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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Nowhere Man: The Complete Series
Nowhere Man: The Complete Series
Image // Unrated // December 26, 2005
List Price: $49.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by John Sinnott | posted January 3, 2006 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Recommended
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The Show:

In 1995 the young UPN network was looking to add some strong shows to its lineup.  Attempting to cash in on the X-Files phenomena that was happening over at Fox, they gave the green light to a show that was created by Lawrence Hertzog: Nowhere Man.  About a man who had his identity erased by an unknown organization this show took the paranoia of the X-Files one step further and made a show that is easy to get into.  Unfortunately, the program only lasted for a single season but now those 25 episodes are available in a nine disc DVD set that lets fans sift through the program at their leisure looking for clues as to what's really going on.

Thomas Veil (Bruce Greenwood) is a photographer who has traveled to the world's hot spots and recorded the events that he's found there.  The night he opens his first gallery exhibition, Tom goes out to a nice restaurant to celebrate with his wife Alyson (Megan Gallagher), but things take a bizarre turn.  Returning from the bathroom, Thomas finds his wife gone, and no one recalls seeing her.  His telephone number is disconnected, his bank cards are invalid and the locks on the doors to his studio and house have been changed.

Things get worse when he knocks on the door to his home.  Alyson answers but doesn't know him.  Neither does his dog, nor the man who claims to be Alyson's husband.  Breaking into his studio, he finds one of his pictures, appropriately entitled "Hidden Agenda," missing.  The picture, taken in a jungle somewhere, shows a group of hanged men with some US soldiers looking on.  Could this be the reason that his identity was erased?
 

Hidden Agenda

While attempting to talk to his wife the next day, Thomas gets arrested and put in a psychiatric hospital.  They try to convince him that he's crazy, but Tom knows who he really is.   Overpowering a guard, he takes his psychiatrist hostage and goes back to his studio.  There the doctor finally reveals a piece of what has been going on.  There is an organization after him, more powerful than he can imagine, and they want the negative to his picture (which he has carefully hidden.)

So starts the journey of Thomas Veil.  Who is after him?  Why do they want his negative?  Is that what they really want?  Is his wife involved in this?  How could they have so completely erased his existence?  Who can he turn to, and who can he trust?  Over the next 25 episodes Thomas looks for answers, and for ends up finding more questions than answers.
 
This show was heavily influenced by The Prisoner, especially the episode where he ends up in a village of other "disenfranchised" people that is impossible to escape from, and like that cult classic, it does some things right but gets a few things wrong too.  The show has a wonderful claustrophobic feel to it, and after watching an episode or two it is easy to get into Thomas' head and feel his (justified) paranoia.  As he goes from town to town looking for answers the conspiracy against him seems to grow and grow.

Just about all of the episodes deal with the overall plot in at least some fashion, and there are possible clues sprinkled throughout them that are fun to try to discover.  The story gets a little complex in parts, but that's a good thing too.

There is also a paranormal thread to the mystery that pops up early on and is hinted at a few times though the corse of the show.  Could aliens be responsible for his disappearance?

The show also asks some interesting philosophical questions too: What is a person, fundamentally?  Are they the sum total of their friends and possessions, and if so how do they change if all that is taken away?  These are played up in some shows more than others, but it adds to the unsettling feeling that permeates the program.

The individual episodes are a mixed bag too.  While there are more enjoyable episodes than stinkers, there are several that fall into the latter category.  Forever Jung, where Thomas discovers the Organization is making people younger, for a price, was pretty stupid.  A Rough Whimper Of Insanity, where Veil meets up with a reclusive computer hacker also lacked the drama and suspense that the better episodes had.

The biggest problem with this show though is the ending.  The show was cancelled after its first season, and the last two episodes serve as a hurried finale.  Holding out hope for a last minute reprieve, the series is open ended, and the final story asks more questions than it answers.  Like Twin Peaks or The Prisoner, the conclusion wasn't satisfying and really leaves a bad taste in your mouth.  The journey was fun, but the destination wasn't.

The DVD:


 
The entire 25 episodes of this series come on 9 single sided DVDs.  These are presented in a book, with a DVD on each side of 'page', which is housed in a slipcase.  There is also an insert with episode synopses.

Audio:

The stereo audio quality is fine for a TV show.   There isn't a lot of range, but that doesn't hurt the program.  The dialog and effects come through clearly, and the background music sounds fine.  While this isn't the most dynamic DVD you'll ever hear, it still sounds good.

Video:

The full frame video doesn't look as good as I was hoping, but it's not bad.  The image is fairly clear but there is a bit of grain to the image and  the colors are a tad muted.  The image isn't as crisp as it could be either, with some scenes being on the soft side.  There is a bit of aliasing in the backgrounds too, though it isn't distracting.  Most of these defects won't be noticed on a small screen, but people with larger displays will probably notice them.  None of these defects ruin the show, but they don't help it either.  Overall a slightly less than average looking transfer.

Extras:

There's a good amount of bonus material included with this set that will please long time fans as well as those who've just discovered the show.  There are nine commentaries altogether, with Lawrence Hertzog, Bruce Greenwood, producers and directors all reminiscing about the show.  There are several interviews scattered over the nine discs with Lawrence Hertzog, Bruce Greenwood, producer Peter Dunn, and a few directors which were all very interesting.  Promo spots for several episodes are included too.

That would be more than enough for most sets, but this one goes above and beyond the call of duty.  There are also two interesting featurettes that are included.  The first one has creator Lawrence Hertzog talking with a former UPN executive about the show, creative control and why it was cancelled.  The second is entitled Fact or Fiction? and has an ex-CIA operative talking about conspiracies, mind control and other aspects of the show.  I didn't find this as interesting, but altogether this is an excellent set of bonus materials.

Final Thoughts:

Like a murder mystery where the criminal is never discovered, the ending (or lack thereof) of this show really casts a pall over the whole series.  When all is said and done, this is a mystery without any firm answers, and that's more than a little disappointing.  If you can look past that though, there is a lot to enjoy in this series.  Like 24 (a show that creator Lawrence Hertzog also works on) this program has a lot of suspense and paranoia.  Just who should Thomas trust, and who's out to get him?  There's an excellent amount of bonus material included with this set too.  In the end analysis though, it is the intelligent scripts and excellent acting by Bruce Greenwood that earn this set a Recommended rating, even with the weak ending.

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