Strange Transmissions  

5-star rating EXCELLENT4-star ratingRECOMMENDED 3-star ratingGOOD 2-star ratingPOOR 1-star ratingDIABOLICAL
Warning! Probable spoilers ahead for readers outside the USA or Canada

selected from
Xposé #47
Invisible Man Pilot review here
THE PRETENDER – Season Four
19: The Inner Sense • Directed by Frederick K Keller
Written by Craig Van Sickle and Steven Long Mitchell
NBC • May 13 2000
4-star rating (Poor)
Final three episodes reviewed in this issue

Judging by the events presented in this two-hour season finale, executive producers Van Sickle and Long Mitchell had no idea that their cherished TV show was due to be axed by NBC.

Time for Miss Parker to stride off forever... Deprived of a resolution in the fifth season, The Inner Sense is wholly unsatisfactory – and a kick in the teeth to fans that have followed The Pretender for four years. There’s an awful lot to digest in two hours. Jarod’s father, Major Charles (George Lazenby), is back on the scene, and together they find her sibling Emily. Miss Parker locates vital evidence of Mirage, and discovers that her mother did not die as she believed – and that she and Jarod share a brother, Ethan.

Then it gets really complicated: Ethan has an Inner Sense, a kind of ESP, shared with his mother and, apparently, Miss Parker. Mr Raines has manipulated him for years, intending to use the boy to assassinate the Centre Triumvirate. Sydney knows more than he should. Mr Parker and Mr Lyle are up to no good. Mr Cox is back on the scene. And it all culminates in the deaths of Jarod, Miss Parker and Ethan.

Too self-indulgent for its own good, The Inner Sense re-invents Pretender mythology while veering into melodramatic soap opera. As a set-up for new directions it is murky, yet teases the viewer. As the final episode of the series, it is simply unacceptable.

Brian Barrett

EVERY MONTH IN XPOSÉ

This season, our STRANGE TRANSMISSIONS review section has been diligently covering the 1999–2000 seasons of: Buffy the Vampire Slayer • Earth: Final Conflict • Xena: Warrior Princess • The Pretender • Charmed • The X–Files • Seven Days • Stargate SG-1 plus the début seasons of Angel • Roswell • Now and Again • GvsE • Jack of all Trades and The Others, not forgetting all the latest fantastic films...

THE INVISIBLE MAN
1: Pilot Written by Matt Greenberg Directed by Breck Eisner
Sci-Fi Channel • June 9 2000
4-star rating (Recommended)

Although Kevin Bacon’s Hollow Man exploits were unseen (Watch it – Ed) at the time of broadcast, this series is bound to be compared to the horrifically voyeuristic Verhoeven tale, and the pilot has a chance to either tell that story first, or to do something different.

Vincent Ventresca as the charismatic FawkesFortunately, Matt Greenberg’s welcome script goes for the latter. Vincent Ventresca is Darien Fawkes, a small-time thief whose bad luck reaches an all-time high when a misunderstanding leads to life imprisonment. The only escape is offered by his scientist brother: release in exchange for being part of a dangerous experiment. Soon, Darien’s had a hole drilled in the back of his head, a wobbly new gland implanted, and now when he sweats he goes invisible.

On top of this ability, he has other problems: a nasty side-effect and some brutal industrial espionage to defeat. Heavily dependent on its central character, it’s fortunate Invisible Man has ex-Prey star Ventresca as the immensely charismatic Fawkes, an actor also able to invert this for Darien’s invisibility side-effect of psychotic episodes: the dark persona released calls for completely different character acting.

He’s assisted by some strong support, mainly from Paul Ben-Victor whose patriotic operative Hobbes is a sleazy combination of Due South’s Vecchio and Quantum Leap’s Al, concerned more by Darien’s better wages than his ability to go invisible. Eddie Jones (Clark Kent’s dad in Lois & Clark) is humorous and dangerous as Fawkes’ boss, exploiting Darien by controlling the supply of his cure.

The pilot looks fantastic; Darien’s Quicksilver transformations (the material he oozes to make himself invisible) are a complex interaction of direction and CGI which results in some brilliant moments and the Quicksilver shattering off after it’s used is a detail few others would have considered. His ability to hide both other objects and bits of himself gives an original spin on the Invisible Man dynamic, showcased in an exciting finale.

Surprisingly, the show really sets itself above the rest with its humor; far blacker than expected but with many laugh-out-loud moments, such as Darien’s old-age trial, finding out who’s funding him, and frantic scenes with Hobbes. There are even a few treats for cult Sci-Fi fans: the scientist roll-call features doctors Baker, McGann, Troughton and Hartnell! With a plot that goes as you expect for halfway, and then discards and starts from scratch, this is a show with the ability to surprise. Let’s hope this survives into the series.

Ian Atkins

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