The Pretender

NBC (ended 2000)
Rate Show
1,795 votes
  • Episode Guide
  • S 4 : Ep 22

    The Pretender: Island of the Haunted

    Aired 12/10/01

  • S 4 : Ep 21

    The Pretender 2001

    Aired 1/22/01

  • S 4 : Ep 20

    The Inner Sense (2)

    Aired 5/13/00

  • S 4 : Ep 19

    The Inner Sense (1)

    Aired 5/13/00

  • S 4 : Ep 18

    Corn Man A Coming

    Aired 5/6/00

  • Cast & Crew
  • Michael T. Weiss


  • Andrea Parker

    Miss Parker / Catherine Parker

  • Patrick Bauchau

    Sydney / Jacob

  • Jon Gries


  • Harve Presnell

    Mr. Parker

  • Photos (1)
  • show Description
  • The Pretender is the story of Jarod, a boy-genius taken from his family as a child. Jarod possesses the ability to quickly learn and impersonate different jobs and occupations. His abductors, a facility simply known as The Centre, tested his abilities through various simulations. But after years of these performances, Jarod becomes wise to the fact that these simulations aren't being used to help people. The Centre sells the sims to the highest bidder to do with as they please, whether it is for good or evil purposes. Knowing this, he breaks free from his captors. Now, as an adult, Jarod sets out to find his family. Along the way, he befriends many people, righting any wrong by using his abilities to become anyone he wants to be. But the Centre has a lot invested in Jarod, and they won't give him up easily. They recruit Sydney, his father-figure and trainer all through his time growing up in The Centre. Sydney is the only man who is close to Jarod, he knows how he thinks. Also in pursuit is Miss Parker, Jarod's childhood friend whose father runs The Centre. Both are aided by Broots, a nervous computer whiz who goes above and beyond the call of duty (whether he wants to or not). The Pretender ran for four years on NBC. TNT co-produced two Pretender movies with Twentieth Century Fox TV. The Pretender 2001 premiered on TNT Monday, January 22, 2001 at 8PM. The second movie, The Pretender: Island of the Haunted, premiered on TNT Monday, December 10, 2001 at 8PM ET. Seasons 1-4 and both TV movies are currently available on DVD.moreless

  • Top Contributor
  • walrus_8463

    User Score: 212


  • Trivia & Quotes
  • Quotes (230)

    • Narrator: There are extraordinary individuals among us known as Pretenders. Geniuses with the ability to insinuate themselves into any walk of life, to literally become anyone. In 1963 a corporation called the Centre isolated one such Pretender, a young boy named Jarod. Locked in a controlled environment, they exploited his genius for their "unofficial" research. Then, one day, their Pretender ran away.

    • Jarod: How many people died because of what I thought up?

    • Sydney: (to the camera) This one has only been with us for thirty-six hours and he's already demonstrating more talent than any of our others. (to Jarod) Hi, Jarod. I'm Sydney. I'll be taking care of you for a while. Younger Jarod: Why? Where's my mom and dad?

    • Mrs. Nikkos: You a doctor? Jarod: I am today.

    • Younger Jarod: Cree craw toad's foot...geese walk barefoot...

    • Sydney: You were such a happy little girl. What happened to you? Miss Parker: I grew up, Syd. So should you.

    • Miss Parker: Make up your mind, Sydney! Be a scientist or a mommy. You can't be both.

    • Andy: (pointing to x-ray film) Any special reason you're looking at those? Jarod: Any special reason you're in here half-naked?

    Show More Quotes

    Notes (31)

    • The Centre, first seen here and will appear in nearly every episode, is actually the R.C. Harris Filtration Plant, located in Toronto, Canada.

    • At the end of this episode, Miss Parker shows a photo of Jarod to two Coast Guards at the dock. The one with the mustache, Mark Dodson, at the time was a physical therapist and a lawyer (pretender in training). Mark went on to become a writer and producer on the series, scribing eight episodes including "Quallupilluit" and "Corn Man".

    • Since this was the pilot, this episode doesn't have the opening title sequence. Also, Miss Parker utilizes a room filled with computers and technical experts which you never see in the show again. They're probably all replaced and represented by Broots. Jarod's room is also a miniature palace, but later in the series his room is a cell.

    • In this episode, the young Jarod is played by Jeffrey Shepard instead of series regular Ryan Merriman

    • Cameo: James Whitmore, Jr., the episode director, is uncredited as the gentleman who summons Jarod from the dressing room.

    • Since Jarod sent Miss Parker, Broots, and Sydney a doctored video tape with them transposed as Larry Fine, Moe Howard, & Curly Howard, the Centre trio has been called The Three Stooges by many Pretender fans. They're also known as the Scooby Gang for their 'dogged' pursuit of the mysterious Jarod.

    • Jarod addresses the package to: Miss Parker 431 Mountain Spring Rd Blue Cover DEL 01991 01991 is not a valid zip code. DEL is not a valid mailing abbreviation.

    • The section of the Vietnam War Memorial wall on which Mark Stevens' name is finally written upon is actually filled with the names of people related to The Pretender universe, among others: Ray Bunch (music compositor), Craig Van Sickle and Steven Mitchell (creators).

    Show More Notes

    Trivia (223)

    • When Jarod first calls Sydney, the phone on the desk has a power cord plugged into the back, but there is no phone line plugged in.

    • When Jarod calls Sydney, he calls himself Shreve Harmon. These were the men who built the Empire State Building. In this episode, young Jarod builds a replica of the Empire State Building in less than 2 hours

    • Jarod's Pretends: Tanker captain, doctor, Wall Street broker, fireman, airplane pilot

    • The Pretender was inspired by the life of Ferdinand Demara Jr., a genius with an eidetic memory, who could master any skill just by reading a book about it.

    • DSAs DSAs--Digital Simulation Archives--are the compact cd-roms that Jarod carries around with him everywhere and contain, apparently, a record of his entire life at the Centre. The archives can be retrieved by a playback computer contained in a silver Halliburton case he also carries. Although Jarod's shown to possess an eidetic, photographic memory, he'll often refer to a DSA record for inspiration or past sim knowledge. The Centre is as keen to retrieve the DSAs as they are to recapture Jarod since those are the only records of 30 years worth of their most gifted Pretender's simulations.

    • PEZ candy dispensers Jarod shows a distinct fetish for PEZ candy throughout the series and he'll often carry around a dispenser that matches the theme of his current sting or discovery. PEZ is an abbreviation of the German word for peppermint--phefferminz--and was invented in Vienna, Austria in 1927. The candy is most known for its unque toy-like dispenser that pops out one candy tablet at a time when the cartoon head is pulled back. There are over 300 varieties of PEZ dispensers available with six candy flavors in the US and many more distributed worldwide.

    • Jarod's Discoveries: PEZ candy, ice cream, Wheel of Fortune

    • Jarod's Discoveries: Oreo cookies & fake dog poop (novelty toys)

    Show More Trivia

    Allusions (118)

    • Mannlicher – He designed the rifle that 12-year-old Jarod used in his similation. The rifle was a bolt-action rifle with low recoil, excellent accuracy.

    • Doctor Frankenstein Sydney is compared to Doctor Victor Frankenstein because of his work on Jarod. The fictional Dr. Frankenstein discovered the secret of life and created an intelligent but monstrous creature. Victor keeps his creation of the monster a secret and wishes to destroy his creation.

    • Curious George is a monkey who is brought from his home by The Man with the Yellow Hat to the city. Some say that The Man in the Yellow Hat kidnapped George. George is too curious to obey the man in the yellow hat.

    • Jarod's surname: Russell (referencing Steven Jay Russell, famous real-life imposter and "pretender")

    • Wheel of Fortune Jarod discovers "Wheel" when he and a homeless man are watching TVs through a store window. He solves the puzzle with only a few letters showing. The puzzle was "THE COURTSHIP OF MILES STANDISH."

    • Miss Parker speaking of Jarod says he is a regular Siegfried and Roy, due to him escaping their grasp, this is a reference to a very popular Vegas magic act featuring the two men. They became infamous when one of their pet tigers, who they use in their act, attacked Roy during a live performance, causing serious injuries.

    • Jarod's surnames: Spitz (referencing swimmer Mark Spitz. This could also be a reference to Henry Spitz, a Nuclear and Radiological Engineer, since Jarod saves a nuclear power plant at the beginning of the episode), Campbell.

    • Simulation: 4-13-1970
      Jarod performs a simulation dated April 13, 1970. His solution is to use the gravitational force of the moon. This was also the solution to the infamous Apollo 13 mission, which would've been occurring at the same time. Thus hinting at the fact this sim could've been sold to NASA.

    Show More Allusions
  • Fan Reviews (66)
  • Emmy nominated Pretender Theme Music is on Youtube now

    By misterhappy, Mar 03, 2012

  • Starts off well, then loses its way and ends with a disaster of a show.

    By PeterJones3, Jun 10, 2011

  • Jarrod, Ethan, Miss Parker finally get to realise they are family from being imprisoned in The Centre when they were young. Jarrod escapes to lead a continues journey of dodging The Centres sweep teams trying to find who his family are. Fantastic series.

    By Thor_Asguard, Feb 02, 2009

  • One of the only original concepts developed into an irreverent and suspenseful TV show.

    By foghorn_clj87, Apr 01, 2009

  • Disappointing.

    By fredmonkey22, Aug 24, 2009

  • Latest News
  • Related