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Unaired pilot (2007)

Lee Tergesen was cast in the lead role as Detective Brian Spicer in the pilot for a show called "AMPED" for cable network Spike TV.

Production of the pilot occurred during October 2006 in Vancouver. However, Spike did not pick up "AMPED" as a series.

The cable network's press release on Oct. 2, 2006, had described the show as follows: "Set in present-day Minneapolis, 'AMPED' centers on a group of police detectives and officers as they deal with a small-but-growing percentage of the population that is falling prey to strange genetic mutations, causing them to do destructive things to the city and those around them."

The release also described Lee's character: "Lee Tergesen has been cast in the lead role of Detective Brian Spicer, a sensitive and quick-thinking homicide officer who is legendary in the Department for being fearless and level-headed."

Lee's co-star was Tony Curran, as Detective Mark Jacocks, who is described as a tough cop who imparts his own special brand of survival philosophy onto rookies and whose method clashes with Spicer.

Sarah Joy Brown, a three-time Daytime Emmy Award winner, played Detective Katrina Cabrera -- Spicer's partner. Cynthia Addai-Robinson, Josh Biton and Troy Winbush round out the cast.

"AMPED" seemed like it had a good chance because of the showrunners' terrific pedigree. Co-creators Frank Spotnitz and Vince Gilligan were longtime executive producers on "The X-Files" and wrote many episodes of that long-running science fiction series.

In an interview with Hollywood North Report, Spotnitz had described "AMPED" as scary, yet funny. 

"The idea is that the world has changed," Spotnitz said. "It's a very dangerous world. A certain percentage of the population are mutating and turning into monsters. And it depends on your specific DNA what type of monster you become. So the cops who work in this precinct go out every day and they literally don't know what they're going to encounter."


"AMPED" is a cop show with the added dimension of having to deal with mutated people who are completely unpredictable in their behavior -- and their appearance. 

Based on an early script, here's the description of one that a pair of patrolmen pick up: "He was human once, but now ... he's got yellow eyes. Blue-black gums. The skin around his eyes has some kind of disturbing high-speed twitch to it." 

A mutated woman is described: She looks different, but she does share the traits of yellow eyes and black gums. "She's a wild, howling creature, fighting the two uniform cops the entire way. She's as strong as a man, and scary."

The mutated people are known by a whole host of derogatory names: Amp Heads, Boilers, Cob Mouths, Klingons, Piss Eyes, Prune Heads, Screaming Yellow Monkeys, etc. The PC term is "mutated individuals" or "mutational actives." 

Lee's character, Detective Brian Spicer, is first introduced while speaking to a group of school children. He is described in the script like so: "He's mid-30s, handsome and substantial. Soft-spoken. Not hard-edged like Detective Jacocks, he'd nonetheless be an even match for the man."

Here's what he tells the kids about mutated people:

They're not all violent. Even the ones who are don't always mean to be. They're not thinking straight. They're confused. That doesn't make them bad people. It's just what the mutation does. ... That's the way it is with this disease, AMP. A-M-P, it stands for Aggressive Mutagenic Pathogen. ... That's a lot of big words to say nobody knows what we're dealing with.

Spicer's partner is Detective Katrina Cabrera (played by actress Sarah Joy Brown). Here's how she's described in the script: "She's a bit younger than Spicer and just as professional. Though she dresses to downplay it, the letters H, O and T spring to mind." The script also indicates that she respects Spicer greatly.

A scene between a rookie cop and her training officer describes how Spicer earned the respect of everyone. The incident is legendary, apparently. It was two years ago, before most people had even seen an "active" yet. Spicer was still a patrol officer. 

He and his partner got a call that a home alarm went off. It seemed routine, but it was an ambush. As soon as the partner stepped out of the car, two of the "things" attacked and killed him instantly -- sliced him open right through his vest. A third monster attacked Spicer and ripped a chunk out of his shoulder. Spicer managed to draw his gun with his weak hand and fired a bullet into the mutant's eye. 

Meanwhile, as the training officer tells it:

The other two AMPs are dragging his partner away. So Spicer, bleeding like a spigot, pops loose the shotgun and goes after 'em. Chases 'em up a steep hillside, weeds like out of a Tarzan movie. Chases 'em a half a mile. Kills both of them -- but not before they do another 40 stitches' worth of damage to him. Air unit finally finds him, half dead, guarding his partner's body. 

Both the trainee and the training officer are respectful. "This is a cop's cop."

From there, the trainee arrests an "active" who is suspected of a killing. The rest of the show is devoted to solving the crime -- much like any detective/cop show. It's a good mystery, with solid characters. The edginess between Spicer and Detective Jacocks is apparent. They are civil to one another, but it's clear they have a different attitude toward the mutants. Jacocks is much more calloused and aggressive. Spicer, despite his initial violent run-in with them, is compassionate.

Later, after the crime is solved, we learn a major reason why. Spicer visits a halfway house -- kind of a nursing home for actives. He enters one particular room...

Spicer silently pulls up a chair, sits down beside an "active female patient" asleep in her bed. We stay at a distance -- we can't see much of the young woman's face. Her wrists are strapped to the steel bedframe. Spicer puts a hand atop her hand and just sits with her. In the foreground a staffer softly closes the door, not wishing to disturb. As she does, a name card swings into view: "Cynthia Spicer."


Related Links

Video clip
of Lee and co-star
Sarah Joy Brown
from sarahbrown.net

AMPED "sides" (PDF)
Most of the script

IMDb page

AMPED page
at Brightlight Pictures