One of the earliest forays into TV production by former teen idol Shaun Cassidy, the weekly, hour-long supernatural drama series American Gothic debuted September 22, 1995 on CBS. Things weren't quite right in the outwardly peaceful and respectable town of Trinity in Fulton County, South Carolina. Credit (or blame) for the ominous strangeness permeating the area could be laid at the feet of malevolent sheriff Lucas Buck (Gary Cole), who subtly held the populace in thrall, using his demonic powers for coercion, intimidation and murder. Even so, everyone considered Sheriff Buck one of nicest guys in town. . .at least, everyone who voiced no objections to dancing to the crack of his whip. Buck's deputy Ben Healy (Nick Searcy) was the only person aware of the full depth and breadth of Lucas' evil, but he was powerless to stop it. As for Buck's girlfriend, sexy schoolteacher Selena Coombs (Brenda Bakke), she somehow managed to avoid his terrible wrath despite shacking up with practically every other adult male in town--including Dr. Billy Peele (John Mese), who joined the cast mid-season to battle an epidemic in Trinity. Having disposed of teenager Merlyn Ann Temple (Sarah Paulson), Lucas Buck attempted to gain custody of the girl's younger brother Caleb (Lucas Black), whose long-suppressed family ties to Lucas would not be revealed until mid-season. But Caleb's older cousin Gail Emory (Paige Turco), a crusading journalist, fought Lucas tooth and nail, and found a strong ally in the form of a stranger in town, Dr. Matt Crower (Jake Weber), who agreed to take care of Caleb himself. Incredibly, even Merlyn Ann, who'd been bumped off by Lucas early in the series, made surprise appearences to offer advice and comfort to her brother, and to steer him clear of Lucas' sinister influence. Too weird and inscrutable for the tastes of most viewers, American Gothic was put on hiatus after only seven episodes on November 3, 1995. The series was brought back on January 3, 1996, but yanked off the network again a scant five weeks later. Six of the remaining ten episodes were run off between July 3 and July 11, 1996, some of them shown out of sequence and thus confusing those viewers trying to make sense of its kinky continuity. The four untelecast episodes of American Gothic would not be generally seen until the series was released to DVD nearly a decade later.
by Hal Erickson synopsis