The Pretender ran for four all too brief seasons. It had good acting, truly fascinating, lovable and at times heartwrenching characters and twisty, devious plots on the Centre side of things. Jared’s weekly mission plot got to be very formulaic, but it was balanced by the utterly wacky going-ons at the Centre which were never fully explained to anyone’s satisfaction.
The premise of the story is that in 1963 a young boy named Jared was taken from his family by an organization known only as “the Centre,” a secret research facility, among other things. Jared had a high IQ and was used to run simulations and solve problems. He lived there in a miserable little cell for thirty years. Then he escaped in 1996 and has been searching for his family, his past, and who he really is ever since. He also helps other people, bringing justice or saving lives along the way.
Sydney Mihileau (?), who has his own complicated past, works for the Centre and was the person in charge of Jared. Or at least the person that interacted with Jared and taught him, since he technically had no control over Jared’s fate. Sydney came to love Jared like his own son and Jared loves Sydney, the only father that he ever knew, the only person that cared about him in that place.
Miss Parker, once sweet and good, acts like a thoroughly unpleasant hag: nasty, unfeeling and callous of the feelings and needs of others. Her mother died when she was a young girl and her father ignored her. All Miss Parker has ever wanted since then is to be loved by her dad, which has never happened.
Broots is just this normal, rather cowardly guy who works at the Centre. He, Miss Parker, and Sydney are assigned to track down Jared and bring him back. Well, Sydney is always helping Jared. Miss Parker ends up finding out that she and Jared are both on a search for the truth about who they are. And Broots wants to help, but also does not want to end up being killed, courtesy of Mr. Parker, Mr. Raines, Mr. Lyle, Brigitte or another operative of the Triumvirate. It can be very confusing, and also very funny, especially as Jared discovers things that we take for granted, but that fascinate him as he discovers them for the first time, things like Play Dough, Silly Putty, ice cream, Monkeys in a Barrel, Pez and Bazooka Bubble Gum to name a few.
Unfortunately, in 2000, NBC canceled the show on a cliff-hanger ending and although two tv films were made, they did not address the open questions of the series, but rather just raised more. Although there was talk of a third, more conclusive film, none has been made to-date. Still, one of my favorite series, it is a lot of fun and I highly recommend you take a look.