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LEVEL 9 All you'll ever
need to know!

from Cult Times #71

The Premise:
If there’s hi-tech computer crime going on, Level 9 is the department to take care of it. A secret government organization of ace hackers and detectives works on cases which require a new level of policing. While some of the team keep tabs on things via computer at home base, the rest are field agents.

Background:
To add to its Sci-Fi programming, UPN decided to give the go-ahead to Freedom, a story about a group of kick-ass mercenaries, and Level 9. While Freedom floundered quickly, Level 9 did so slowly, but was pulled from the airwaves after a mere seven episodes. It was created by John Sacret Young (VR.5) and also features former La Femme Nikita scribe Peter M Lenkov among its producer/writers.

First Run:
Level 9 first hacked into transmission frequencies on October 27th 2000.

Number of Episodes: A half-season’s worth of 13. Only nine have ever been transmitted in the States.

The Good Guys:
Jack Wiley (Max Martini), wild card agent from another agency who is seconded to Level 9; Annie Price (Kate Hodge), no-nonsense team leader and Level 9 head; Sosh (Kim Murphy) and Jargon (Esteban Powell), the decrypting duo who tackle advanced computer operations at home base; Roland Travis (Fabrizio Filippo, alias Scott Hope from Buffy Season 3), wise-ass ex-con brought into Level 9 for his hacking and infiltration skills; Wilbert ‘Tibbs’ Thibodeaux (Michael Kelly), Jerry Hooten (Romany Malco) and Joss Nakano (Susie Park), field agents.

The Bad Guys:
Justin Malik – aka The Mailman, an expert hacker – although he’s little threat after his second appearance. The major thorn in Level 9’s side is hacker CrayZhorse, who is behind most of the plots they tackle but remains elusive.

And Isn’t That...
Carter’s dad from Stargate SG-1 (Carmen Argenziano) is in the pilot episode, and genre favourite Willie Garson pops up a couple of times. The equally ubiquitous Tucker Smallwood plays a pilot in the episode Through the Looking Glass.

Overdone Clichés:
The show has little time to come up with any, but Travis getting out of his depth and screwing up happens a fair bit. Wiley gets on the wrong side of Annie most weeks as well.

Fashion Statements:
Geek-wear for the those who are never allowed to mix with real people, suits for everyone else.

Level 9's team
ANOTHER LEVEL

Through the Looking Glass
Level 9 tries to stop a hacker threatening to bring down planes digitally in a tense episode.

Reboot
The Mailman is allowed to escape jail in the hope that he’ll lead the team to CrayZhorse in this constantly twisting thriller episode, leading to a taut final sequence.

Wetware
A senator is assassinated by a sleeper agent and Wiley uncovers the lower levels of a deep-rooted conspiracy as he tries to stop further killings in an episode that would have kicked off an unrealized story arc.

HACKED OFF

The pilot is one of the most clichéd and badly-written pieces of TV you’ll ever see, and Digital Babylon provides little entertainment beyond women stripping to their underwear. It also makes Sosh out to be a total cretin.

 

Channel 5 logoLevel 9 is currently airing on Bravo Monday-Thursday at 21.00 & Midnight

See listings section of this Cult Times for details

 
 

Paul Soshpragg

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Feature © Visual Imagination 2001. Not for reproduction.