The Pretender



Multi-layered suspense will engage older tweens.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The main character devotes his life to helping acquaintances resolve past wrongs -- even when it puts his life in danger. But the series includes a lot of iffy behavior -- like theft, dishonesty, murder, and suicide. The lone recurring female character is a no-nonsense leader, but she often shows her temper's short fuse.


Depending on the subject matter, there's potential for fistfights and confrontations with guns, knives, and other weapons. Characters are occasionally shown dying; photos depict corpses with gunshot wounds. Plot topics touch on murder and suicide.


Themes sometimes touch on things like extramarital affairs and illegitimate pregnancies.


"Hell" and "damn" are used infrequently; in the syndicated version of the show, words like "bastard" and even "panties" (in the context of "don't get your panties in a wad") are bleeped.


Rarely, products like Cracker Jacks get air time.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

The main female character often smokes, and others sometimes join in.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this action series is packed with heart-pounding suspense. Storylines often deal with topics like murder, abduction, conspiracy theories, and corruption, and sometimes it's hard to tell whether a character's intentions are good or bad. The main character remains steadfast in his efforts to help those around him, despite the fact that he's being tracked by people bent on forcing him back into the exploitation he escaped. The show's violence and subject matter ensure that it isn't for little kids, and its changing nature (each episode introduces a new storyline and cast of supporting characters) makes the subject matter unpredictable -- so parents may want to preview a few episodes before letting tweens tune in.

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What's the story?

THE PRETENDER centers on a man named Jarod (Michael T. Weiss), who escapes a covert research facility called The Centre -- where he has lived since he was taken from his family as a boy -- after learning that his genius intelligence has been exploited in immoral ways. Cloaked in mystery, The Centre trains kids with high IQs to integrate into any situation and become experts in any field, using their adaptability to evil ends. Beautiful-but-fiery Centre operative Miss Parker (Andrea Parker) leads the effort to recapture the rogue escapee, aided by Jarod's longtime confidante, Sydney (Patrick Bauchau), and computer whiz Broots (Jon Gries). But thanks to the assimilation skills that years of Centre training taught him, Jarod stays one step ahead of them, keeping constantly on the move and posing as everything from a fashion expert to a hit man as he pieces together the mysteries of his family's past. Hoping to make amends for his role in The Centre's evildoings, he also uses his gifts to right the injustices he encounters and better the lives of the people he meets.

Is it any good?


Mixing emotional drama and suspense with mystery and touches of fantasy, The Pretender is a fun choice for thrill-seekers who can handle the many plot twists and heart-pounding surprises that lurk around nearly every corner. But check out a few episodes before giving tweens the go-ahead, since the show's shifting nature and often-mature themes -- which, along with the supporting cast, change in nearly every episode -- makes episodic subject matter (including violence and language) difficult to predict.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how this show compares to more recent crime/action dramas. Does it seem less violent? How do you think it would be different if new episodes were airing today? Families can also discuss helping others. What do you get out of assisting someone in need? Tweens: Have you ever lent a hand to someone you didn't even know? Why did you do it? How far would you go to help someone? Would you do something immoral or illegal if it was for a good cause?

TV details

Cast:Andrea Parker, Michael T. Weiss, Patrick Bauchau
Networks:Hallmark Channel, Syndicated
TV rating:TV-PG
Available on:DVD

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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