Almost Paradise

Growing up in the 80’s and 90’s, I watched a lot of hour-long action shows featuring charming leads, exotic locations, and a bit of humor. Whether it was The A-Team, Magnum PI, Knight Rider, Viper, or MacGyver, I sat glued to my seat enjoying the adventures.

As television evolved, these types of shows stopped being produced as much. The self-contained one-hour adventure program with practical effects and light heartedness gave way to dark, serious, and gritty. Don’t get me wrong, I love Breaking Bad as much as the next guy, but I do enjoy a nice fluff show as well.

Thankfully, I didn’t watch much TV from 2004-2018 so I keep stumbling across shows that I really enjoy like Burn Notice. Burn Notice was like the next evolution in the action/adventure show with a bigger budget, bigger cast, and a lot of fun. It was one of the crowning jewels of USA’s Blue-Sky era and as I’ve made my way through the show I can see why. It’s got explosions, cool cars, hot babes, and a great lead character.

I haven’t made it all the way through Burn Notice yet, but last week I was doing a little research about the show when I saw a recommendation for Almost Paradise. I had this show sitting on my Amazon Prime Watchlist (the show is available on FreeVee if you don’t have Prime) and I wasn’t even sure I was going to give it shot. Honestly, the casting of Christian Kane (whom I struggle to forget as the evil Lindsey in Angel), and the cheesy backdrop of the photo is what got me to add it in the first place.

Armed with a little free time and an interest in checking out something new, I turned on Almost Paradise last week and dare I say, it’s better than Burn Notice or at least on par.

Almost Paradise began as a WGN America show in 2020 prior to their transformation to NewsNation in 2001. The show is produced by Dean Devlin who wrote Universal Solider, Stargate, Independence Day, and Geostorm. He also produced shows like Leverage, The Librarians, and The Ark.

It’s the first American show to be filmed entirely in the Philippines and features an all-Filipino staff and crew. It seems like WGN was already in plans to transform into NewsNation so the show was told up front it would not be renewed, but luckily Amazon stepped in with IMDBtv (now FreeVee) to pick it up for a second season which was just released last week.

The show stars Christian Kane (Angel, Leverage, The Librarians), Samantha Richelle, and Arthur Acuna. Christian Kane’s character, Alex Walker, is a former DEA agent who retires due to a problem with hypertension after being betrayed by his partner. In an effort to lead a more relaxing life, he buys a gift shop in the town of Cebu, that he once visited on a mission. He’s hoping for the relaxing beach life, but once arriving in Cebu he finds his rundown gift shop now sits on land that has become a massive resort.

Alex only feels in control when working a case, which is great for him because each episode he finds himself embroiled in some sort of on-goings with the local police department. The two detectives Kai Mendoza (Samantah Richelle) and Ernesto Almares (Arthur Acuna) are two of the honest, hardworking officers for the local police. They’re reluctantly to rely on Alex at first, but his experience in dealing with huge police operations make him an asset that’s impossible to ignore.

So, following the format similar to Burn Notice, Alex finds himself helping someone (or the police) each week with a problem. The show leans a bit more into the humor than Burn Notice, but the action is just as solid and adding the element of stress management really makes for some fun story telling. Ces Quesada portrays Cory Santos, the manager of the resort who is always hassling Alex because he struggles to get his disability check due to various reasons like a government lockdown.

The show wouldn’t be nearly as good if it wasn’t for the great performances by Samantha Richelle and Arthur Acuna. Ms. Richelle has basically no other acting credits to her name and is actually a Brueian royal. She’s stunning to look at and very believable as the honest, hardworking detective she portrays.

Arthur Acuna has 66 credits listed on IMDB with the most popular being a driver in The Bourne Legacy. He has an interesting look and portrays the character as levelheaded and much more relaxed than Samantha Richelle’s character. But when he takes his glasses off, things get serious and he’s a major badass.

Similar to Burn Notice (and well… all of those fun action shows) each episode ends on a high note, the scenery is gorgeous, and the stakes are relatively light. It’s a fun, easy watch that isn’t going to stir up too many emotions.

If this was 1998, I don’t think I would even bother writing about Almost Paradise, but in 2023 when these types of shows are few and far between, it’s worth mentioning, especially when it’s existing on a small streaming service like FreeVee.

Anyway, I’m glad someone recommend Almost Paradise, because I’ve been really enjoying it, so I thought I’d do the same. If you need a little lighthearted action in your life or were a fan of Burn Notice, give Almost Paradise a shot. I think you may enjoy it.

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