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The Tire Rack - Performance Specialists


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97poster
97 Viper - The Series Poster

jbisanz



Registered: February 2006
Location: Bartonville, IL
Posts: 4,516
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jbisanz

Registered: February 2006
Location: Bartonville, IL
Posts: 4,516
4:51am

Viper was an action-adventure TV series about a special task force set up by the federal government to fight crime in fictional Metro City, California. The weapon used by this task force is an assault vehicle that masquerades as a Dodge Viper RT/10 roadster and coupe. The show's villains were often driving Dodge vehicles.


The series was put on hiatus after its first season for a complete re-casting. The only actor to return after season 1 was Joe Nipote in his role as Frankie "X" Waters.



Season I


Metro City was under siege from a crime wave that was begun by "The Outfit," a crime group led by a man known only as Mr. Townsend (played by William Russ). The Metro City Police Department, or Metropol, was unable to get a handle on the situation. This led to the creation of the Viper Project, a special top secret task force created by the federal government to fight the wave of violence sweeping Metro City.


This task force used a modified Dodge Viper RT/10 sports car that could, at the flip of a secret switch, transform from a muscle car into an armored machine known as "Defender". The "Defender" was an invention of technological specialist Julian Wilkes (played by Dorian Harewood), who was paralyzed during a shootout between police and criminals. There were a few bumps at first, mainly due to the fact that regular drivers were unable to handle this deadly machine. A precision driver was needed for this car.


Michael Payton (played by James McCaffrey), a top driver for "The Outfit," was leading his team from their latest heist when he got caught in an accident and was injured. Captured, Payton's memory was erased and he was reborn as Joe Astor, an officer for Metropol. However, using the help of a corrupt official, "The Outfit" discredits the Viper Project, leading to its cancellation. However, Astor and Wilkes, with the help of mechanic Franklin Waters (played by Joe Nipote), stole the Viper and gained access to Payton's bank account, using both in a private war against crime. Astor ran the operation for several months before he was sent to Europe to handle deep cover operations for the U.S. Government, leading to the end of the Viper Team's war on crime ... or so it seemed.



Season 2


Shortly after Astor's departure, Metro City was hit by a second crime wave, this time in the form of a team of renegade ex-commandos led by Col. Hanson Dekker (played by Tim Thomerson), a former U.S. Army Special Forces officer who served combat tours in Iraq, Bosnia and Cuba. It was against this backdrop that Thomas Cole (played by Jeff Kaake), a CIA agent with evasive driving experience, was selected to head a new Viper Team. He was delivering the new Viper to Metro City when he was pulled over for speeding by two Metropol officers, Randy Carpenter (played by Roger R. Cross) and Cameron Westlake (played by Heather Medway). It was during this traffic stop that Dekker and his commandos hit the Metro Bank.


Upon hearing of the bank heist on their radio, Carpenter and Westlake left Cole behind to join their fellow officers at the bank to confront Dekker and company. However, their efforts were unsuccessful. Westlake's partner, Carpenter, died saving her life. Because of the bank heist, the Viper Project was reborn, with a Metropol liaison to ride shotgun. For this assignment, Westlake's superior, Capt. Harold Benning (played by Mike Genovese), promoted her to Detective and sent her to the meeting place, where she found herself meeting Thomas Cole, the very man she and Carpenter pulled over. She also met Waters, the original mechanic from the first Viper Project, and Allie Farrow (played by Dawn Stern), Viper's systems specialist.


Despite a systems glitch and the kidnapping of Waters by Dekker and his men, the Viper Team defeated them and rescued Waters. Dekker was killed when the International Transtar 4300 big rig he was driving was blown up by the team to keep it from crashing into Metro City Hospital. After this victory, the Viper Team carried on its crusade against evil, overcoming such obstacles ranging from interference by Special Agent Sherman Catlett (played by J. Downing), a by the book bureaucrat from the FBI, to the team being discredited again, this time by Lee Cyrus (played by Dean Wray), Dekker's right hand man ... and the murderer of Westlake's partner, Randy Carpenter.


Cyrus' scheme to discredit the team involved a replica of the Viper in the 'Defender' configuration, which he and his men used to commit vicious crimes, including a murder. This would lead Cole's superior, the Administrator (played by Bruce A. Young), to shut down the team. In defiance of orders to stand down, the team cleared their name and Westlake avenged Carpenter's death.



Season 3


After serving as the team's systems specialist for several months, Allie Farrow was reassigned to another post, which left Waters to take care of the Defender's systems and mechanical needs by himself. During this period, the team had to contend with new enemies, including Lena Weisinger (played by Stephanie Niznik), a former Stasi agent turned freelance mercenary, who had a personal vendetta against Westlake for killing her lover, Emil Rurik (played by Mike Dopud), during a shootout.


However, after years of successful operation, the team suffered a tragic loss ... not of one of their people, but the car. A notorious criminal named Giles Seaton (played by Peter Wingfield) concocted a plot to steal the Defender by using a criminal named Terry Hawkes (Jeff Kaake in a dual role), who was turned into a Thomas Cole look-alike with plastic surgery. As Cole, Hawkes successfully penetrated the team's headquarters and, despite being exposed by the real Cole, made off with the Viper. To prevent Hawkes from escaping, the team blew up the Viper, keeping its secrets from falling into enemy hands.



Season 4


In the aftermath of the Viper's destruction, Cole was permanently reassigned to undercover work on other fronts. With the team gone, Metro City was again gripped by an enormous crime wave, forcing the feds to restart the Viper Team a third time. This time, the car they used was an Cobalt Blue Metallic Dodge Viper GTS coupe, which, thanks to Wilkes, had the equipment of the original Defender, along with some new equipment, most notably the hovercraft mode. Since Cole had been reassigned, Joe Astor, the original driver, was called back to service.



Trivia


The Viper Defender "star car" was designed by Chrysler Corporation engineers (unlike most Hollywood Film/TV cars that are usually customized by film picture designers like George Barris). The exterior design of the car was produced by Chrysler stylist Steve Ferrerio.
The Dodge Viper RT/10 Roadsters used in seasons 1-3 were actually not production models. Instead, Chrysler supplied various left-over engineering mules and prototypes of the Viper (still visually the same). Many other cars in Season 1 were left-over prototypes as well. For example, in the pilot movie, the Eagle Premier sedans with yellow vinyl stripes were drivetrain engineering mules for the LH cars (Dodge Intrepid/Chrysler Concorde).


The music composed for the pilot and opening theme for season one was composed by Eddie Jobson. Jay Ferguson took over the composing for the rest of the seasons as well as composing a remixed theme of the original season one opening and composed the brand new Season 4 Opening Theme from it.


The special effect "hex snake skin" transformation for the pilot and the first season were done by Metrolight Studios. Tim Claycomb & Tim Eilers took over the transformation sequence after the first season. Sources indicate that it cost $50,000 for each transformation scene in the NBC season.


Viper is one of the few science fiction shows in which nanotechnology is a useful technology (it is used to transform the Defender and to repair it).


It is rumored that the inspiration for Viper was to cross the car from Knight Rider with the hidden weapons capability of Airwolf.
Season Two was filmed predominantly in Calgary, Alberta Canada.


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