August 24, 2014

THE SKED Series Premiere Review: “Intruders”


INTRUDERS:  Saturday 10PM on BBCAmerica – Worth A Look

The premiere of BBCAmerica’s INTRUDERS, which received the network’s marquee slot following the season premiere of Dr. Who, provided the creepiness associated with series creator Glen Morgan, a veteran of The X-Files and the Final Destination movie franchise, and director Eduardo Sanchez, who co-helmed The Blair Witch Project.

The story, based on a novel by Michael Marshall Smith, criss-crossed the Pacific Northwest (as usual, a sign of Canadian production) in its initial hour, for as-yet unclear purposes, although it appeared to involve entities (human or not) that had conquered death by jumping into successive host bodies.  The reasons why they were being tracked by Shepherd (James Frain), who showed up on particular birthdays bearing a token object and a black card with the number 9 and a phone number, and why they mostly died violently thereafter, either at his hand or their own, are mysteries for now.

Our hero in all this is former LAPD cop and now writer Jack Whelan (John Simm, of the original British State of Play and Life On Mars), whose wife Amy (Mira Sorvino) seems to be one of these body-shifting creatures, one who disappeared after her own birthday.  Jack has also been suspiciously approached by old friend Gary Fischer (Tory Kittles), a lawyer who’s asked him to look into another vanished figure.  Gary is somehow tied to one of those who died violently 20 years earlier, and he might as well be wearing an “I’m Hiding Something” sign around his neck.  There’s also, creepiest of all, 9-year old Madison (Millie Brown), who contains a much older and less pleasant individual inside her.

Sanchez is skilled with abrupt sound effects, shadowy lighting, and such other horror conventions as eyes that suddenly open and turn black and ill-fated family cats, and Morgan sets the table for an otherworldly conspiracy thriller.  Whether these pieces will come together to form something more than the TV version of a B-movie remains to be seen.  Intruders certainly seems to take itself more seriously than other current TV chillers like The Strain, True Blood and Witches of East End, although that will wear thin if it doesn’t resolve itself into a satisfying story.

Both Simm and Frain are actors well practiced in making hokum seem like weighty business, although neither has the most convincing American accent around.  Sorvino is only briefly seen in the first hour, and that leaves the acting honors to young Brown, a nastily convincing devil-child.

The value of Intruders will remain unknown until the show puts more of its narrative cards on the table; it’s unpromising but true that while Morgan has established thriller credits, he was also the creator of the recent thudding flop Those Who Kill.  Intruders has only an 8-episode run this season, so it will have to get into gear relatively quickly.  As for the ratings, Orphan Black is considered an epochal success for BBCAmerica with numbers that don’t cross a 0.3, and no one will expect Intruders to retain the bulk of its Dr. Who lead-in, given the intense focus of that show’s fans, so the bar is fairly low.  (The network tried to help it out further by airing the Dr. Who premiere post-show special–hosted, it need hardly be said, by Chris “I’ll Post-Anything” Hardwick–after the Intruders premiere.)  For now, it’s off to an intriguingly ominous start.

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."