tek's rating: ¼

Believe, NBC
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This was co-created by director Alfonso Cuarón and some guy I never heard of, and one of the executive producers is J.J. Abrams. It's about a ten-year-old girl named Bo Adams, who has some sort of paranormal powers she can't control. For years, I guess she was raised in a facility run by a doctor named Roman Skouras (Kyle MacLachlan). He's the head of a project called Orchestra, which finds people with a genetic predisposition for powers like Bo's. I guess her mother, Nina Adams, was the first such person they found, but she died in childbirth. Since then, Skouras's partner in the project, Dr. Milton Winter (Delroy Lindo), has been like a father to Bo. But some time prior to the start of the series, Winter and several other people defected from Orchestra, taking Bo with them. (The only other person working with Winter who is at all familiar to me is Channing, played by Jamie Chung.) But rather than keeping Bo with them, it seems they placed her with a foster family, who are killed in the pilot episode, by a mercenary sent by Skouras to recover Bo. But before the mercenary can get Bo, she's taken to a hospital. Meanwhile, Winter's people break a man named William Tate out of prison. He was on death row, convicted of a murder he claims he didn't commit. Winter wants him to take over the job of protecting Bo. Tate is reluctant to do so, but he doesn't have much choice. And by the end of the pilot, Winter reveals, at least to his team, that Tate is Bo's biological father, a fact of which Tate and Bo remain unaware. (They do learn the truth eventually, though.)

Anyway, each week Tate and Bo will be on the run from both Skouras's people and the FBI (the agent in charge of capturing them is Elizabeth Ferrell). Ferrell's goal is basically just to recapture Tate, since he's an escaped con, but of course she also wants to protect Bo (believing Tate to be a danger to her). The FBI is ostensibly working with Skouras, though he and Ferrell have very different ideas about how to go about the task, and of course he has no interest in Tate, just Bo. Meanwhile, Tate and Bo receive limited help from Winter's team, including instructions to get to a different safe house in whatever city they're in that week. Not that the safe houses necessarily turn out to be very safe. But each week they also meet new people whom Bo helps out with some problem or other. So... the whole thing is pretty formulaic.

Well, the main reason I wanted to check the show out was because, based solely on print ads, pictures of Johnny Sequoyah (the girl playing Bo) gave me the same vibe I got back in 2002, seeing Dakota Fanning in print ads for the Sci-Fi Channel miniseries Taken. This show is not nearly as good as that was, but Sequoyah's an awfully cute kid, and a reasonably good actor. And she's the main reason I kept watching the show, for the 12 episodes that comprised the first (and only) season. Though I also found it interesting (for awhile) that it wasn't entirely clear whether everything was as it appeared. I mean, it's pretty obvious that Skouras is supposed to be the bad guy and Winter is supposed to be the good guy. The whole reason Winter took Bo away from Orchestra is he didn't want her being used as a weapon... and the project has ties to the military. But it's obvious that both Skouras and Winter genuinely care about Bo (and the other special people the project has found). And in spite of Skouras working with (and taking funding from) the military, I don't believe he wants Bo or the others to be used as weapons, any more than Winter does. On top of that, they're both willing to go to illegal lengths to control Bo, so really I think both men are complicated, both have good and bad aspects. So, there was potential for the series to become more complex and interesting, but it didn't take too many episodes for it to become clear that Skouras really was a bad guy (even if not 100% bad).

I suppose I should mention some other characters. There's a doctor at Orchestra named Zoe Boyle, who becomes increasingly disturbed by some of Skouras's methods of dealing with the special people in the program, as well as his efforts to recover Bo. So she does help Winter out, to some extent. And... there were other people working for Skouras, and other people working with Winter, and other people working for the FBI, but I don't really care about any of them. Toward the end of the series, Skouras finds a young homeless woman named Dani, who has a troubled past (her uncontrolled powers led to the accidental death of her brother). So he takes her in as the newest Orchestra recruit, and it seems she's even more powerful than Bo. However, she soon becomes jealous of Skouras's obsession with Bo, and decides to destroy everything he cares about... especially Bo. So, the season ends with Skouras and Winter working together to stop Dani from finding and hurting Bo, while Bo and Tate are actually looking for Dani, whom Bo had seen in a vision, and wanted to help her... and, you know, calm her down. And stuff.

Anyway, the series has about as satisfying a conclusion as one could hope for, I guess. And I'm kind of glad it didn't last more than one season, because I never really did feel like it achieved its potential, and it probably would have gotten tedious if it had lasted any longer. (Some might say it got tedious pretty early on, but I didn't exactly find it a chore to watch just 12 episodes.) There were also aspects of the show that required a greater suspension of disbelief than I'm used to (and I am used to doing some heavy disbelief-suspending). And, you know... as sweet as Bo was, she could be kind of a pain in the ass, for Tate. It's all well and good to want to help people, but she frequently put herself and her protectors at risk by doing so. It's like she had no sense of self-preservation at all. Plus it seemed to me like she didn't just want to help people, she needed to. Like, if her efforts failed, she could have had a serious breakdown, I think. I even started imagining that it would be kind of neat if she eventually realized the world just sucks, bad things happen to good people, and there's sometimes nothing you can do to fix it, no matter how hard you try. Even if you have super powers. I'd like to see that realization cause her to snap and decide, like, "Screw it, I'm gonna use my powers for evil or world domination or something." Yeah, that could've been a more interesting series, but of course it never happened. Still... I basically did like Bo, and the show did have its charming moments, and I'm happy to have seen it.


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