For me, that time was 1998, when I launched the Bruce Campbell Watch in the pages of Time Out New York magazine. Why Bruce Campbell? To quote myself: “With a huge arsenal of B movies and a recurring role on ratings-grabbers Xena and Hercules, Campbell has attracted the same kind of cult following usually generated by household names like Duchovny, Shatner and Auberjonois. And with this new monthly feature, New Yorkers will learn what so many already know: that Bruce is the hardest-working, best-looking Detroit-born actor ever to command a cult following by replacing his own hand with a chainsaw.”
The project, such that it was, came about due to a series of conversations with otherwise intelligent people who had no inkling who this gem of an actor really was — and not at all because John Hodgman, then Campbell’s literary agent, dared me to do it. Imagine, though, never having seen him in Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead film franchise! Or on Fox’s 1993-94 sci-fi western The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr! And so, I listed all the Campbell-related shows and movies that would be airing on television every month, and each time, the man himself lended a final, Campbellian thought to the endeavor.
[Click on an image below to view.]
Primarily because my editors said so — repeatedly, and sometimes by threat of force — the Bruce Campbell Watch had to die. But it has been rewarding to see Campbell expand on his 1998 promise and cross over in a legitimate way into the mainstream. He wrote the 2001 New York Times best-selling memoir, If Chins Could Kill. He starred in the 2002 Elvis-at-a-nursing-home indie sleeper Bubba Ho-Tep. He had memorable cameos in all three of Raimi’s Spider-Man movies. He hammed it up in those Old Spice ads. And now, he steals scenes as second banana Sam Axe on cable TV’s top-rated show, Burn Notice (which wraps up its summer season tonight). It’s obvious that Bruce Campbell no longer needs the Bruce Campbell Watch, if he ever even did.
Sounds like the perfect time to re-launch the project. In Web 2.0 no less.
Here are some of the ways you can catch Bruce on television in August.
USA Network; August 6 @ 9pm (preceded by an eight-episode season three marathon from 9am-4pm; other episodes air throughout the month — see the complete August schedule)
The summer finale of this incredibly popular Miami-based spy show, now in its third season, once again finds Bruce playing Sam Axe, a hard-boozing and -womanizing former Navy SEAL frequently assisting “burned” covert operative Michael Western (Jeffrey Donovan).
Cinemax; August 6 @ 11:30am and August 15 @ 4:30pm
In this steamy 1995 stinker, Bruce heads into the jungle looking for diamonds and returns to civilization, well, never. He is dispatched by marauding killer gorillas. [Update: The video below no longer works — blame Paramount. But read about Bruce’s excellent Congo death here.]
Disney Channel; August 11 @ 1am and 4am
In what I assume can only be full ham voiceover mode, Bruce appeared in five episodes (including this one, “Truth or Daring”) of this animated Disney Channel program as the voice of Uncle Phil Mygrave, a stunt coordinator of some kind. I’m not eight, though, so nothing is certain. And yet it exists.
Asked for comment about all of this, Bruce would only say:
“If Sam Axe got ‘burned’ would he ‘notice’?”
“If Sam and Ash [his Evil Dead character] arm wrestled, who would win? Sam — because he has the Axe!”
“What would Bruce Campbell do (WWBCD)? Learn lines…”
“If Bruce Campbell got ‘burned,’ what would he do? Fire his agent…”
Indeed. In the very real event that BCW2000 doesn’t return in September, please “look” for Bruce as the voice of the mayor in the animated adaptation of Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs. And definitely rent or purchase My Name Is Bruce, a hilariously self-referential low-budget flick directed by and starring you know who.
And with that, could it finally be time to pass the torch? Nathan Fillion Watch 2010, anyone?