The strength of this pilot is its aura of intrigue, and the questions left hanging should entice UPN’s audience (episode airs after “Star Trek: Voyager”) to tune in next week. The drama series also has an appealing anchor in Bruce Greenwood (“St. Elsewhere,””Exotica”) as the hero-on-the-run. Who has erased photojournalist Thomas Veil’s (Greenwood) identity? The “why” has something to do with a photo he took of an execution titled “Hidden Agenda.” Whoever they are, they’ve gotten to everybody, including his wife (Megan Gallagher). Veil and wife duck out of a big exhibition of his work and head for their favorite restaurant. When he returns from the bathroom, she’s disappeared and another couple is dining at their table.
So begins Veil’s odyssey. The conspiracy is so extensive that another man is living with his wife in their house, his ATM card doesn’t work, his mom denies his existence, and his best friend is offed. The locks on his studio have been changed and “Hidden Agenda” is missing.
Veil ends up in a suspicious mental hospital run by one Dr. Bellamy (Michael Tucker). Prophetic cellmate Eddie (Ted Levine) issues cryptic clues before being silenced. Veil has the wherewithal to escape, go back to his studio and mail negatives of his pics to himself at post offices around the country. Pregnant final scene at a crossroads in Iowa lets us know we’re in for a road series.
Executive producer-writer Lawrence Hertzog takes his time with the 90-minute pilot and it pays off. Dialogue includes a few standbys, like “You have no idea what you’re up against.” But the title character has all the right ingredients — he’s intelligent, physically fit (though he smokes) and suitably outraged at his fate.
Director Tobe Hooper (“Poltergeist,””Texas Chainsaw Massacre”) is expert at foreboding. He hints at supernatural causes that are most likely misleading; small touches, such as a curious number of classical statues, could prove meaningful. Action sequences are brought off well.
Story is given an edginess thanks partly to music and some lighting effects (though thunder and lightning are overdone). Tech credits are generally solid. Supporting performances aren’t quite first-tier.