Dark force takes over tots in Spielberg-produced ‘Whispers’

31 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Whispers’ is child’s play turned deadly.

More than alright: In the case of some of the best suspense stories, children are absolutely essential. As fun chillers ranging from “Village of the Damned” to “Children of the Corn” to “The Omen II” have demonstrated, children can do the damnedest things.Although “The Whispers” was developed by writer Soo Hugh, ABC is eager to cite Steven Spielberg’s involvement, and no wonder: This summer series is a veritable mashup of the director’s filmography — a pinch of “E.T.” here, a dollop of the Spielberg-produced “Poltergeist” there, and a soupcon of what might be called “Invisible Encounters of the Kid Kind.” None of that takes away from the modest enjoyableness of the show, which drips clues over the first three episodes, as kids interact with an “imaginary friend” only they can see.

That’s one of the lessons of “The Whispers,” an ABC suspense series whose executive producers include someone who often gives lots of credit to young characters, Steven Spielberg. ET/PT) features family drama, geopolitical peril and paranormal mystery, all woven together via eerie conversations children are having with their invisible friend, Drill. Now from executive producer Steven Spielberg comes ABC’s “The Whispers,” in which innocent-looking tots follow the orders of an imaginary pal and unleash mayhem on their loved ones — and maybe even bring about the destruction of the human race. The programming onslaught includes the return of critical darlings such as “Masters of Sex,” “Orange Is the New Black” and “Hannibal,” as well as reality favorites such as “America’s Got Talent” and “So You Think You Can Dance.” In addition, we’ll get our first taste of “Fear the Walking Dead,” the spinoff of AMC’s zombie sensation, and we will bid farewell to the alien-invasion drama, “Falling Skies.” Yes, it can be overwhelming, but we’re here for you.

Shorthand description? “A supernatural Homeland,” says Barry Sloane, who plays Wes Lawrence, a Defense Department official investigating geological mystery in the Sahara Desert as his daughter, Minx (Kylie Rogers), is communicating with Drill. Psst, parents: If your adorable tyke says his or her invisible friend has such an ominous sounding name as Drill, take it as a warning to lock up the sharp objects and stay out of the tree house. Monday, the show doesn’t choose just any locale to spin its tale: The kids in question reside in Washington, D.C., so their alleged new buddy knows where to strike if gaining power and influence is the aim.

The exploration of both events, which may be connected, is complicated by the married Wes’s past affair with FBI child specialist Claire Bennigan (Lily Rabe), a former subordinate. As the youngsters allegedly are guided into increasingly alarming actions by their unseen pal, known as Drill, an FBI agent (played by “American Horror Story” veteran Lily Rabe) who specializes in child behavior is drawn in.

Be aware that, in some cases, we have viewed only preview clips, so we’re largely going on the project’s premise and the talent involved. 1. “Aquarius” – David Duchovny gets a buzz cut and is beamed back to the 1960s for this drama about an old-school cop on the trail of Charles Manson (Gethin Anthony). Claire, dealing with the recent crash death of her Air Force pilot husband, investigates the children’s communications with Drill, unaware that her son, Henry (Kyle Harrison Breitkopf), is among those in contact. “She is the right woman for the job, whether it’s personal or not, because it involves children. Suspenseful thrills mix with evocative tunes from the era. (premiered May 28, NBC; all episodes available at www.nbc.com ) 2. “The Whispers” – The ads for this spooky supernatural saga have us totally freaked out. She credits Steven Spielberg, an executive producer, for having “this incredible magic touch in finding the most amazing kids” for the children’s roles. “These characters have to deal with complicated things emotionally, and we get to play all that in the midst of great tension with conspiracy, government and the mystery,” he says.

In addition, her dalliance with a Defense Dept. operative, Wes (Barry Sloane, not far from his “Revenge” mode), has complicated both of their lives. Young Harper Weil (Abby Ryder Fortson, adorable and a fine young actor to boot) is playing a game with her imaginary friend, Drill, who we perceive as a gust of wind or a flicker of lights. Producers reworked the original pilot to disguise mystery elements, although they will reveal some answers — such as Drill’s identity — early in the season. As noted, there are a lot of familiar elements here: Kids interacting with a slightly malevolent presence, a strange visitor that the parents can’t see, and the always-reliable device of flickering lights and appliances. Despite the otherworldly elements, Estrin says viewers can relate to a real-world concern regarding raising kids. “We’re taking that to the extreme as to who or what is going to be the influence on our children if we do not pay better attention.”

It’s a mystical tale that follows eight people in disparate parts of the world whose lives are suddenly and inexplicably connected as they battle for survival. What she discovers are other crimes and other children, all of them linked to Drill, and all of them sparked by a child-like determination to win a game coupled with anger at a distant or distracted parent. She deems that “one of the greatest joys I had doing this show.” “I think all children are pretty extraordinary, and getting to work with children is always so much fun, because it’s exactly what you’re chasing all the time in a scene partner … which is someone who just wants to play and who is completely, wholly present. The adults, meanwhile, are serviceable for the purposes of the plot, but could use a little work character-wise, starting with Rabe, who, in terms of the way she delivers lines seems to have taken the title a bit too much to heart. June 5, Netflix). 4. “True Detective” – We’ve lumped Season 2 of this anthology series in with the new stuff because it features a totally different cast (Colin Farrell, Vince Vaughn, et. al.), story and setting in Southern California.

Ventimiglia has been doing some fascinating work the last few years (in addition to racking up a body count on “Gotham,” he starred in and produced the recent crime thriller “Tell” and also produces Crackle’s addictive conspiracy show “Chosen”), and his character’s behavior is sure to spark some fun conversations among viewers. It’s always advisable to keep one foot on the floor with such programs — two other Spielberg-produced series, CBS’ “Extant” and “Under the Dome,” offer reminders of that wisdom — but “The Whispers” has a polished feel, enough twists, and moves just well enough to steadily build on its central mystery. Over the next three episodes, Drill’s reach expands — as does the cast, which cleverly stretches to include ET’s Dee Wallace, who knows a thing or two about children involved with otherworldly beings. Jack Black is a “lowly Foreign Service officer” who plays an improbably key role in the effort to avert a global crisis that just might lead to World War III. The larger problem, however, is endemic to many such sprawling conspiracy series: At a certain point, you begin to wonder whether Drill isn’t going the long way around with a plan that seems unnecessarily complicated given the powers he seems to possess.

What if they decided to take it back?” That’s the provocative log line for this thriller based on a James Patterson book about a wave of vicious animal attacks sweeping the planet. As with so many series, enjoying Whispers is a matter of clinging to the parts you like and sighing through the parts that seem either broken or borrowed. (Could we possibly call a moratorium on scenes where a character’s paranoid state of mind is revealed through a conspiracy board of pictures and clippings with lines drawn between them?) Watch for the creepy scenes with the children and hope the rest eventually pulls together in a way that makes sense. July 16, FX). 8. “Humans” – Welcome to a “parallel present” society where the cool, must-have gadget for any busy family is a Synth – an amazingly lifelike robot who helps out with the chores.

June 30, MTV). 10. “Another Period” – This broad parody follows the misadventures of an insanely rich and totally clueless family living in Rhode Island at the turn of the century. Robot” – This psychological thriller follows a young programmer (Rami Malek) who becomes a vigilante hacker when the mysterious leader (Christian Slater) of an underground group of agitators recruits him to destroy the firm he is paid to protect. (8 p.m.

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