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The Pretender intertitle
|Created by||Steven Long Mitchell
Craig W. Van Sickle
|Starring||Michael T. Weiss
|Theme music composer||John Debney (season one)
Rick Patterson (season two and three)
Velton Ray Bunch (season four)
Mark Leggett (season four, co-composer)
|Composer(s)||John Debney (pilot]
Charles Sydnor (1.1 [co-composer], 1.2, 1.3)
Velton Ray Bunch (all other episodes and TV movies)
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||4|
|No. of episodes||86 (List of episodes)|
|Running time||60 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Mitchell/Van Sickle Productions (entire run)
MTM Enterprises (season 1)
20th Century Fox Television (seasons 2-4)
|Distributor||NBCUniversal International Television Distribution
|Original run||September 19, 1996 – May 13, 2000|
The Pretender is an American television series that aired on NBC from 1996 to 2000. The series starred Michael T. Weiss as Jarod, a genius and former child prodigy with the ability to become anyone he wants to be, i.e., to flawlessly impersonate anyone in virtually any line of work. (e.g. a fireman, a doctor, etc.) Patrick Bauchau and Andrea Parker co-starred as Sydney, Jarod's childhood teacher and mentor, and Miss Parker, a childhood friend. They are both operatives for a mysterious organization called "The Centre", which took Jarod from his parents as a child and developed his special talents with the intention of making him one of their agents, while also using his brilliant intellect for their own evil purposes. After escaping from their custody, Jarod begins traveling the country, searching for clues to his true identity while posing as a doctor, police officer, attorney, or some other character who helps those in trouble. The Centre's directors are determined to return Jarod to The Centre to further their mysterious plan. A team of operatives, led by Miss Parker, attempts to find and capture The Pretender. Jarod's extreme intelligence combined with his childlike innocence to create a memorable and endearing character that was popular with viewers.
Following the show's cancellation on NBC, two television movies were aired on TNT. The plot of these movies picked up where the series left off. They were titled The Pretender 2001 and The Pretender: Island of the Haunted.
Jarod (Michael T. Weiss) is a child prodigy who was abducted at a young age and raised in a think tank called The Centre, based in the fictional town of Blue Cove, Delaware. Jarod's mentor and father figure is Sydney, a psychiatrist working for The Centre. Sydney coached him through a number of complex simulations designed to exploit his intellect for real life application. When Jarod discovered that The Centre was using data gathered from his responses for nefarious purposes, he escaped.
- "How many people died because of what I thought up?" Jarod (Episode: "Pilot")
Feeling personally responsible for the loss of innocent lives caused by The Centre, Jarod goes on the run. He dispenses a rather poetic brand of justice to criminals by luring them into staged set-ups that that usually lead to their downfall. The Centre is never far behind. Along the way, Jarod discovers the joys of the childhood he was denied while being raised in isolation at The Centre, such as ice cream and silly putty. The plot follows these characters as Jarod searches for his parents and for clues to his past. We find out that The Centre has also hidden certain facts about the death of Miss Parker's mother. As the show progresses, Jarod and Miss Parker both have a personal struggle with what The Centre has done to conceal their true identities. The Centre uses threats and other evil methods to keep them quiet. Later, it is revealed that Miss Parker is the daughter of the director of The Centre. She is "recalled from Corporate" to personally oversee the task of bringing Jarod back to The Centre. She becomes conflicted when Jarod finds out the details of her mother's death, and she has to choose between obeying her father and finding justice for her mother. Sydney becomes less loyal to The Centre when he finds out what The Centre did to his twin brother. The series ends with several unanswered questions about Jarod's family and what happened to Miss Parker's mother and baby brother.
- Michael T. Weiss as Jarod
- Andrea Parker as Miss Parker/Catherine Elaine Jamison Parker
- Patrick Bauchau as Sydney/Jacob
- Jon Gries as Broots
- Ryan Merriman as Young Jarod/Gemini
- Alex Wexo as Young Sydney
- Richard Marcus as Mr. William Raines
- James Denton as Mr. Lyle
- Harve Presnell as Mr. Parker
- Paul Dillon as Angelo
- Pamela Gidley as Brigitte Parker
- Jason Brooks as Thomas Gates
- Jeffrey Donovan as Kyle
After the series was cancelled, it was picked up in syndication by TNT. In response to an outpouring of emails from fans, which prompted negotiations involving the show's creators and both NBC and TNT, two telemovies – The Pretender 2001 and Island of the Haunted – were aired on TNT in 2001. Both movies ended with an unresolved cliffhanger.
The creators of the show, Steven Mitchell and Craig van Sickle stated in an interview on the French DVD of the telemovies that an ending was written for the series; they just needed financing to create it. In a September 2007 interview on the miniseries Tin Man, Mitchell and van Sickle noted that fans were still requesting an ending and that it would happen "soon" due to a relationship with "Strange Highway" Entertainment. They also noted that the story line would continue digitally on the web. On May 21, 2008, van Sickle again expressed interest in having a final episode or film to finish the movie, and asked fans to continue to be patient until it happens.
Profiler crossover 
Michael T. Weiss portrayed Jarod on the TV series Profiler during an NBC crossover event. The first half of the plot unfolded on The Pretender (season 3 episode 19 "End Game"), in which two lead characters from Profiler, Dr. Samantha "Sam" Waters (Ally Walker) and Bailey Malone (Robert Davi) guest-starred. The conclusion takes place in an episode of Profiler (season 3 episode 19 "Grand Master") in which Michael T. Weiss guest-starred. Jarod's alias at the time is Jarod Doyle, a police officer. He vanishes at the end of the episode, presumably on to another "pretend".
After Profiler's main character, Sam Waters, was replaced with a new profiler, Rachel Burke (Jamie Luner), there was another Pretender/Profiler crossover in which Jarod had a short lived romance with the new profiler. The first crossover between Jarod and Rachel took place in season 4 episode 10 "Clean Sweep" of Profiler and season 4 episode 10 "Spin Doctor" of The Pretender. Jarod also later appeared on the penultimate episode of Profiler, season 4 episode 18 "Pianissimo".
Nielsen Ratings 
FAITA Award (also known as First Americans in the Arts Awards):
- Outstanding Guest Performance by an Actor in a TV Drama Series – Tyler Christopher (2001)
- Best Performance in a TV Drama Series — Guest Starring Young Actor – Seth Adkins (1999)
- Best Performance in a TV Drama Series — Supporting Young Actor – Ryan Merriman (1998–1999)
- Best TV Series—Drama (1998–1999)
- Best Performance by an Actor in a Drama Series – Michael T. Weiss (1998–1999)
- Best Performance by an Actress in a Drama Series – Andrea Parker (1999)
- Best Genre TV Actor – Michael T. Weiss (1998)
- Best Performance in a TV Drama Series for Guest Starring Young Actor – Zachary Browne (1998)
- Best Performance in a TV Drama Series for Guest Starring Young Actress – Caitlin Wachs (2000)
- Best Performance in a TV Drama Series for Guest Starring Young Actress – Ashley Peldon (1999)
- Best Performance in a TV Drama Series for Young Actor – Ryan Merriman (1997)
- Best Performance in a TV Drama Series for Young Actress – Ashley Peldon (1997)
- Best Performance by a Young Actor in a Drama TV Series – Ryan Merriman (1997,1999–2000)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment released all 4 seasons on DVD in Region 1 between 2005-2006. They also released the two Pretender movies together as a set on March 13, 2007. All 4 seasons were re-released on May 26, 2009, with new packaging.
Since March 2008, all of Seasons 1 and 2, and most of Seasons 3 and 4 are available for streaming on Hulu Plus. As of March 23 2012, Hulu has stated they're working with their content providers to allow streaming of the missing episodes (namely 6, 13, 18 and 19 from Season 3 and 5, 19 and 20 from Season 4).
- TNT brings 'Pretender' back to life
- SoSF Interview With the “Tin Man” Creators Steven Long Mitchell and Craig Van Sickle – Slice of SciFi
- The Pretender – Season 1
- The Pretender – Season 2
- The Pretender – Season 3
- The Pretender – Season 4
- The Pretender – Movies Edition
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