‘Intruders’: ‘She Was Provisional’ / ‘And Here… You Must Listen’ review

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Intruders has a really solid conceptual foundation, a strong cast and a clear vision from X-Files writer and creator Glen Morgan, but nothing about the first two episodes makes it feel like unmissable television.

It’s a little too overwrought, so relentless in its deployment of mythology that it barely takes a second to think about character. It’s hard to see what exactly will pull audiences back to watch next week.

The story is all about those titular intruders and, while it’s fairly vague about things because it wants to keep its secrets close to its chest, the larger sci-fi aspect to the show concerns a shady group who have unlocked the keys to immortality by living through other people’s bodies. It does feel like something original and fresh, the kind of plot that could’ve fuelled a great X-Files episode. We follow characters affected by the activities of these unwelcome guests.

Intruders James Frain

James Frain serves up the “dangerous bad guy” thing effectively as assassin Richard Shepherd, but it’s through his character that we see one of the show’s main flaws. If he’s so deadly and everyone else is expendable, how can Intruders expect us to get attached to anybody else?

There’s only so much you can appreciate good tension with a dark and spooky atmosphere, the show needs a little more to pull it all together. It’s competently directed by Eduardo Sanchez (The Blair Witch Project), and there’s much about this series that is impressive, but it does feel like mostly surface-level appeal.

The show is largely joyless. Flashes of humour begin to emerge in the second episode, and they provide some encouraging signs about what the show could become. As much as it’s dark and mysterious, Intruders has to realise that there’s something hilarious about a menacing man being trapped in the body of an 11-year-old girl. Thankfully, it’s in this plot that the show is at its most interesting. Elsewhere, in the story about former cop Jack Whelan (John Simm) and his missing wife Amy (Mira Sorvino), things are drab and lack momentum.


Intruders would undoubtedly like to be talked about in the same breath as The Returned, because it taps into those horror and suspense angles while being about people coming back from the dead, but it already doesn’t have that show’s appreciation for detail in the construction of its characters and world.

Similarly, it doesn’t really invite comparisons to Orphan Black even if it has that conspiracy side to it. The other BBC America offering is all energy and ingenuity, whereas this is quietly creepy but lacking the crucial hook.

A great series premiere should make viewers eager to return for more episodes, and even with a double-bill Intruders doesn’t achieve that. It’s very self-serious, and it squanders its compelling premise. It’s not unsalvageable, though, the scripting is decent and the clunky exposition is kept to a minimum.

There are signs that the characters could become worth watching, there’s that strong concept at the core and with a slightly lighter touch this could be a riveting story about the darker edges of what you have to sacrifice to escape death.

It’s certainly not messing around with its mythology, and that might be enough to pull the audience back in for the third episode.


Aired at 9pm on Monday 27 October 2014 on BBC Two.

> Order Season 1 on DVD on Amazon.

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