The Checklist: Marker (S1 Ep6) “From Russia Without Love”
In this edition of The Checklist I’m going to take a look at Marker, a television series that I’m sure most of you never even heard of. Up until a few months ago I too was among the Marker oblivious.
Marker starred Richard Grieco as Richard DeMorra, a man who grew up estranged from his father. His father lived in Hawaii and was a self-made millionaire. After Richard’s father passes away, Richard learns about a strange inheritance left to him. During his lifetime, Richard’s father would give special people in his life a marker which they could call in at any time when they were in need. Richard decides to honor his father’s legacy by helping those who call in their markers.
Marker debuted on the UPN network in January of 1995. The show was the brain child of Stephen J. Cannell, the mastermind behind shows like The Rockford Files, Riptide, The A-Team and Renegade. But unlike those shows, Marker did not have a long run. In fact, it only ran for 13 episodes.
So I decided to watch an episode of this short lived series and put it to The Checklist test to see if I could figure out why the show didn’t catch on…
1. Was there sufficient star power?
Richard Grieco was no stranger to the television audience. Grieco’s role as Officer Dennis Booker on 21 Jump Street had the ladies swooning. When 21 Jump Street ended, he continued on as Dennis Booker in the Booker spin-off (Both also Cannell creations). From there Grieco branched out into films like If Looks Could Kill and Mobsters. So by 1995, Grieco had more than established his name and built a fan base that would love to invite Grieco into their living rooms once a week.
But Grieco did not have to carry the show himself, Gates McFadden, fresh off her run on the popular Star Trek: The Next Generation series, was a key character on Marker. McFadden played Kimba, she was the second wife of Richard DeMorra’s father and now finds herself working along side Richard as he fulfills the promises his father made. 1/1
2. Did the premise have legs?
Marker used a proven formula… a hero helping people in need. This worked time and time again in shows like Knight Rider, Quantum Leap, The A-Team, Highway to Heaven, The Equalizer and countless others. The fact that the people in need had actual marker chips with the distinct rose logo of the DeMorra family business was a unique aspect to the show. And there was no telling how many of these markers Richard DeMorra’s father gave out so this show could have conceivably went on for years and years. 2/2
3. Were there any notable guest stars?
With only 13 episodes to choose from, I did not have a lot to work with. But the episode titled “From Russia Without Love” grabbed my attention, partially because the title played off a classic James Bond film but more so due to one of the guest stars… one of my all-time favorites, Michael Worth (Fists of Iron).
In “From Russia Without Love” Worth plays a rambunctious Navy SEAL named Clint. Clint had worked for Richard’d father on the weekends when he was stationed in Hawaii. After Clint found himself involved in an immigration scam where he would be paid to marry a Russian woman named Irina in order for Irina to get a green card… funny thing happened however, Clint and Irina actually fell in love. Then a not so funny thing happened, the Russian mob was behind the whole thing and now Irina is being force to work at a strip club and entertain high profile clients. Clint wants the love of his life back, so he calls in his marker.
An interesting note, Michael Worth actually had to miss out on portraying one of The Flying Graysons in Batman Forever because he was filming this episode of Marker in Hawaii.
Another notable guest star was John Vernon of Animal House fame. Vernon plays the head Russian mobster who is ruining the lives of Irina and several other young women. With Vernon and Worth in this episode, it turned out to be a mini-Acapulco H.E.A.T. reunion, only this time Worth and Vernon were on opposite sides. 3/3
4. Did the show have a catchy theme song?
I don’t know if I could categorize the Marker theme song as catchy, but it did have a unique island sound and it was co-written by Richard Grieco himself. I have to commend Grieco’s commitment to the show and going all in. 4/4
5. Was there any eye candy?
Sex sells in the entertainment world. Set in the paradise known as Hawaii, I’m imagining plenty of Marker episodes featured bikini clad beauties gracing the screen. But even in “From Russia Without Love” an episode devoid of beach action, we did get some strip club action…over the air TV strip club action, but strip club action none the less which meant beautiful women gyrating!
And for the ladies… I’m sure they were still swooning over Richard Grieco in 1995, plus the fresh faced Michael Worth and his piercing green eyes. 5/5
- Final Score: 5/5 (100%) To me Marker had all the necessary ingredients to be a long running series. I’m sure ratings played a factor, but what kind of ratings was the fledgling UPN network bringing in? If I had to guess, I would say filming the show in Hawaii was not cost effective, so unless the ratings were way beyond anyone’s expectations for a show airing on UPN, it was probably difficult to justify spending the money to produce the show if the ad revenue was not there to pay for it. It is a shame and I would categorize Marker as a show that was cancelled too soon.