“When the television audiences are tuned in, everything will appear as it truly is - pure drivel.”
– William Blake on Paradise Lost
The series, created by John Milton, Shakespeare of the Puritans, ran for twelve episodes over a single season before it was abruptly cancelled despite critical acclaim and plenty of gratuitous cleavage. The assumption has been made that it failed because of an incoherent script, but scholars claim that it was just too literate for the general population.
Two competing resort destinations, Eden Beach and Pandemonium, are locked in an unending battle for tropical supremacy, eternal revenue of the tourist's soul and the proliferation of citrus smoothies, dividing Paradise Island and exploiting its pristine conditions.
God, the seemingly omnipotent CEO of Eden Beach, possesses capitalistic ventures across His own green Earth -- The First Bank of God, Good God Crisps Wafer & Cracker Factory, God's Word Publishing Company, Jehovah Springs mineral water, God-Mart, God's Own Salad Dressings, The God Complex, God Investments, Inc. -- and as such is unduly stressed, prone to excessive hissy fits and exhibits an overtly judgemental attitude which threatens to undermine his bottom line. His Son, a pacifistic revolutionary, seems more interested in the island's foliage than taking over His Father's business.
God's competitor and former employee, a fiery upstart named Satan, compensates for his lack of experience with a fierce ignorance of ethical business standards, a preternatural knack for public relations and a continuous intake of brimstone martinis. Attempting to appropriate Eden Beach's guests and overthrow God's monopoly on tourism, Satan enacts a series of increasingly elaborate schemes featuring pyrotechnics, clever disguises and tasty fruit baskets.
Adam and Eve
Adam and Eve, a young and morally ambiguous jetsetting couple, arrive on Paradise Island and are immediately snatched up by God and whisked to Eden Beach. Initially impressed by the majestic facade, the pair soon learns that with God every silver lining has a storm cloud of corruption as His authoritarianism runs amok. Can their vacation be salvaged under the rule of such an oppressive host or will they fall to temptation and relocate to Satan's hedonistic resort? This much is known -- misunderstandings amass, clothing is shed and hilarity almost certainly ensues.
The Main Cast
- Samuel L. Jackson as God - After reviewing the source material and character study, the casting director could think of no vocal chords more acclimated to fits of intense rhetoric and the spouting of angry Bible verses. It was initially questioned whether some television audiences would accept an African-American God, but the problem was quickly resolved through a combination of trick photography and the drowning out of every scene Mr. Jackson appeared in with intensely bright spotlights.
- Christopher Walken as Satan - Drawing from his prolific experience and talent in acting, dancing, looking evil and going overboard, it was rumoured that Christopher Walken became so engrossed in the role of Satan that he had his fingertips sharpened, registered with the Republican Party and began to hiss in his sleep. It should be noted that Mr. Walken's contract expressly stipulated that no filming was to be done near the waters of Catalina Island.
- David Schwimmer as Adam - Eager to rebound after a string of terribly inane projects, former Friends star David Schwimmer played the role of Adam as a nervous, bumbling everyman, revealing the scope of his acting ability. In an example of life imitating art, Mr. Schwimmer had one of his ribs removed, though this had little to do with his work on the series.
- Fiona Apple as Eve - After a highly creative and talented, hence underappreciated, musical career, Fiona Apple changed gears and channeled her angst and depression into the role of the woman who turned the world into "bullshit". Psychoanalysis alone was not enough to help Ms. Apple deal with this state of self-confliction and her mental condition wouldn't improve without the use of a mysterious Extraordinary Machine, used to free Fiona from something or other.
- ??? as The Son - In one of the greatest television contrivances of all time, the character of God the Son was never clearly visible on-camera, only heard through off-camera dialogue or seen hiding behind a bamboo fence. Naturally this created much speculation and internet buzz as to who was responsible for the portrayal, with many theorizing that series creator John Milton had played the role because of financial constraints brought on by the excessive salary demands of the other cast members, though others believe that Jesus played himself but acted under a pseudonym.
Comparison and Contrivances
Frequently compared to the sterling primetime soap opera Aeneid, the story of Italian basketball legend Greasy Aeneas and the stern but affable Coach Virgil, Paradise Lost used many of the same devices such as heavily convoluted plotlines, flashbacks within flashbacks within flashbacks, rampant lesbianism, subliminal product placement, archaic vernacular-shaped nationalistic propaganda, implied moral decay (including simulated bacchanalia and voodoo limbo competitions), a series of increasingly argumentative soliloquies, a liberal throwing of fisticuffs, indecently placed cliffhangers, computer-generated palm trees and a script written in blank verse, or written devoid of any complex human emotions to make the characters appear one-dimensional, just to prove Euclid wrong.
Paradise Found... The Spinoff
Considering the lukewarm ratings generated by Paradise Lost, it seemed ill-conceived to attempt the creation of a spinoff, yet witlessness never stopped Fox. This time, the story followed Jesus and Satan as they moved from Paradise Island, now decimated under the weight of capitalism, to The Paradise Arms Apartments in New York City. Lasting only four episodes before its inevitable cancellation, Paradise Found saw this pair argue their way through a series of misadventures, many of which could be construed as zany. There was the incident with the broken conveyor belt at the chocolate factory - who knew Jesus could stuff that many candies into His cheek, only to turn the other cheek and cram in even more? Or Satan's dinner party - inebriated guests nearly rioted when the food and alcohol ran out, forcing Jesus to work his magic and transform their pet koi into sushi and the toilet into a fountain of beer. How about "The Dare", in which Satan and Jesus goad each other into increasingly dangerous situations, eventually leading them to the top of The Empire State Building... c'mon Jesus, betcha won't jump. And the unforgettable camping trip... forty days in the desert, Jesus just keeps on muttering something about "spiritual thirst" and Satan eats a peyote button and starts chasing an elusive blue roadrunner that only he can see. "Mheep mheep" indeed.
Other Fox Programming
- Sin Swap -- Two couples, seven sexy sins... but which one is deadly?
- War on Humor -- Is there anything more violent than religion? Maybe polar bears. This show's got both.
- Doctor Faustus, M.D. -- Want yet another show about a German doctor? Have we got a deal for you.
- Boned -- Wait, the President of America did what in a coffin? And that other guy, too? Man, we sure are Boned.
- Cellulite Closet -- A houseful of obesity and a hoagie. Who will eat it?
- That's Syndication! -- The show about egalitarianism.