May 21, 2015

[TV] Intruders: Season 1

In the post-Orphan Black world, it was easy to get excited about the other projects coming out of BBC America. And this one was supposed to be based on a book, so that meant potentially rich source material right? But it's hard to determine when a show will or won't do well, and in this case the results were definitely a little mixed, leaning to the side of the not so great.

I really wanted to like Intruders since it had a decent enough premise and it had Doctor Who veteran John Simm as one of the lead actors. I loved him as The Master during the Tennant run of the show and so I was looking forward to seeing him in another BBC production.

I guess the real challenge here is that the show had a rather deliberate sense of pacing it was trying to achieve that probably ended up feeling a little slow in the end. And given how the show only had 8 episodes to tell a story, you'd think that each episode would feel pretty insightful and meaningful. Instead there was a lot of feeling like you're being taken for a ride, and a not in a good way.

Synopsis: Intruders is a BBC America drama series written and developed for television by Glen Morgan. The show is based on the Michael Marshall Smith novel, The Intruders. The show was cancelled after the first season completed airing.

Jack Whelan (John Simm) is a former police detective whose help is sought for a series of somewhat strange cases. But around the same time, his wife Amy (Mira Sorvino) begins to behave somewhat strangely and eventually disappears from their home entirely. Jack begins a frantic search for her and his path is bound to cross with that of a secret society whose purpose is not all that immediately clear. At the same time, young Madison O'Donnell (Millie Bobby Brown) also begins to behave strangely and eventually leaves her home, much to her parents' distress.

It is revealed that the secret society in question is one that has somehow unlocked the secret to immortality. In this case, this is done through some sort of controlled reincarnation process where the consciousness of the member can be transferred to another host body. Then using a series of persona items and tokens, it is possible to reawaken that other self inside the new body in order to supersede the existing personality.

The whole notion of this undying secret society is a pretty compelling one and it's hard to ignore how this was amazingly presented by young Millie Bobby Brown. Her depiction of Madison's struggle between her current self as a little girl and the presence of this older, other individual in her mind made for some amazing television. She's quite the talented actress and I was fully on-board seeing how she'd continue through this series with such a tremendous conflict in her character's head. She's amazing and actually the best reason to watch this show.

Everyone else, however, came across a little dry or without true impact. Even Simm as a lead character didn't feel all that "fully there" in the show given his weird path of distraught husband to confused detective? He never really feels like he's truly getting somewhere with his investigations and instead just seems to be bounced around by the events in the show. His wife doesn't seem all that different before and after her internal awakening and it's hard to see the chemistry between the two of them.

The whole story had its merits to be certain, but the manner of presentation and execution felt stretched and sometimes dragged rather slowly. And when it wasn't slow. it just felt confusing and I can't say if this was because of the structure of the source material or just how it was presented on-screen. I guess the whole arc involving James Frain's character and his efforts to bring back Marcus, the consciousness buried in Madison was what came across as being rather weird and didn't quite make sense until the end, if at all.

So I get why the show was axed. I feel bad that we won't see more of Brown performing as Madison but that's life. Intruders tried but not all BBC America productions can be perfect. And this one isn't a good example of what the creative team is capable of, I'm sure. So the show can only really get 2 intense moments with Madison out of a possible 5.

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