Turn Back The Clock
Nowhere Man: The Series
Distributed By: Image Entertainment
Reviewed by Justine Manzano
Well folks, it’s time for another cancelled classic! This one’s a good one and one that requires turning back the clock to boot! Think the end of 1995 and the beginning of UPN. Add to that the single most paranoia-inducing show you probably weren’t watching and you’ve got Nowhere Man, a psychological thriller. Nowhere Man is an important Turn Back The Clock for me because it was the first television show I can remember viewing that expected it’s viewers to think and never force-fed them anything. Ever since I first watched the show I began to expect a little more from my television series—so if you’ve ever read me complain about the lack of intelligence in TV programming, this is the show you would blame it on!
Nowhere Man went a full season on the brand new network, UPN. The season ended with a bang, a jaw-dropping shocker, and everyone watching knew that it was the end of the series, though it was marketed only as the season finale. Some shows are just too innovative to last forever. Having been released on DVD early this January, I have had the happy chance to relive my days trying to unfold the mysteries of Nowhere Man from a point of view I’ve never viewed the show from before—as a person who already knew the answer to the puzzle. How well did it keep up with it’s own shocking ending? Read on.
Nowhere Man starred Bruce Greenwood (now known for roles in iRobot and Thirteen Days) as photo-journalist Thomas Veil. The series starts with the low-key Tom being tortured by boredom while attending a gallery showing of his photos. Wanting desperately to escape and let the photos speak for themselves, Tom escapes to dinner with his wife Alyson (Megan Gallagher) at their favorite restaurant, where they are regulars. The two argue a little over the fact that Tom chose not to invite his estranged mother to the gallery opening and to cool himself off, Tom excuses himself and goes to the bathroom to sneak a cigarette. When he returns, his wife is gone, someone else is sitting at the table, and the manager of the restaurant has no idea who he is. Believing his wife has taken a practical joke one step too far, Tom heads home in the rain, only to find that when he gets home, his keys don’t fit the lock and his wife not only doesn’t recognize him, but claims to be married to another man.
Desperate for answers, Tom begins to question everything he has ever known in the search for some kind of understanding of what has happened. The closest he can get is the understanding that one of his photos, named Hidden Agenda, in which a government sanctioned hanging is shown, is responsible. After questioning Alyson, it becomes clear that an organization is after him and that they will do anything to get the negatives to that photograph. By anything, I mean ANYTHING. They play with Tom’s head, drugging him, chasing him all over the country, setting elaborate traps for him, etc. Soon, it becomes clear to Tom that he can trust no one but himself and he begins a cross-country search to discover what the importance of the photograph is. This leads him on the tail of a conspiracy whose secret will leave your jaw-dropped at the end.
The DVD set for this series has a bunch of great extras. There are commentaries, with show creator Larry Hertzog and series star Bruce Greenwood as well as many other members of the crew. Ten years later most of the group who made the show come back together. The commentaries can be heard as an audio overlap to the episode or a video split-screen with the episode where you can see the commentators react. There are featurettes about the making of the show and the conspiracy and interviews—my personal favorite of these is one in which Megan Gallagher (Alyson) and Bruce Greenwood shoot the breeze and discuss old times. The best DVD extra is the deleted scenes section, in which the deleted scene is lined up with a split-screen shot of how the episode actually ran, showing you where the scene was supposed to be in the course of the episode and in altered scenes, what was changed. By far, the most disappointing special feature would have to be the section labeled “Outtakes”, which wasn’t some zany cast behavior, but actually just unused promo footage—talk about misrepresentation.
After immersing myself in loads of Nowhere Man, I realized that the show was a little cheesier than the way I remembered it. It was a mid-nineties low-budget show and it showed, but the story was very interesting although slightly unbelievable, and the ride is fun as all hell! The acting is well-done, although the director does go overboard sometimes. In the end, this is definitely a must-have for anyone who likes conspiracy theories, action, and paranoia in their TV or anyone who wants to have to work at piecing together a puzzle. With as complex as the story was, I found myself shocked to hear in the interviews that the producers had no idea where they were going with the series when it started. Well, you sure had us viewers fooled! Loyal fans and thinking TV fans will be pleased.