The Pretender is an American television drama series with elements of mystery and sci-fi that aired on NBC from 1996 to 2000. The series starred Michael T. Weiss as Jarod, a genius and former child prodigy with the ability to become anyone he wants to be, i.e., to flawlessly impersonate anyone in virtually any line of work. (e.g. a fireman, a doctor, etc.) Patrick Bauchau and Andrea Parker co-starred as Sydney, Jarod's childhood teacher and mentor, and Miss Parker, a childhood friend. They are both operatives for a mysterious organization called "The Centre", which took Jarod from his parents as a child and developed his special talents with the intention of making him one of their agents, while also using his brilliant intellect for their own evil purposes.
After escaping from their custody, Jarod begins traveling the country, searching for clues to his true identity while posing as a doctor, police officer, attorney, or some other character who helps those in trouble. The Centre's directors are determined to return Jarod to The Centre to further their mysterious plan. A team of operatives, led by Miss Parker, attempts to find and capture The Pretender. Jarod's extreme intelligence combined with his childlike innocence create a memorable and endearing character that was popular with viewers.
Following NBC's cancellation of the series, two television movies picking up where the series left off were aired on TNT: The Pretender 2001 and The Pretender: Island of the Haunted. In 2013, creators Steven Long Mitchell and Craig W. Van Sickle began updating the story with a series of books and graphic novels. The first, The Pretender: Rebirth, was published on October 7, 2013.
Jarod (Michael T. Weiss) is a child prodigy who is abducted at a young age and raised in a think tank called the Centre, based in the fictional town of Blue Cove, Delaware. Told that his parents have died, Jarod's is assigned to the care of a man named Sydney (Patrick Bauchau), a psychiatrist working for the Centre. During Jarod's youth, Sydney mentors the boy and regularly coaches him through complex simulations designed to exploit his intellect for real life application. As an adult, Jarod discovers that the Centre is using data gathered from his responses for nefarious purposes, such as illegal black ops and engineering the deaths of others. Feeling responsible, Jarod escapes the Centre. Soon afterward, he discovers that the people whom he believed to be his parents actually weren't. Jarod has an anomaly in his blood that a father or mother would share and neither of his supposed parents do.
Loyalty is a recurring theme in the series. Sydney's loyalty to the Centre wavers when it concerns Jarod's safety and this rift increases when he discovers truths what the organization did to his twin brother Jacob. During the first season, Jarod sends MIss Parker evidence that she too has been manipulated by the organization, which is led by her father ("Mr. Parker"). Miss Parker learns from Jarod that she was lied to about how her mother Catherine Parker died. Further revelations are made concerning Miss Parker's origins and her brother. This puts her in a parallel to Jarod's quest of discovery and at times her loyalty wavers, though never falters. When she and Jarod share a romantic moment, Jarod questions if this will change things and Miss Parker replies it will not. "You run, I chase."
Though Jarod learns more about his family, there are still unanswered questions when the series ends after four seasons. The series finale closed with both characters being nearby an exploding bomb. The ending did not reveal whether Jarod and/or Miss Parker survived the blast. The next year, the telemovie The Pretender 2001 picked up directly from this cliffhanger, leading into Jarod's next adventure.
The building seen in nearly every episode and identified as "The Centre" is actually the R. C. Harris Water Treatment Plant, located in Toronto, Canada.
After the series was cancelled, it was picked up in syndication by TNT. In response to an outpouring of emails from fans, which prompted negotiations involving the show's creators and both NBC and TNT, two telemovies – The Pretender 2001 and Island of the Haunted – were aired on TNT in 2001. Both movies ended with an unresolved cliffhanger.
The creators of the show, Steven Mitchell and Craig van Sickle stated in an interview on the French DVD of the telemovies that an ending was written for the series; they just needed financing to create it. In a September 2007 interview on the miniseries Tin Man, Mitchell and van Sickle noted that fans were still requesting an ending and that it would happen "soon" due to a relationship with "Strange Highway" Entertainment.
They also noted that the story line would continue digitally on the web. On May 21, 2008, van Sickle again expressed interest in having a final episode or film to finish the movie, and asked fans to continue to be patient until it happens.
On July 8, 2013, it was announced through The Pretender Creators Facebook page that The Pretender will be reborn and that on July 19th at 2 P.M. PDT will be the officially announce to the fans worldwide on details of the first exciting way The Pretender will be reborn.
On July 19th, Steve and Craig announced to the world that they will be bringing back the Pretender in several new ways: books first, then graphic novels and then mini-series/movies, as stated in their interview:
The first Pretender novel Rebirth will be out on October 7, 2013 in eBook and paperback through Amazon.
Michael T. Weiss portrayed Jarod on the TV series Profiler during an NBC crossover event. The first half of the plot unfolded on The Pretender (season 3 episode 19 "End Game"), in which two lead characters from Profiler, Dr. Samantha "Sam" Waters (Ally Walker) and Bailey Malone (Robert Davi) guest-starred. The conclusion takes place in an episode of Profiler (season 3 episode 19 "Grand Master") in which Michael T. Weiss guest-starred. Jarod's alias at the time is Jarod Doyle, a police officer. He vanishes at the end of the episode, presumably on to another "pretend".
After Profiler's main character, Sam Waters, was replaced with a new profiler, Rachel Burke (Jamie Luner), there was another Pretender/Profiler crossover in which Jarod had a short lived romance with the new profiler. The first crossover between Jarod and Rachel took place in season 4 episode 10 "Clean Sweep" of Profiler and season 4 episode 10 "Spin Doctor" of The Pretender. Jarod also later appeared on the penultimate episode of Profiler, season 4 episode 18 "Pianissimo".
I am a fan since the very beginning of The Pretender, back in 1996. I watched the series multiple times, purchased the region 1 DVD's a long time ago, the TV movies as well. That's why I'm a bit ashamed that only last weekend I found out that The Pretender Lives...again since October 2013!
The creators of The Pretender, Steven Long Mitchell & Craig W van Sickle, like it's fans, love the TV series, The Pretender Universe and that's why, after 13 years, they decided The Pretender needs to be back and so they wrote a book called The Pretender: Rebirth and book two, Saving Luke is about to be released.
They also created a website where fans can come together, talk with each other, with the creators, have a voice in The Pretender bookcover and even can become a character in a Pretender book. I read about it last week and directly purchased the first book myself, dying to get deeper in The Pretender universe. If you feel the same way, check out this website which is not just a website.
Why is The Pretender on this website?:
The Pretender is one of my all time favourite TV Series, for years now I ask myself, is this sci-fi related, has it a right to be on this site. Lots of sites catagorize it as sci-fi. Well now I had the opportunity the ask the creators Steven Long Mitchell and/or Craig W van Sickle through The Pretender: Rebirth website. I asked if they thought The Pretender was/is sci-fi is, because al lot of websites do. Steven Long Mitchell responded:
"I guess it has a few elements of sci-fi. It has always been a show that was hard to categorize as it was so unique. But I don't mind the scifi connection. When they first tested the show for the audience they labeled it an X-Files type show and a Touched by an Angel type show. In many ways it was both.
Hope that answers your question.
For me this is enough, if one of the creators from the TV Series thinks so, I think The Pretender can have a place on this website!