Frank Taylor -
Marcus Bradshaw -
Jessica Manning -
THEY ALSO SEE DEAD PEOPLE
OTHER MATTHEW FOX SHOWS
Frank Taylor is a private eye whose son was kidnapped in unexplained circumstances a couple of years before the events of the series unfold. It's an event that has taken its toll on him and his marriage. His ex-wife Jess still wants to be friends and his friend Marcus wants to help him through the hard times, but these relationships are about to get harder because now Frank Taylor can see ghosts.
Ghosts helping a private eye isn't exactly an original idea (RANDALL AND HOPKIRK(DECEASED) anyone?), but this show is dark and dangerous. Or at least, it started out that way. The opening Pilot is a belter and it looks like we're in for another MILLENNIUM, but over the episodes filmed, the tone was inconsistent with softer edges coming in and the paranormal being watered down into plots of almost pure police procedural with a token ghost on show.
The show is headlined by Matthew Fox (LOST) and he is the best thing about it, always convincing and an appealing lead, but the other characters never make an impact. Even Simon, the evil ghost that sets out to destroy Frank, often comes across as a bit peeved rather than really evil.
The series was abruptly cancelled and some of the filmed episodes never even got transmitted in the United States, but they finally saw the light of a TV screen in 2006 when ITV4 in the UK showed the entire series in the wake of the success of LOST. There was plenty of potential here and a longer run might have ironed the problems of tone and occasional schizophrenic wanting to be just a cop show, but that wasn't to be.Top
Frank Taylor lost his son in an unresolved case over two years ago and is still unable to come to terms with it, so when he is hired to find two other lost kids, he thinks nothing of going into the bad guyís lair alone. Stabbed, he nearly dies and sees his son in a vision. He also sees the child taker that he has just killed. Thatís not all he sees. A number of unclear visions gives him clues that take him back to the site of his stabbing and a confrontation with both another paedophile and a vengeful spirit.
Well now, this is a great start to a show and thatís no doubt. HAUNTED has set out its stall from the start with a tale as dark as they come, dealing with child pornography, kidnapping and murder, all with a background of rain and muted colours that comes straight out of David Fincherís SEVEN. This has the air ofdefinitely being a show for grown-ups and promises to take us places that other shows fear to tread. Darkness like that, though, is not beloved of the US television audience and is probably what led to its short run before cancellation.
The background is gritty and realistic and full of squalor and danger and you donít question it for a second. In front of that is Matthew Fox (Dr Jack in LOST in case you didnít know) who does pretty well with the trauma that Frank is dealing with. The supporting players arenít given any time for their characters to rise above the two-dimensional, but this pilot is only normal episode length and perhaps could have done with a feature-length origin story.
If the rest of the series lives up to this opening episode then this could be one of the great shows that got canned before its time.Top
Frank is investigating a missing girl and gets sucked into the underground world of sex and drugs of a top rock band. He sees the girl's spirit banging on glass and tells the parents, but they still want to know the truth, having lost one daughter in a car crash. Frank finds the body and evidence that implicates one of the band.
The plot of this week's episode is pure police procedural that we've seen a million times. What counts here is the atmopshere and that remains dark, gritty and often rained on. Matthew Fox continues to impress as Frank, but has already developed a soppy edge that doesn't bode well.
There is also a nice SIXTH SENSE twist in the tale that you ought to see coming, but might not.Top
Someone is killing off women connected to a photocopier company that are having affairs. Frank has visions that show him who and where the next will be, but he is always there too late. His wife and friend are becoming aware of his ability to solve crimes far more quickly than is normal and Jess has a bad feeling all the time. The serial killer, though, might not be all that he seems.
Once again, the plot here is a straight police serial killer tale that is given only a slight twist. The identity of the killer is not a big surprise to anyone and his reasons are banal at best. There are, however, a couple of good scares and the scene with the bathtub still manages to be scary despite us having seen its like a hundred times before. We all know he shouldn't put his hand in there, we all know that he will and we all know what's going to happen, but we all still jump.
The soppy edge that spoiled last week's episode is not in evidence, thank goodness and the reappearance of an old enemy leaves the prospect of some bad times to come for Frank and his family.Top
Marcus asks Frank to help him out with a case that is a little too close to home. The family of an old flame is being killed off and she is likely to be amongst the last to go. It all stems from a slave girl who cursed the family when they stole her baby and let her die over a hundred years before. Can Frank find a way to stop the vengeful spirit before she takes her final revenge?
OK, let's just forget the fact that a detective can bring a private investigator back into the force whenever he wants and that he is allowed to continue on a case when he is involved with one of the potential victims. That's called poetic licence. Let's talk instead about Frank finding the most attractive voodoo witch in the city and not even noticing. That is just plain wierd.
This is cliched stuff right from the start, but it is at least played out with conviction and doesn't have the happy ending that might have been expectd. Frank, it seems, can't win them all.Top
Frank is exposing an insurance fraud when he loses his sight momentarily. His tattooist guide on all things supernatural suggests that it might have something to do with the location and Frank learns that a tramp died there recently, a blind tramp. Hampered by his intermittent sight losses, he relies upon help to link the suicide of the old tramp to the murder of rich heiress and recover a lost artefact.
There is good stuff here and there is bad. We'll start with the bad and get it out of the way. HAUNTED suffers from a soft centre that threatens to undermine it from time to time. The fact that this is a homeless vietnam vet with a lost purple heart is piling up the sugary side to the point where Frank might be hearing from members of his audience before too long.
On the plus side, the blindness thing ups the personal ante a little and leaves Frank in some more exciting scrapes, although it does have the habit of striking at the least convenient time, just when it helps the plot the most. The regular cast is still top notch, though.Top
Frank wakes up without a memory and with a half dead policewoman on the floor. Whilst his wife and ex-partner try to keep him from landing in jail thanks to Internal Affairs, Frank searches around for some clue as to why this might have happened. The truth is that he might have done it as every night he is being possessed by the spirit of someone else.
Frank really isn't having a good time. Last week the spirits took his sight and this week it's his whole body. The rest of the plot is pure police procedural with a resolution that just isn't very interesting as well as being obvious from a mile away. Frank could have seen it last week when he was blind.Top
THREE HOUR TOUR
Frank suffers a car crash and stumbles into a remote cabin where he discovers a small family and a mystery that can only be solved by risking his life. Meanwhile, Jessica visits his apartment and finds it being inhabited by something that isn't Frank.
OK firstly we have absolutely no idea how the title fits into the plot. It really doesn't seem to have any relevance. Of course it could just be that we weren't watching too closely. This episode has no real tension and no real mystery either. There isn't anything for the actors to work with either, so the performances are pretty nothing as well.Top
Frank is digging into the past of the man he killed in the first episode and who has been haunting him ever since. Simon takes exception to this and possesses Jess's new boyfriend, leading Frank to attack him and get locked up. The truth about Simon proves to be less straightforward than Frank thought and the spirit offers a surprising alliance.
Now this is a really interesting episode. Simon Deane, the malevolent spirit, turns out to be more complicated than just an evil paedophile and offers Frank some hope that his son is still alive. The main storyline moves a little bit forward and the show has more depth and subtlety than the usual ghost of the week format. The threat, however, is real and palpable with Frank's nearest and dearest being threatened with almost nothing he can do to stop it.Top
Frank meets the very attractive Julia Caulfield, but she turns out to be a ghost haunting his favourite bar. Even as he is falling in love with her, Franks starts to piece together what happened to her and why she is still waiting in the bar where she died. Now all he has to do is stop her from doing something that will damn her for ever.
Strange, but after the show's been cancelled, the episodes have shown a real upturn in quality. This one has little in the way of real tension or fear as the better earlier episodes have had, but there is more of an emotional connection with this one. This comes almost exclusively from the presence of Ruth Livier as Julia and her relationship with Matthew Fox. There is a real chemistry between them that makes what happens to Julia important and adds depth to the storyline.
What a shame that it didn't live much longer.Top
Frank checks himself into a lunatic asylum in search of a missing person who was last seen there. On the inside, he learns of a fire and a badly burned figure is haunting the place, but his investigations are hampered as the staff become more convinced that he has real problems of his own to deal with.
Asylums are, by their very nature, creepy places. There is very little that is scarier than the thought of losing your own mind, so the idea of being a sane person amongst lunatics is uniquely scary. Add to that the possibility that your sanity is being undermined by both the inmates and the staff and the scenario is set for anyone's worst nightmare.
Once again, Frank meets a pretty girl and it is his relationship with her that forms the core of the story, whilst the mystery is fairly straightforward and not exactly earth-shattering in its revelation. The lunatics are indeed taking over the asylum.Top
Frank Taylor is starting to come apart. His spirit nemesis Simon is not letting him sleep and in the dark moments of the night thoughts of suicide in order to join his son run through his head. He is saved when his psychotherapist asks for his help in tracking down a missing videotape, one which could land her in prison. The trail leads to two men, one a potential, one quickly becoming a corpse. Then there's the ghostly woman who seems to be manipulating everyone.
This is a straightforward police procedural wit very little supernatural input at all. The moment that the ghostly woman appears in the light of a torch is nicely handled and the finale in the train shunting yards is well done, but the rest could be any cop show anywhere.
This is the last episode of HAUNTED filmed, but never shown in the US. It is clear that the makers didn't know they were going to be cancelled or they might have made more effort to go out with a bang.Top
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