Review of "John Doe"

published 24/02/2004 | CRIPPLE
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A man wakes up on a deserted island, way out in the middle of the sea. He’s naked, alone and confused. Plunging into the waters below, he drifts for some time until he is finally rescued by a fishing trawler.

Arriving in Seattle, with nothing but the clothes the fishermen gave him, he has no memory of his life before the island. But he does have a prodigious knowledge of other things; everything in fact. And using this trivia database in his head, he is able to glean a few hundred dollars from an audience of passers-by in a quick question and answer session.

Those few hundred dollars are enough to start him on his way to riches, via the stock exchange, and set him up in a warehouse apartment. From there he resolves to answer the questions about himself which have eluded him, including the meaning of the crescent scar on his chest. But the most important questions he needs to answer are: who is he, and where is he from?

At his first port of call, the police, but when they are no help, he runs ads, on the internet, in the papers etc. Eventually, being a suspicious character due to his immense knowledge of the unknowable, he winds up in trouble with the law, and the only way out is to convince the police that he can really do what he says he can do.

Little by little, John Doe becomes trusted by Frank, the police detective who arrested him, and ends up solving the crime for him. After a few more adventures of this kind, John takes on the role of a police consultant, called in for every unsolvable case they have. But there is always part of him, in virtually every episode, which is getting closer to the truth of who he is.

Toward the end of the series, the search for his identity takes over, with some very strange and unbelievable characters appearing. The ending, well if you’re interested, you’ll just have to watch and find out for yourself. I’m not going to spoil it for you.

The series gets of to a slow start, which is only to be expected bearing in mind the depth of character they are trying to build into John Doe himself. Bear this in mind if you are considering starting to watch the re-runs.

As we get further into the series, more and more characters appear and disappear without real explanation or grounding. This can be very annoying, especially if you are more of a casual viewer, as it leaves you wondering who so-and-so is and where did they spring from, or where they went.

The fact that John Doe knows absolutely everything about absolutely everything also begins to grate after a while, especially when he insists on spouting the knowledge at all given opportunities. I don’t care that the average length of a toe-nail clipping in northern Nebraska is 0.1cm less than that in California, and for me it doesn’t make good TV, even if it helps solve the Jack the Ripper case. We don’t want to hear it all the time.

I also question the ethics of the Seattle police department if they are going to allow a man with absolutely zero traceable history to go through their most sensitive files. Even if he is a savant.
If I were a rape victim, I’m pretty certain that I wouldn’t want an untrained civilian, who could be some pervert, to be flicking through my intimate details. Yet according to this programme, that’s what might happen. Yes, I know it’s only TV but even so !!

The programme actually had real potential until they started introducing the Deaf Man. The thought of a brigade of deaf people is not all that scary, not like large alien monsters with splat guns.
Why they couldn’t just run it as a normal conspiracy without introducing this ‘twist’ is beyond me.

And the ending, well…… Answers on a postcard as to what that was all about.

The acting is not adequately summed up by the word DIRE. I’ve seen less wood in a B&Q megastore. The cast may be a bunch of little-knowns, but that hardly excuses their inability to actually act, does it?

It’s amazing to me that the SCI-FI Channel can bring us such classic programmes as Dark Skies, Poltergeist: The Legacy and First Wave, can also churn out this less than average garbage.

Having said that, I would encourage you to try it. We are all different and I’m sure that some people would find it entertaining. But if you do, please let me know what the hell is going on.

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Comments on this review

  • xadoc published 25/02/2004
    LOL. I'd never heard of it. Now I'm not sure if your review has intrigued me enough to find this and watch it, or to run screaming from it. Who knows! Sounds like a valid reason for not getting Sky TV, is all I can say. x
  • ElizaF published 25/02/2004
    I have never seen this although I have to admit that the plotline that you outlined has me interested :) xx E.
  • hotrodkzn published 25/02/2004
    Sounds interesting - great review.
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Listed on Ciao since: 13/02/2004