Whenever people bring up their favorite TV shows that were canceled ahead of their time, I always mention an obscure supernatural drama series called The Others, which aired for one season back in 2000 as part of NBC's Saturday night 'Thrillogy' programming. As an eleven year-old, The Others was one of the coolest shows around, something which had just as much earnest humanity as it did horror movie ghoulishness. I guess it was tonally all over the place, but it left enough of an impression on me to become that one show that I always talk about despite nobody having heard of it. Last year I re-watched Birds of Prey, another show I was a fan of as a kid, but found I was looking at it through rose-tinted glasses and that it was, in fact, pretty terrible. As a result, I was nervous about watching The Others again, since I would hate to see my opinion of it change. But so far I'm impressed.
Some of the dialogue is pretty clunky and the pilot has a real work-in-progress feel to it, but generally this was an enjoyable forty minutes. Holding the show together is its appealing cast, an entertainingly random collection of psychics and mediums led by Bill Cobb's majestic Elmer. Each member has their own little tics and quirks, but it's not overbearing or necessarily phony due to the knowing script. New age nut Satori has the potential to bug, so the script pokes fun at her stinky sage messing up the psychic senses of another one of the group. Old Albert is an argumentative curmudgeon, and John Billingsley's professor is a jittery nerd. They're all just a lot of fun, and it's an ensemble that immediately grabs your attention. The most intriguing is probably Warren, a seer so plagued with visions and thoughts that it's dented his own sanity.
Doctor Mark is superficially the blandest of the group, but I liked the scene where he told Marian about his abilities, and how he brought his pet dog back to life as a kid. Only to intentionally undermine it by following the sentence up with a reference to his parents potentially mending the dog by taking it to the vet, Mark unsure if he actually did anything at all. It's a cute moment.
Marian Kitt probably makes the least impression of the cast, and I'm not sure Julianne Nicholson completely works in the role. Then again, it felt like Marian was the weakest character on paper, used more as a plot device than an actual person. I remember her improving, but I may be wrong.
The pilot straddles two mysteries, one involving a pre-fame Malin Akerman looking pretty ghostly as a zombified dead girl who haunts Marian's dreams, and the other story a smaller subplot about an old lady's inheritance. Both are intriguing, and showcase the distinctive tones the show is reaching out for. Mick Garris directs with a gorgeous color palete, too, especially in those scenes on 'the other side', with Marian and Diane Stillman floating around and trying to find each other in the after-life.
The Others is an intriguing blend of The X-Files and The Sixth Sense, with a winning cast and a chilly atmosphere thanks to the Vancouver location shooting. So far, my memories of this show haven't been tainted. B+
Guest stars John Aylward (Albert McGonagle)
Writers John Brancato, Michael Ferris Director Mick Garris