by Sheena/Lion. Sheena quickly morphs back to a woman as the fight is quickly over and the bad guy yells, "Make a choice." Sheena chooses Matt and yanks him up and out of pit and onto safe ground. Sheena explains how she can morph and how she cannot stay that way too long" and when she "comes out of it" she may have lingering affects. Sheena intrigues Matt who tells her that he'll keep her secret. Matt is walking off and he swats at a bug on his neck and then quickly asks the smashed varmit, "Sheena? Is that you?" He quickly dismisses the possibility and throws the now deceased insect to the ground.
This commentary is by Loretta Miller.
As a long fan of Xena: Warrior Princess and the writing of Stephen L. Sears, I had looked forward to seeing his creation and I like it. While the opener doesn't delve much into Sheena, leaving her personality to be explored and left as a mystery. We get to know her cohort "Matt Cutter" (played by John Allen Nelson) well. He is an entreprenuer that has long used the legend of "the Drak'na" to keep his aviation business soaring. He is well-written and a multi-faceted personality. We understand him as he tries to survive this mess and as he wrestles with his feelings.
We are only beginning to understand Sheena. I'm sure that the answers to our questions will be answered as we go. Frankly, I think that's a good approach. Keep things a mystery and keep the interest piqued all the more. While Matt's business thrives on the legend continuing, and he'll keep Sheena's secret safe, I felt a beginning of a friendship here. A relationship that perhaps Sheena has never investigated before.
Random thoughts: Sheena's reading of "The Naked Ape"...hysterical! The bit at the end with Matt swatting at the insect and then thinking it was Sheena: that was brilliant! Have Matt "spooned" by a monkey and Sheena reporting that she "called in a favor"...G!
Bloopers or Eyebrow Lifters: Matt was in that icky quicksand goo and then suddenly not only is his white t-shirt clean, but the pants he's wearing looked utterly unscathed! Later he changes from the white t-shirt to a khaki one to a sleeveless blue one. I don't recall him having a bag with him and all of these changes happened AFTER the plane blew up! (That's thinking he had a ditty bag in the storage compartment for just such scenarios--G)
Overall, I liked it very much. I liked the music and was a little surprised that Stephen didn't have Joe LoDuca doing the music for Sheena as well. (I'm sure Xena takes up Joe's time already...but it was a nice thought) I look forward to the next episodes and the development of the characters even further.
This commentary is from Sci-Fi Wire.
Sheena. Queen of the TV jungle
Starring Gena Lee Nolin and John Allen Nelson
Created By Douglas Schwartz and Steven L. Sears
Premiered the week of Oct. 2
By Kathie Huddleston
Matt Cutter (Nelson) makes his living flying tourists over the African jungle, often in search of the legendary Darak'na. He knows it's just a myth, but the legend of a fierce shapeshifting beast has been good to him.
Hired by a mineral company to find a missing scientist, Matt becomes suspicious of his employer, Norliss (Peter J. Lucas). After Matt's plane nearly goes down in an uncharted area known as La Mistas, he confronts Norliss about his true mission. He barely escapes the confrontation with his life.
On the run from Norliss and his lackeys, Matt stumbles into quicksand. Just as he's about to go under, a gorilla pulls him out of the pit. Dazed, he sees the gorilla turn into a beautiful woman. Then he's knocked unconscious.
He wakes to find he's been patched up by Kali (Margo Moorer), the last living member of the Kaya tribe. She tells him a tale about an orphaned white girl who grew up in the jungle among the animals. The girl learned to transform herself into different wild animals by feeling the spirits of their souls. But this girl, this Darak'na, is no monster. She is the protector of her African paradise home, which she will defend from those who seek to destroy it.
As Matt makes his way back to his plane, he runs into the legend herself, and she is no beast. She is Sheena, a well-spoken, gorgeous blonde woman whom Kali raised. Sheena admits her abilities and agrees to help Matt against Norliss and his crew. Matt knows that taking care of Norliss isn't going to be easy. Norliss has discovered diamonds, and he's not about to let Matt or the Darak'na stand in his way.
Sheena, bubblegum hero
Based on the comic books of the '30s and '40s, Sheena is another entry in the female-action-hero derby. It's no surprise that the Sheena show was dreamed up by one of the creators of Baywatch (Schwartz) and by one of Xena: Warrior Princess's producers (Sears). What Schwartz and Sears have done is throw one part Xena and five parts Baywatch into a blender and pressed purée. They top it off by casting the physically blessed Nolin in the title role.
There's only one problem. Either Nolin can't act or she's being poorly directed. Nolin maintains a blank look through most of the pilot episode, and when her big dramatic moment comes-- admitting that she's the shapeshifting legend--she looks as if she's broken a nail. While no Lucy Lawless, Nolin does much better with the action stuff. When she takes on the bad guys, she demonstrates only the appropriate amount of silliness for this kind of show.
The producers wisely surrounded her with solid actors. Nelson plays Matt, the charming rogue who catches Sheena's eye, and Moorer is wonderful as Kira.
It's all pretty harmless. But a TV series about a shapeshifting Darak'na could do a better job in the special-effects department. Considering the morphing techniques available today, it's surprising that the show can't come up with something more impressive in the scenes that show Sheena's transformation.
Sheena doesn't do a thing for the African jungle except perpetuate the Hollywood fantasy. It doesn't help women's rights. It's not good dramatically. What Sheena does offer is plenty of action and a lot of intentional and unintentional humor. It's bubblegum entertainment about a beautiful person running around in skimpy clothing, which is what made Baywatch the most popular program in the world.
With a 22-episode commitment, anything can happen. However, it seems unlikely there will ever be more Xena and less Baywatch in this queen of the jungle. -- Kathie
JUST MORPHING AROUND
10-04-00. Director Jon Cassar has also directed numerous pilot episodes, including La Femme Nikita, Amazon and Queen of Swords.