A mys­tery about… erm… well…

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Boiled down to a one- line

pitch, In­trud­ers is a cu­ri­ous beast in­deed. After four episodes it’s still near im­pos­si­ble to sum up this new BBC Amer­ica show in a sen­tence. We wouldn’t be able to sell it to some­one in a lift. But let’s try any­way: it’s the one where a nine year- old girl is pos­sessed by some creepy old guy with a foul mouth. Ah, yes, but it’s also the one where John Simm plays an ex- cop turned mys­tery au­thor whose wife claims to be im­mor­tal. And then it’s also the one where an as­sas­sin is killing seem­ingly un­con­nected peo­ple. And for good mea­sure it’s the one where a man claims to have built a ghost ma­chine. Some­how th­ese all link to­gether.

To be fair, it may all end up be­ing very sim­ple. Cer­tainly there are pat­terns rapidly emerg­ing and the fact that In­trud­ers is based on a novel by Michael Mar­shall Smith ( and not a con­vo­luted story made up as it goes along, like Lost) gives you hope there’s a sat­is­fy­ing ra­tio­nale be­hind it all. But the show seems to go out of its way to try to keep view­ers off- kil­ter. There’s a snow globe ap­proach to the script. It’s like shards of dis­parate plot el­e­ments are bounc­ing around inside a glass dome, only slowly set­tling into some­thing recog­nis­able as a plot. If you think you know what’s go­ing on, you’re clearly not pay­ing at­ten­tion.

What keeps it watch­able is that each in­di­vid­ual scene has some­thing great to of­fer. Any mo­ment fea­tur­ing Madi­son is an un­nerv­ing de­light, with Mil­lie Brown ut­terly con­vinc­ing as the pos­sessed lit­tle girl. James Frain is cooly chill­ing as the as­sas­sin Richard Shep­pard. Simm turns out to be a great ac­tion hero as well as an en­dear­ingly con­fused hus­band.

Di­rec­tor Ed­uardo Sanchez ( The Blair Witch Project) gives the show a stylishly low- key spooky sheen, in which fig­ures mov­ing beyond frosted win­dows and ring­ing phones sud­denly take on an eerie res­o­nance. Some of the di­a­logue is a lit­tle cheesy, but he’s good at smoke and mir­ror­ing the ex­po­si­tion into some­thing more dra­matic.

The whole thing may ul­ti­mately turn out to be a case of style over sub­stance – it’s a show that en­gages in­tel­lec­tu­ally more than emotionally – but it’s re­fresh­ing to so far have a new show that can’t be de­scribed as, “It’s like this year’s big hit meets the X- Files.” Dave Golder

tv reviews and opin­ion “Yes, I’m im­mor­tal. But you’re not do­ing that.”

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