May 14, 2014

NIELSENWAR 2014-15 Trailer Review: ABC’s “The Whispers”


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THE FACTS:  Something is taking possession of American children and making them do very bad things–like “kill your parents” bad things.  They may be on their way to launching an all-out attack, and Lily Rabe is the government agent tasked to stop them.  The series creator is Soo Hugh, who’s been a member of the writing staff on Under the Dome, and Steven Spielberg is one of the nonwriting producers.

WHAT IT’S SAYING:  Devil children, of a sort–probably under the control of aliens.  Even with that sci-fi twist, innocent-looking yet creepy children have been a Hollywood trope since The Exorcist, The Omen and before.

WHAT IT’S REALLY SAYING:  If you liked the little boy back from the dead on Resurrection, here’s a whole show full of kids who aren’t quite right.  What’s not clear from the trailer is how much of the show is going to be the horror business of the children obeying their hidden masters, and how much is a 24-type government emergency thriller.  Those two genres don’t necessarily fit together, making this a potentially odd mix.

THE OUTLOOK:  It’s unclear why ABC is launching American Crime instead of this in the Resurrection slot after that show finishes its run, since Whispers feels like much more of a tonal match.  Anywhere else on the schedule will be more of a risk, although Tuesday 10PM might work.  Depending on which genre you put Resurrection into (it’s not clear that show even knows itself), ABC hasn’t had much luck with horror lately, as both 666 Park Avenue and The River were quick flops.  This one looks like it could go either way.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."