Well, I wouldn’t say this show went out with a bang. For its final episode, completing its midseason of thirteen hours, the producers of Legend finally remembered that they could do something with the third member of the team. Ramos, played by Mark Adair Rios, has been very much in the background. He’s a Harvard-educated and humorless scientist, all business and never smiling, and usually overlooked. We don’t know anything about him as a person. And this episode proves that this has been a problem: Ramos provides a perfect opportunity to tell stories about the bigotry that all people of Mexican or native descent faced at that time.
This time out, Ramos brings the remains of a corpse found in the hills outside the nearby town of Bell to the sheriff, who’s a condescending racist jerk. Veteran actor John Vernon plays the big landowner who knows a lot more than he’s telling about the theft of cultural treasures. Ramos is in over his head, and unfortunately that’s because he’s written astonishingly out of what character we’ve seen before. He’s always been a careful, rational, quiet scientist, but instead of using him in a clever way to build an interesting case against the villain, he’s swearing vengeance and trying to do it alone. Pratt even warns him that he’s talking like a character from one of his crummy books right before that character gets killed, which you’d think would give a man as smart as Ramos pause. It’s a massive missed opportunity. Clearly more needed to be done with Ramos, but this wasn’t it.
I wasn’t really sure what to expect with this show going in. Despite a couple of misfires, like this one, it more than met my expectations. Legend was whimsical, and occasionally very smart, and I was entertained. Unfortunately, the ratings weren’t strong enough to warrant a full season for the fall of 1995. I think a second season could have been very good. Maybe they could have introduced a couple of regular parts for women, and UPN certainly could have done a better job promoting the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine connections with the writers and producers to get more adventure-teevee fans to tune in. But certainly the opportunity was there for this to build into a sleeper hit if the network had a little patience. But honestly, UPN was in money trouble right out of the gate and they didn’t need sleeper hits, they needed big hits.
But of course, if Legend had turned into a hit, then Richard Dean Anderson wouldn’t have been available for Stargate SG-1 in 1997…