Poltergeist: The Legacy is a Canadian/American horror television series which ran from 1996 to 1999. The series tells the story of the members of a secret society known as the Legacy, and their efforts to protect humankind from occult dangers. Despite the Poltergeist name, there seems to be no real connection between the show and the original trilogy aside from it being intended as a spin-off from them.
Poltergeist: The Legacy debuted on Showtime, and all first-run episodes premiered on that network, though they were later syndicated. After the third season, Showtime cancelled the show, though soon after, the rights were purchased by the Sci Fi Channel, which continued the series for another season. This same pattern was later followed by Stargate SG-1, which also debuted on Showtime, was also sold into syndication, and was itself rescued from cancellation by the Sci Fi Channel.
The fourth season of Poltergeist: The Legacy featured an episode starring WWE wrestler The Undertaker as a being from Hell who collected souls - a deliberate cross-over with RAW, which was also airing on the USA Network at the time and earning the network some of the highest ratings on cable TV. It was hoped that this cameo would help boost awareness of the new show, and thus, generate a larger audience (just as USA had attempted to do by having Shawn Michaels appear on Pacific Blue).
Founded in England
(where the Ruling House resides in London
) in the 6th century, the Legacy
was established to collect dangerous and ancient knowledge and artifacts
, solve paranormal
problems and protect humanity
evils. Over time, the membership expanded around the world. As the Legacy grew, it established branches in other cities and countries. Known as Legacy "Houses," these are staffed by small teams of specialist members.
Each house is ruled by a "Precept" who wears a signet ring engraved with a distinctive L (one of the original cast members notes that the whole team had rings and only when a founding team was dissolved or a member lost, the rings were taken off and worn only by the Precept thenceforth). Other houses are mentioned and occasionally seen in the series, but most of the action centers on the San Francisco house.
Dr. Derek Rayne is the Precept of the San Francisco House, set in a castle-like mansion on Angel Island in San Francisco Bay. It works under the guise of the Luna Foundation, a philanthropic institution which collects artifacts and antiquities. Together, the characters of Poltergeist: The Legacy search and uncover a secret world of terror as they resolve to defend the world against evil and darkness.
- Dr. Derek Rayne (played by Derek de Lint) - The Precept of the San Francisco house. Derek is a brilliant scholar with a mysterious background. He is Dutch, and holds doctorates in anthropology and theology. Derek follows in the footsteps of his father, Winston, who was also a Legacy member. Winston was corrupted and killed by supernatural forces when Derek was a teenager, and eventually, that same evil attempts to do the same to Derek himself. Derek also has 'the Sight', a form of precognition that allows him to 'see' things happen before they become real. At times, this allows him to change what he sees.
- Nick Boyle (played by Martin Cummins) - A former Navy SEAL who resigned after his commander caused the deaths of the other men in his unit. His father was a member of the Legacy before him. Nick had a brash and impulsive nature which often caused him to clash with the methodical Derek, although Derek once referred to Nick's lack of respect for the powers of evil as his "greatest strength". He is an expert in weapons and tactics as well as being a skilled investigator, and he becomes Precept at the end of the series.
- Alexandra "Alex" Moreau (played by Robbi Chong) - An African-American woman with psychic abilities that enables her to sense information about people or events by touching objects associated with them. Alex serves the Legacy as a researcher and investigator. She comes from an old Creole family in New Orleans, and her sister also has ESP. Derek was her mentor in college, and it is hinted that they may also have been lovers at that time.
- Father Philip Callaghan (played by Patrick Fitzgerald) - A Roman Catholic priest and linguist from Ireland. Philip is a compassionate man who believes that virtue and faith are the best weapons against evil. He appeared only in the first two seasons of the series.
- Julia Walker (played by Jordan Bayne ) - An investigator who is killed in the pilot episode. Julia was Alex's best friend and Nick's girlfriend, and her death affects the characters up until the end of the series.
- Dr. Rachel Corrigan (played by Helen Shaver) - A psychiatrist who is helped by the Legacy in the pilot episode. Impressed by her skills and strength of character, Derek invited Rachel to join his team. Rachel is a widow with an 8-year-old daughter, Kat. She is as much a skeptic as is possible to be with so many magical occurrences always happening. Rachel also struggles with alcoholism.
- Katherine "Kat" Corrigan (played by Alexandra Purvis) - Rachel's daughter, 8-years-old at the beginning of the series. Though not a member of the Legacy, Kat often visits the mansion and is drawn into many of their adventures. She also has latent psychic powers, and it is hinted in several episodes that she will become a powerful force for either good or evil when she grows to adulthood.
- Kristin Adams (played by Kristin Lehman) - A Harvard anthropologist on leave from the Legacy House in Boston. Kristin joins the cast in the third season, but was never a formal member of the San Francisco house. She was killed in the fourth season episode "Sacrifice".
- William Sloan (played by Daniel J. Travanti) - The head of the Ruling House in London. Very little is revealed about him, except that he has a troubled history with Derek. Sloan was introduced in the second season, and his character recurred a few times before giving himself over to a demon in the episode "Trapped".
The series was created by Richard Barton Lewis
by PMP Legacy Productions
, Showtime Network
Inc., and Trilogy Entertainment Group
. Special effects
were created by Canadian
companies C.O.R.E. Digital Pictures
, Gajdecki Visual Effects
, Lindala Make-Up Effects Inc.
, Rainmaker Digital Pictures
, and the American Pixel Envy
and Velocity Visuals
The series was meant to be a spin-off from the Poltergeist movies though no common storylines or characters were used, except that Zelda Rubenstein, who played the clairvoyant in the films, appears in at least one episode, playing a seer named Christina ("The Reckoning", Season 1, (LegacyWeb episode guide for the episode).
The series was filmed in Vancouver and Victoria, British Columbia, and lasted four seasons of 22 episodes each running from 1996 to 1999.
On February 7, 2006, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
(under license from MGM
) released the first season of Poltergeist: The Legacy
on DVD in Region 1 for the very first time. It is unknown when the remaining 3 seasons will be released, as rights are now held by 20th Century Fox