American Gothic was one of those Brilliant, But Canceled shows that, had it aired during the days of digital downloads and DVRs, might have stood a chance at lasting longer than a season. The show was dark but not morose, supernatural but not woowoo, and starred some stellar actors, including Gary Cole. Yes, the Office Space boss. Gary has a really wide acting range, if you didn’t know, and as the somewhat demonic Sheriff Buck he’s damn sexy.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
American Gothic’s protagonist is 10-year-old Caleb Temple (Lucas Black), who resides in the fiction small town of Trinity, South Carolina. The story begins when Caleb’s life becomes a complete mess — his sister is murdered, his father is accused of said murder, then commits suicide, and the local sheriff has taken an unnatural interest in him. As the story progresses, we learn that Sheriff Buck (Gary Cole) has a deep connection to Caleb, that he’s capable of making bad and good things (of a supernatural nature) happen to the people in town, and he’s pretty damn ruthless. On the “good” side are Caleb’s distant cousin, a reporter from “the city”, a new doctor, also from some city (in the north), and his dead sister, now an angel watching over him.
American Gothic balanced the darker aspects of its storylines with a little humor and mundane, but powerful, scenes that dealt with the hardships of being 10, small town life, and growing up. None of these elements came off as sappy, which is why the show worked.
Caleb is the show’s heart, but Sheriff Buck is its center. His charm and menace are in perfect balance. He’s shown to be cruel and evil, but, in one of my favorite episodes, also shown to be necessary. “Strong Arm Of The Law” illustrates what could happen to Trinity if Buck wasn’t there to “protect” its citizens. It also raises some interesting thoughts about the concept of a necessary evil.
Click over to Fantasy Magazine to see some of this show’s best episodes.