The Pretender

TV Guide
Zelig meets The Fugitive, with a little bit of The Equalizer thrown in. ... "Part of the audience will get the sophistication of The Pretender, and others will enjoy the chase scenes and heartwarming moments," says co-creator Craig Van Sickle. According to Van Sickle, actor Weiss, who plays Jarod Russell (a.k.a. the Pretender), will be the key to the success of this humanistic thriller. "He's not some vapid hunk who could be at Chippendale's. He's got a real look in his eye." ... In the pilot, Jarod performs an emergency tracheotomy, cures constipation, and eats ice cream for the first time. The Pretender is as corny as Kansas in August, but you've got to appreciate a show that tries this hard."

PrimeTime Review

A man that can be anybody, perform any occupation, and blend in. Hmm... Quantum Leap? The Fugitive? It has been done before, but The Pretender pulls it off and turns out a really enjoyable show. ... This show promises to be one of the best this season, and Michael T. Weiss plays a character that can really be admired, and want to root for each week.

Bottom Line: Michael Weiss is charming, bright, and unpretentious. If the scripts can remain that way as well, this show could take off.

Cathode Reviews -- Beatdown Magazine

The Pretender is equal parts The Fugitive and Quantum Leap. ... "The Pretender is fairly light entertainment, popish, not overly cerebral, but fun. The series does have serious themes, but they are cut with humor.

Jarod's continuous wonderment as he discovers the outside world never lets the atmosphere get as dark and oppressive as a series such as Chris Carter's Millennium. The series has real charm, inspite of the lead's goofy looks, and some of the cheesy gags the show sets up when Jarod discovers something we take totally for granted. Jarod's wonderment at the sight of plastic dog doo was a bit much, but at other times seeing an adult view the world with unspoiled eyes can be quite refreshing."

At times the series gets too sappy and mopey. One gets tired of hearing Jarod whining "I don't know who I am Sidney." However, the added subplot surrounding the suicide of ice maiden Miss Parker's mother at the Centre, as well as the fact that Parker and Jarod both knew each other growing up together at the Centre could turn out to be quite interesting.

Stay tuned.

Washington Post

It's kind of a cute little novelty item, a cross between Highway to Heaven and The Fugitive, and while it's basically easy to take, it's just as easy to avoid.

-- Tom Shales

UTV News

The plots are well-written, the cast is well-suited to their parts, and consistently give good performances. Pretender leads the viewer on a action-packed suspense-filled hour.

Most notable is Michael T. Weiss as Jarod Russell. His dark, sinister looks contrast with Jarod's angelic behavior. His compassionate nature, and intelligence will appeal to both men and women. Michael's character beckonsto leave the mundane behind, and follow him on his ever changingadventures.

-- Patricia Lewis Cramer

Mr. Showbiz

Someone aptly called this The Fugitive meets The Equalizer. ... It's solid, engaging drama, but without much suspense, and Weiss renders a rather colorless performance. According to a report from Leo Burnett Media Research, this series fared better than E.R. in focus-group testing.


A master of disguises joins this fall's hero list by Edward Gross Jarod, the lead character in NBC's The Pretender, is this fall's man of a Thousand Faces, but he's far more than Artemus Gordon redux. This quick-change artist eschews makeup and accents in favor of actually becoming other people.

Rolling Stone

The Pretender, a failed mutation of The X-Files, Zelig and The Fugitive. One question: If the title character can become anything he wants, then why wouldn't he make himself the star of a better show? Don't say a prayer for this Pretender. All its hopes and dreams begin and end here.

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