Alibi V.23 No.37 • Sept 11-17, 2014 

Idiot Box

Body Snatchers

“Intruders” on BBC America

Anchored by the 2005 revival of “Doctor Who,” BBC America’s “Supernatural Saturday” has played host to a number of high-quality sci-fi and supernatural shows. With franchises such as “Torchwood,” “Primeval,” “Outcasts,” “Being Human” and “Orphan Black,” BBC America is doing a better job of filling the genre TV niche than Syfy. The newest series to fill the post-“Who” timeslot is the mysterious conspiracy thriller “Intruders,” and it comes with an impressive pedigree.

The series is based on British author Michael Marshall Smith’s 2007 novel The Intruders. It’s written, produced and developed by Glen Morgan, whom most TV watchers will recognize as the co-writer/executive producer of “The X-Files.” Eduardo Sánchez (The Blair Witch Project) and Daniel Stamm (The Last Exorcism) are trading off directing duties on the show’s eight-episode first season. All in all, that’s some impressive behind-the-scenes talent. And it shows through on screen.

Eerie and absorbing, “Intruders” takes viewers into a cultish underworld of human beings who don’t believe in death—a philosophy more or less validated by the fact that the members of this supernatural conspiracy have been alive for centuries. But “Intruders” isn’t interested in handing us its premise on a platter. Several episodes in and mere scraps of the “bigger truth” have been uncovered.

Our protagonist on this journey of discovery is Jack Whelan (John Simm, best known as The Master on “Doctor Who”). Jack is a retired LAPD detective with a violent and troubled past. In recent years he’s grown accustomed to living the quiet life with his wife, Amy (Mira Sorvino), in small-town Northern California. But when an old classmate shows up at his doorstep looking for help with a strange murder case and his wife suddenly goes missing, our man Jack finds himself in the middle of a globe-spanning super mystery.

Evidently members of a secretive group known as Qui Reverti (loosely translated as “those who have returned”) have been cheating death by hiding their souls in the bodies of other people. It’s impossible to tell who these immortal souls are. They could be your wife. Or your daughter. Or maybe the president of the United States. It’s equally hard to tell what their endgame is. All we know is they are out there. And that a member of Qui Reverti known as Richard Shepherd (James Frain from “The Tudors” and “True Blood”) is wandering around killing them. Is he following Qui Reverti’s grand design, or has he gone rogue?

“Intruders” is short on answers and heavy on backstory. But it strikes just the right balance of storytelling and mystery building. Viewers have been wary about this sort of long-form puzzle ever since “Lost” kind of burned us by burning out. Unlike other “mythology”-heavy shows like “Battlestar Galactica,” “Falling Skies,” “Extant,” “Under the Dome” and (to a certain extent) “The Leftovers,” “Intruders” seems to be rock-solid on its concept. It feels like the kind of show that will really reward the weekly commitment of its viewers and not stretch its secrets unnecessarily—or worse, end up unsure of where it’s going. So if you’re looking for something to get obsessed over, “Intruders” is the hot ticket of the late summer season.

“Intruders” airs Saturdays at 8pm on BBC America.