When "The Pretender" premiered, I was hooked. The premise is ideal for series TV - a guy who can literally take on any profession, travelling the country in search of his identity and righting wrongs along the way. Mixed in was the hunt for Jarod by his former captors, and backstory as to what their nefarious plans were.
I ate it up for the first season and a half, even going right along with the mystery of who killed Miss Parker's mother, the enigmatic Mr. Raines and so many other Centre machinations that intruded more and more on Jarod's adventure of the week.
But, like a lot of shows premiering in the shadow of "The X-Files" (and 1996-1998 were really the glory days of that show), "The Pretender" ultimately aimed too high in creating its mythology. Soon, it seemed like all of the primary characters were related, their parents were all banded together in treachery, people returned from the dead and died again...and a good little show with a neat hook became a weird conspiracy-centered show that had lost track of its original premise.
I lost touch of the show midway through Season 2 as the Centre storylines continued to spiral out of control. I rented the rest of Season 2 and started to watch Season 3 on DVD and couldn't get through it. I know some people may have preferred the focus on the history of the Centre, but I liked the weekly mystery/adventure stories, where Jarod would use his genius intellect to help people and to punish the bad guys. From what I have read, Seasons 3 and 4 continued the emphasis on family drama and Centre espionage, so I don't think I missed much.
But when it was good (Season 1 mostly), man this show was good! Michael T. Weiss was a strong leading man, and he was able to convey Jarod's childlike innocence, as well as a kind of sociopathic streak when the bad guy of the week got "pretund." Andrea Parker was an effective Emma Peel type until producers got the bright idea of making her soft and sweet. And the underrated Patrick Bauchau was superb as the scientist/father figure Sydney, who despite his kindness was always enigmatic.
A great premise and debut season, but it got carried away with the cloak-and-dagger stuff. Worth checking out, I'd say, but don't stay with it too long.