Rae Dawn Chong
OTHER MYSTERIOUS WAYS SEASONS
OTHER PARANORMAL INVESTIGATIONS
Eleventh Hour (UK)
Eleventh Hour (US)
OTHER ADRIAN PASDAR SHOWS
Declan Dunn is an anthropology professor at a university in Portland, Oregon. Peggy Fowler is a psychiatrist at the hospital there. Together with Declan's assistant Miranda, they investigate strange events that may seem initially like miracles, but could be something much more prosaic.
MYSTERIOUS WAYS as in 'The Lord works in...'.
That sums up the series. There are many explanations that are put forward for all the strange things that go on in this show, some of which are believable, but there is always the hint that there was more to it than that. Sometimes the explanations might be clever, astonishing, funny and brilliant. Others are downright stupid and seemingly trivial.
What really makes the series fun, though, isn't the mysteries that are solved each week, but the trio of characters at the heart of the show. Adrian Pasdar makes Declan a clumsy, human, likeable chap who quite often gets carried away with things, but retains the wonder of the world we live. Rae Dawn Chong takes the disbelieving psychiatrist and makes her into a warm, vulnerable woman much more rounded out than the one written. Alisen Down is mostly in the background, but her almost wordless performances as Miranda round off the great team.
MYSTERIOUS WAYS won't rock your world, but it is entertaining enough to pass the time agreeably and occasionally comes up with a serious point about life and the world around us whilst only occasionally lapsing into sermonising.
A young boy falls through the ice on a frozen pond. Instead of dying, he survives. Hospital psychiatrist Peggy Fowler has enough to do comforting the worried mother, so she is not best pleased when Declan Dunn, a professor from the local university shows up to investigate how the boy was saved.
This opening episode gives us two likeable people who form a bond in a manner that is believable for a change. Adrian Pasdar and Rae Dawn Chong play it light and pleasant and the mystery of what happened doesn't strain the brain too much. What is interesting is the way that the plot wraps everything up in a logical fashion and then strips it away with a completely different and more spritual possibility.
The tune Amazing Grace is overused throughout, but it is one of the powerful pieces of music ever written so it does have an effect.
A dying man promises to contact his wife exactly one year after he dies. Declan and Peggy want to know if the dead keep their promises.
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Declan and Peggy come across a town that seems to have produced an above average quota of successful people. Visiting the place, they discover Martha, a woman supposed to have the gift of luck in her hands. Everyone wants her touch, which keeps her locked up in her room, unable to work, unable to function.
An absolutely wonderful episode, this, that takes a great central idea and then makes it something dark and worrying. If this woman existed then this is indeed what her life would be, hounded and exploited. The only thing that mars the story is that it doesn't end so much as just trickle away.
Declan is depressed so Peggy decides to take him on a white water rafting trip. The raft flips and Declan finds himself with a broken leg, bleeding head and being helped by folk from a nearby camp. As he heals, he looks to return to his friends and his job, but there seems no way to communicate with the outside world and the campers seem reluctant to help him return.
It's a bit early in the series for Declan to be thinking about giving it all up as a failure, but that's what he does here. The rafting trip has barely begun before it finishes and pitches Declan into his surreal camp experience. It may all turn out to be Pincher Martin moment, but it is intriguing for a while - before it outstays its welcome.
When Declan and Peggy travel to town supposedly protected by friendly spirits, they find a community still in grief following a great tragedy. The townsfolk believe the spirits to be those of their dead children and so don't want to upset the balance, but that might be the only way to bring closure to the town and to right a decade-old wrong.
Because it is a busful of kids that were killed, this episode of MYSTEROUS WAYS get a bit overemotional and overwrought at times. The explanation that they come up with for how the spirits have been evoked is overcomplicated and so unbelievable that the ghosts of kids seems a much more rational way to go.
Declan senses that something out of the ordinary is happening when two of his students show responses to tests that are remarkably similar. As neither of them was raised by their biological parents, he senses that they might be related. When one of them falls ill, the question becomes of something more than academic importance.
This is one of those episodes where it sets up an explanation that is the obvious one and then shoots it all to pieces before coming up with another one. It's also one of the few episodes where it then even explains that one.
A woman with mental problems is hearing a voice. Nothing strange in that, but this voice is telling her to do things that change her life immeasurably for the better. When she wants to go and help in Kenya, however, her husband decides that things have gone too far.
This is a story about mental health issues, not about investigating the mysterious. The fact that the voice switches from the mother to the daughter when the woman is on medication is barely even noticed by Declan. The question is whether it is better to have someone on medication that ruins their life or deal with their issues that make life really hard for everyone. Good questions all, but not in a good sci-fi story.
Miranda wants to go to Alaska for no reason. When one of Peggy's patients exhibits the same compulsion they all go there and find two other men thinking the same way. Then they want to jump off a cliff, which is worrying for Declan. What ought to be worrying him more is that they also want to wear afro wigs and sing rhythm and blues numbers.
This is an absolutely great episode. The behaviour of the people in question is utterly bizarre and seemingly without explanation. Then a link between Miranda and the men is discovered and finally the compulsion to leap from high places. Due to the nature of what's happening to here, the story takes Miranda to some very dark places indeed before the resolutely upbeat conclusion.
Plus, there's the sight of Miranda fronting the most unlikely R&B combo in history singing 'Midnight Train to Georgia' on a clifftop. You have to see it to believe it
A college freshman finds that leaving home and going to college wasn't enough to shake off the demons that have been haunting her all her life. Peggy thinks that it's all in her head, but Declan sees it happen with his own eyes and sets about proving that it is either more or less than it seems..
This is a very dark episode. It deals with mental illness of a very real kind, parental influence so strong that it must qualify as abuse and the prosaic inhumanity of kids to those that are not like them. The fact that the solution is not a supernatural one is completely eclipsed by the fact that the solution does not bring resolution. This is a great story.
Whilst cleaning windows, a man falls 200 metres into the car of an architect and walks away without a single mark on him. The architect is persuaded to offer him a job as he is looking to change his life in the wake of the incident, but then her search for her missing daughter becomes more important.
Science once again proves that freaks of nature are responsible for what might have been a miracle, but the show is not willing to let it go at that. There is a circle to be closed here and, though it can be guessed at long before it actually happens, it is a conclusion that is both neat and surprisingly moving, perhaps because it merely is what it is and doesn't attempt to be anything more.
One of Declan's students starts to see a middle-aged black man in the mirror. He experiences visions of the man's life. When research shows that the man was murdered and his killer is on Death Row awaiting execution, the race is on to find out what really happened.
There are some nice touches here, most especially Declan's concern when the student starts to come onto Miranda. This amuses Peggy no end and it's the character interplay that makes not only this episode but the whole show work. I could have done without the man on the verge of execution angle as this has been done so many times that it automatically reduces interest.
Declan's investigations into a woman who can predict the future through written messsages that she does not control becomes extremely personal when she predicts the death of his estranged sister. Peggy is more concerned that the woman has to drink copious amounts of red wine for the messages to come.
This is an average entry into the series. The personal angle with Declan's guilt over his father's illness and how it drove his family apart is somewhat contrived and does hammer home the fact that a lto fo weird things seem to happen to either Declan or the people that he knows. Still, it's always entertaining thanks to the light and airy performances from all involved.
A patient visits Peggy to cancel an appointment and then commits suicide. Peggy has never lost a patient and takes it hard, right to the point of seeing the dead man's ghost who seems to want to say something. Declan investigates the death, hoping to help Peggy, but finds that his sideline might actually put his day job under threat.
If Peggy was renamed Melinda then what we have here is an episode of Ghost Whisperer. Because Peggy is so affected by the events and Declan has problems of his own, there isn't as much banter and fun character stuff either.
One of the more formulaic and less interesting episodes.
Following the gang-related murder of a young boy, a stained glass window of the Virgin Mary cries tears of blood. Declan begins to investigate and figures out how it may be being done, but that doesn't answer the question of who is doing it, or why. And even if it isn't a real miracle it has changed the lives of the people in the neighbourhood. Would telling the truth be the right thing to do?
The mystery of the crying window starts off this cracking story in real style. The murder of the young child is fairly brutal for this show and that puts everything in context and gives the ethical dilemma that Declan faces some real depth and power. And whilst the the mystery is easily solved, the ending offers no easy solutions, not for the problems of the neighbourhood and not for the real mystery of the crying window.
Episodes like this are why we keep watching this show.
A hidden settlement is uncovered and reveals a number of surprising finds, but Declan is more interested in the fact that the guide's damaged leg is miraculously healed in the tomb. One of the researchers has irreperable eye damage suddenly healed. The source appears to be a rapidly disintegrating piece of cloth that might once have wiped the face of Christ on the way to the cross. And then Declan's assistant falls ill.
Now there's an interesting moral and ethical dilemma for you. How do you weigh up the ability to definitely save the life of one person against the possibility of being able to save thousands, if not millions in the future. Is one certainty worth more than a million possibilities?
This episode starts off light and bright and funny and then changes into some serious and quite deep. The illness that strikes down Declan's assistant is a bit clumsy in story terms, but it can be forgiven for the questions that it raises.
A cop accidentally kills his partner in a shooting. He prays to take it back and wakes up to find himself at the start of the same day. He has been given a chance to change the day, but things continue to go as they had before. How can you change history when history doesn't want to be changed?
It's a GROUNDHOG DAY set up, but the idea that the day cannot be changed is something new and challenging. It also means that not everything get tied up as neatly as is usually the case and that you actually have to think about things just a little.
A man gets a premonition about a plane crash and decides not to go on it. The plane then crashes and he is the only survivor. The seat he should have been in, 19A, miraculously survives the crash. The seat turns out to be significant in the life of one of the plane crash widows.
It's nice to see, from time to time, that some of the events that Declan investigates actually do have logical explanations. Of course, the premonitions are not explained. Sadly, the sentimentality that is prevalent in the show takes over here and undermines the otherwise entertaining story.
A man struck deaf by a lightning strike 20 years earlier gets struck a second time and finds his hearing has returned. Not just returned, but is actually so highly attuned that he might actually be able to hear the future.
What starts off as a story much like the others becomes more interesting as explanations to the things that the man is hearing start to emerge and it becomes clear that logic and sense actually explain everything. It's also nice to see Declan and Miranda in full scientific research mode at the start, recreating lightning strikes.
Declan's Dog bites him on the bum and then goes missing. Whilst Declan starts to get his rabies shots, Peggy deals with a patient suffering from a near death experience in which she saw her recently deceased daughter and a visiting cardiologist who may not be what he first appears.
There's a lot going on in this episode, but it doesn't really add up to very much. The main story with the parents suffering the loss of their daughter and shakiness of their relationship is trite and so utterly predictable as to be painful.
Much more interesting is the plot with the cardiologist. Whilst Declan tracks him down and finds that he is many things to many women, all of them good, he is treating Peggy well and shining a little light into the darkness. Is he an angel? It seems that he must be, but why should he make it so easy by using the same name and appearing to so many women in the same city? It doesn't matter because it's kind of sweet, just like the saving of the dog at the end (as if it could go any other way.
A young girl wakes up first in the park and then in a play area without ever having left her house. Peggy talks to her and her parents and it soon becomes clear that the marriage is on the rocks and the daughter is suffering. Which doesn't explain how she shows up at the aquarium when the scientists are watching her. Peggy finds parallels with a painful part of here own life.
It's obvious from the start that the parents are at fault for their daughter's problems, but never is it explained how she does what she does. The twist of then having it happen to the parents is a nice one that is wasted by the ease with which they change their minds and fall in love all over again. It strains credibility about as much as Peggy deciding to find her father only to find out that he died just the week before. That's a dramatic contrivance too far.
Declan's mentor comes for a visit and admits to seeing strange visions that turn out to be memories, possibly caused by the pressure of a tumour on a certain part of his brain. Peggy, meanwhile, is having a hard time with a friend from medical school who is falsifying her research claims.
This is a story all about Declan and his relationship with his mentor. The visions are bizarre, and amusing, but they lead nowhere except in the examination that it makes both men go through regarding their lives. The supposed solution is thrown out in a couple of minutes dialogue right at the very end of the show. Not a good episode.
The hospital gets worried when a dead man sits up in the morgue and starts talking about his amnesia. As he slowly recovers from his physical injuries, he learns that he was not a nice man and Declan and Miranda start to believe that he was murdered. As he loses his job and his wife, it becomes their opinion that he was attacked by the forest animals. The truth may lie with an animal, but one closer to home.
A light-hearted and downright silly episode rounds of the series and is all the more welcome for it. The murder theory is interesting for a few minutes and is discarded before it can cause any damage, but when Declan starts to think that the animals did it the cast play up the comedy and everybody has a good time. The final explanation as to what might have caused him to come back proves to be quite fun as well.
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