Steph’s FAVOURITE SHOW IN THE WHOLE WORLD, The Pretender, turns 20 today. When Steph was a wee teen, she encountered this show about a genius who was kidnapped and taken away to be an ideas generator in a think tank, and when he grew up he discovered he was doing evil and escaped, and then his childhood bestie was brought in to recapture him.
And did she love it so much that she thinks about it constantly 20 years later? OH, YOU BET.
Okay, here’s what you need to know.
MISS PARKER is not the child genius, she is his childhood BFF. Her daddy ran The Centre, she had a long lost evil psychopathic twin who lost his thumb in a dispute with her ex-boyfriend/a yakuza member, and she might have been psychic.
She has also been Steph’s fannish style icon lo these long twenty years! (One of two – the other is Queen Mab played by Miranda Richardson in the Merlin with Sam Neill, the most worst actor to play Merlin ever.) (Sidenote: Helena Bonham Carter’s Morgan is so great. SO GREAT.)
She’s very short skirt, long jacket; she has giant boots, chunky rings, a gun comfortable in her hand. Miss Parker would never let a man tell her to smile. She would crush that dude under her feet and then set fire to his car and his house and his job, and then, afterwards, she might smile.
The child genius is Jarod. The show revolved around him. After he escaped it was a monster of the week style show, with Jarod going after a bad guy of the week, engaging in entrapment (does the bad guy agree that he did it when he’s tied up and being held above a pit of tigers? Of course he does! But Jarod, that’s TERRIBLE BEHAVIOUR) and then learning something about the world – like about ice-cream, or Pez, or handcuffs. (Don’t – don’t question it. A lot of Jarod and Miss Parker’s relationship involved handcuffs)
Other notable characters:
- Sydney, Jarod’s mentor/psychologist for 30 years in the Centre; he was a father figure but also A VERY MORALLY QUESTIONABLE SCIENTIST WHO BELIEVED IN KIDNAPPING CHILDREN
- Mr Lyle, Parker’s VERY PROBLEMATIC TWIN BROTHER WHO WAS VERY TERRIBLE
- Angelo, a psychic who was definitely also kidnapped and should definitely not been in the Centre
- Bridget, whose job description is ‘Cleaner’, which in the context of the Centre involves MURDER
- Mr Parker, the worst father ever
- Catherine Parker (deceased) (not a spoiler), who had a really interesting backstory that they never quite go into enough because she was BRINGING DOWN THE CENTRE FROM THE INSIDE IS THAT WHY SHE WAS KILLED?! dun dun dunnnn
- Mr Raines, a terrible human being
Anyway, that’s basically all I wanted to tell you. I rewatch this show all the time because even though it’s dated (it ran for five years from 1996 to 2000, of course it’s dated), it’s still the best, and if it aired now it’d be super amazing because THE INTERNET and FANDOM would totally love a show like this.
It was pretty white, though, spoilers.