NBC’s contribution to the paranormal landscape is “The Others,” a sketchy peek into the dark side and all of its mumbo jumbo. With a serious promo push and some big-name talent behind the camera, there are high hopes at the Peacock web for DreamWorks’ new series. But now that auds have been bombarded with innumerable supernatural pics and programs, it’s far from a sure bet that they will maintain a constant craving for this kind of spooky stuff.
Created by vet scribes John Brancato and Michael Ferris (“The Game”), “The Others” takes a group approach to spirits: Kooky nutjobs sit around and visit the future, the dead or whatever happens to dominate their subconscious that week. To its credit, directors Bill Condon (“Gods and Monsters”) and Tobe Hooper (“Poltergeist”) have already wrapped upcoming episodes, and it’s hoped their styles will generate bigger oohs and aahs than the Mick Garris–helmed pilot.
Debut introduces viewers to the players and their metaphysical strengths. Warren (Kevin J. O’Connor) is a skittish psychic; Mark (Gabriel Macht) is a hunky medical school intern who sympathizes with people in turmoil; Satori (Melissa Crider) has a New Age sensitivity; and Albert (John Aylward) is a cranky blind man with heightened perceptions. They all participate in a circle that discusses the eerie goings on in their creepy minds.
We see exactly how they operate after they meet Marian (Julianne Nicholson), a university student haunted by visions of a girl who died in her dorm room. Ghoulish and intense, the illusions attract the attention of Miles Ballard (John Billingsley), a professor who has conducted extensive research on mythology and folklore. He invites Marian to sit in with “the others,” and medium Elmer Greentree (Bill Cobbs) promptly detects her ability to communicate with the afterlife.
Reluctant to open up, Marian eventually befriends the gang as soon as she realizes they use their gifts to help people. First stop: a haunted house, where an old woman is frequented by strange incidents that seem to be connected to her husband’s death. Like a team of Ghostbusters ready to lend a hand, the oddballs try to uncover all the details while Marian investigates her own ghostly past.
A lot of effort certainly went in to this weird world; “X-Files” alumni Glen Morgan and James Wong are along for the ride as exec producers, and their experience goes a long way toward avoiding cheap thrills. But the intention only means so much, and it doesn’t make up for uninteresting people. While nobody’s expecting another Mulder and Scully, the roles here are one-note: no humor and no sparks, just a lot of paranoia.
And there doesn’t seem to be anyone to root for when the evil forces rise up. While this is an ensembler, Nicholson does most of the heavy lifting, and she’s not really up to the task; she doesn’t come off as someone who battles demons. The rest of the cast is adequate, but razzle-dazzle requires more than mediocrity.
Some nifty editing highlights the dream sequences, and peculiar storylines should provide plenty of opportunities for clever special effects use.