Aired on: ABC
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
I'd seen a lot of promos for The Whispers, a new television series airing on ABC at a time when there is usually nothing decent on television. Summer is when the reality shows begin to surface and is known affectionately...for those of us old enough to remember...rerun season. In this age of On Demand television and TV on DVD, the network folks have realized that the viewers want something intelligent to watch. Enter The Whispers, loosely based on a short story called Zero Hour by Ray Bradbury. I didn't know The Whispers was based on a short story at the time. The previews I saw led me to believe I was about to watch a really cool new ghost story...but what I got was so much more!
As The Whispers opens, we see Harper Weil (Abby Ryder Forston), a tiny, adorable little girl, talking to an unseen entity and agreeing to play some sort of game. Mom (Autumn Reeser) thinks it's adorable that her daughter is playing with an imaginary friend, strangely named Drill, and thinks nothing further of it. Later, we see Harper gathering things for Drill - normal kid things like chalk...and some not so normal things like a hammer and a screwdriver.
When Mom can't find Harper in the house, she discovers that her daughter has climbed into the family's tree house, something Harper is forbidden to do alone. Angry and more than a little distressed by Harper's unwillingness to listen to her mother, Mom climbs the long ladder to the tree house and, if only to get Harper to climb down with her, stands on the X drawn in the center of the tree house so Harper can win her game with Drill. Predictably, Mom falls through the floor, thanks to Harper's following Drill's instructions to the letter...she's apparently very good at games.
Recently widowed mom and FBI child specialist Claire Bennigan (Lily Rabe) is called in to investigate the incident. The conversations she has with Harper lead her to believe that there may be someone behind the seemingly imaginary friend named Drill. As she delves deeper, using the information that Harper gives her, she finds that another little boy played a similar game with what his mother believed was an imaginary friend. Also named Drill, this friend managed to get this young boy to create an amateur bomb. He was to lead his mother to the bomb's location, but at the last minute realized that maybe this was a bad thing and not really a game. He ended up killing himself to save his mother.
In both cases, a mysterious man (Milo Ventimiglia) covered in tattoos has been seen at the crime scene. We happen to know that this man ends up in the hospital with a case of severe amnesia after passing out writing the name Minx. This just happens to be the name of the next little girl (Kylie Rogers) on Drill's list.
Meanwhile, Wes Lawrence (Barry Sloane), a Defense Department Operative, is halfway around the world investigating a strange electrical phenomenon and something stranger found at its core - a United States military plane whose pilot had no reason to be in that location and was believed missing some thousand miles away in the Arctic. Whose the pilot you may ask? Well that would be the husband of Claire Bennigan who soon discovers, thanks to a sketch artist rendering, is also the mysterious man from her case's crime scenes.
Okay, there are a lot of twists in this show, but I think I have things figured out thanks to the warblings of the adorable...and incredibly creepy...Harper Weil. I definitely don't think we're dealing with ghosts here. No, sir! What we are dealing with is either an alien or a government experiment gone awry that is enabling an entity to speak to little children of a certain highly imaginative and vulnerable age through electric/electronic waves. The electricity part comes into play when we notice the subtle clues left for us that become less subtle as the episode progresses: the static on Mom's phone just before the door opens on its own, the flash of the porch light in the middle of the day as Mom prepares to climb the tree house, the electrical charges ranging around the crashed plane, the flickering of lights, etc.
Now, maybe this story seems like it has been done before...and maybe it has, but I think The Whispers is definitely worth watching. Why? Because the kids on this show creep me the heck out! Never mind the other actors in this series, it's the kids that are the stars here. Cute as buttons, they end up doing and saying the most disturbing things all in the name of winning Drill's game. Yikes! I've never been so creeped out by a television show in all my life. Seriously, there were shivers running down my spine by the end of the first episode. And, did I mention that Drill has just gotten to Claire Bennigan's son (Kyle Harrison Breitkopf), allowing him the ability to hear again in exchange for playing the game? Oh man, I can't wait to see how things play out on the next episode of The Whispers airing at Mondays at 10pm EST on ABC.