by Steven Boone
In the summer of 2000, Gaspar Noé's I Stand Alone, a spinoff of his notorious art film about an unemployed French butcher righting all the wrongs in his life, came to American television. The short-lived FX channel series was a vast improvement over the movie. A raft of brilliant scenarists (including Alexander Payne, Stephen Gaghan and Roger Avary) crafted propulsive tales of vigilante justice, family drama and, in its post-9/11 second (and final) season, the myriad complexities of homeland security police work. The story of The Butcher's rise from disgruntled meat-cutter to homicidal anti-hero to Paris' top cop riveted a small but devoted cult following.
The critics were slow to catch on. Salon's dismissive blurb, "Taxi Driver meets Highway to Heaven," actually counts as a startlingly precise encapsulation of what made the show such a heady, provocative clash of styles. It paved the way for other, far more successful (but less gutsy) FX shows, like The Shield, Nip/Tuck and Rescue Me.
I'm posting a VHS rip of the show opener as a small attempt at drumming up support for an I Stand Alone: The Series revival via either syndication or DVD. If you miss (or missed) this show, email the geniuses at FX and tell them bring back the butcher. In these recessionary times, we need him.