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Betaed by KB. Any remaining errors belong to me.

The Pretender Survival Guide: A Guide For The New And Used in The Pretender Fandom.

With help from Cassy, Sezzie, Mandy, all the loons, my flist, and random people I grabbed on the street.

Hi, and congratulations on ordering a TX90002d automotive Welcome To The Pretender Fandom Kit (in six great colours). Please keep your arms and legs inside the vehicle at all times. Thank you.

There are three parts: The Show, The Movies and The Fandom. Within each are lessons including ones on characters and fanon. If you find yourself having problems telling the difference between those two examples please let your friendly operator know and they will be happy to help direct you towards, where I'm sure you'll be at home.

On this lesson you shall learn all about the show The Pretender and the fans who enjoy it. You shall even learn a little something about the fandom itself. Please accept the spirit with which this was written, that is humour. (The ‘u’ you see there implies the 50% more sarcasm.)

Part One: The Show

Lesson One: Plots

The Pretender’s plot isn’t so much complicated as lacking in logic and continuity. While travelling through Pretender Land one should expect to be explosion but not bullet proof (if you are a good guy) and just everything proof if you are a bad guy.

The main plot of The Pretender is summed up in the intro: ‘In 1963 a corporation known as The Centre isolated a young pretender named Jarod and exploited his genius for their research, then one day their pretender ran away’. It can also be summed up as—

Jarod: You stole me!
PTBs: You don’t know that. They could have given you to us!
Jarod: My childhood sucked!
PTBs: Shut up and watch the first season, you had a man who loved you and a room full of cool stuff. There is worse shit that happens.
Jarod: I want my family!
PTBs: Shut up.
Jarod: *angst* *woe* *escape*
PTBs: Ah, fuck! I knew those grown man sized air vents were a bad idea! *rings Miss Parker*
Miss Parker (from corporate): What?!
PTBs: Uh, you, like, need to come and find Jarod.
Miss Parker: And I won’t get my old job back until I do it?
PTBs: Uh… yeah!
Jarod: *saves people and doesn’t really look much for his family*
Miss Parker: *snarks* *smokes* *looks hot*
Sydney: *amused grin*
Jarod: *angst* *woe* *woe* *looks hot*
Broots: *randomly appears* *is not hot but geeky*

And that is the magical tale of how the Pretender came to be.

Lesson Two: It’s all about the family.

Minor characters are unimportant unless related to someone else. And pretty much everyone is related to someone else. Had The Pretender continued we are convinced that Broots would have been Miss Parker’s great-great grandfather’s second cousin twice removed’s long lost dog groomer's uncle.

Family is very import. In fact it is the most important thing. If you do not realise this now, you will after 4 seasons of having it rammed down your throat being informed so. Family maths will help you keep tabs on your family. This will be difficult because as you journey through Pretender Land siblings, parents, and long lost twins will jump out from behind bushes for no apparent reason. Do not shoot; they are not bullet proof.

At the beginning of your journey work out how many family members you have. We will take the example of Jarod.

Early in the first season we had one child (him), one mother (deceased), and one father (deceased).

At the end of season one we had three children (him, Kyle (deceased), Emily), one mother (alive) and one father (alive).

So over the course of the season he picked up two parents from the dead, gained two live siblings, but lost one quickly after.

Over the next season he picked up one live sibling, only to quickly lose him again, and then was tormented with the possibility of being a twin. It is widely believed that there were in fact two versions of the episode Bloodlines. But in the commercial break after Jarod calls Miss Parker ‘sis’ an army of angry homicidal ‘shippers broke into the studio and forced them to re-shoot from then on. Therefore, Lyle became Miss Parker’s sibling and not Jarod.

Over the next season he picked up one clone, and no siblings. Thank God.

In the last season he picked up one half-brother and a girlfriend. But we don’t talk about her (for more information see Zoë, the bitch that should die die die)

In the first movie we picked up no siblings.

In the second movie we picked up no siblings. It was the only redeeming feature of the movies, in fact.

Thus, throughout your travels it is expected that you will pick up at least one sibling – probably a twin. Also, any parent or sibling you already had that was deceased when you began your journey will be resurrected mysteriously. Unless it is Catherine Parker (see Why the dead don’t stay dead).

Do not worry though, those that return from the grave usually do not look all the worse for it. In fact they usually look pretty damn good.

Lesson Three: Characters

The first episode of The Pretender featured three main characters. From then on it was a garage sale. If you accidentally miss out on one, don’t worry, they’re a dime a dozen.

Characters, the main.

Jarod: Stolen as a child, Jarod is the central figure in the Pretender. He is a Pretender; a genius with the ability to pick up any walk of life. He also has the ability to act like a complete dumb ass and will do so regularly. He is famous for his angst and woe is me speeches and hanging up on people (see why can’t anyone say goodbye?) he will also do this regularly. His main goal in the show is to find the family he was stolen from as a child (see Kyle, Emily, Clone, Major Charles and Margaret). Along the way he does general do-gooderness in some sort of weird attempt to pay penance for the atrocities he unknowingly committed as a Centre prisoner (see God can’t he just get over it?). He also tries to help Miss Parker, Sydney (and to a lesser extent Broots) with their personal lives. In other words: interfere.
Jarod is played by Michael T Weiss who just hurts so damn pretty.

Miss Parker: The main female character in The Pretender. Her father is Chairman of The Centre. Before her mother Catherine Parker didn’t die in an elevator Catherine was also an important Centre player. Miss Parker started off as a kick ass, takes no shit, chain-smoking, one line delivering goddess and by the final movie was angsting and woeing along with the best of them. We have a feeling Jarod is contagious. She had a brief relationship with Thomas Gates but that stopped owing to the fact he was killed by Bridgette which really does tend to damper a relationship. In the end of season two she learned she had a twin, in season three we learned it was Mr Lyle, we also learnt she had an adopted sister Faith who died. In season four we learned about her mother’s not-death, then pregnancy, then eventual death. This led to the introduction of Ethan ‘the sibling who should not have been’.
Miss Parker is played by gorgeous and talented Andrea Parker, who is now doing a stint on Less Than Perfect, presumably so she can eat. Young Miss Parker was played by Ashley Peldon.

Sydney: Jarod’s mentor and father figure at the Centre. He is supposedly a wonderful shrink, but also came up with the idea of Jarod not being capable of running away. He was a friend of Catherine Parker’s, seems to believe he had some sort hand in raising Miss Parker, and is the it’s-3-am-and-I’m-having-a-midlife-crisis guy. He spends most of his time trying to figure out the message Jarod has left ‘for him’ though this toned down in the later seasons as Miss Parker took on the belief that the universe ran around her instead. Sydney had a twin brother Jacob who didn’t die in season 1, but did die in season 2. He has a son Nicolas with ex co-worker Michelle. Thankfully they don’t appear much. Sydney is also for some inexplicable reason the go-to guy on all things Centre history related. He knows all the dirty secrets and is willing to share. When not being Centre sage, he likes to pretend he’s a bumbling idiot. Some believe Sydney is in fact evil (see ebil!).
Older Sydney and Jacob are played by Patrick Bauchau who I’ve since seen in a paper copying ad. Younger Sydney and younger Jacob are played by Alex Wexo.

Broots: Head geek. The geekiest of the geeks. The king geek. We love him for it. Broots’ main purpose on the show is to try to account for them always arriving five minute behind Jarod. He does so wonderfully, with a great repertoire of phone taps, links, searches and other means. He has an ex-wife, who is unnamed, and a daughter who jumps from the age of 3 to 10 in a season. Her name is Debbie. Broots is completely incapable of lying to anyone, strongly believes in his own self preservation and can actually grow a backbone if things turn life or death. Broots grew up in a motor home with at least one other sibling. He is one of the few characters in the entire show that doesn’t have his lineage questioned.
Broots is played by Jon Gries who has recently had a stint of minor roles in big movies. He has also shaved his head, and under some grime, actually looks pretty good.

Mr Lyle aka Bobby Bowman: twin brother to Miss Parker – we think. Mr Lyle appears in the second season, and from then on plays general Bad Guy. He does a brief dead man stint and then reappears in time to kill Jarod’s brother Kyle and disappear again. Thank you Lyle. In the second season Lyle lost this thumb after Jarod stole all his money from some Yakuza who didn’t find the joke funny. He got Mr Raines’ thumb attached in tP:2001 but gave it back as a gesture of good will. His form of character development was to become more evil. In the forth season we learnt about his trips to the wilderness where he likes to kill and bury young Asian girls and eat their body parts. He has a tattoo of a snake eating itself on his right forearm: the Cambodian symbol for cannibalism. Apparently he also has other tattoos, but Miss Parker foolishly declined checking them out. Oh and he also killed his best friend and then chopped off his head to avoid identification and blamed it on the step father that beat him and locked him in a shed. Yeah. Nice guy.
Mr Lyle is played by James Denton, and is one of those rare actors capable of making fangirls love them, even though they like human flesh.

Characters, the not quite minor

Angelo: also known as ‘that weird man in the air duct’ no I’m kidding. Though he does spend a lot of time in air ducts and eating candy. And he has a large collection of camera footage. Hmm… No, I’m still kidding. Angelo is an empathic savant. He has no emotions but those he feels around him, and thus he identifies people by obscure nicknames—
Jarod: friend
Miss Parker: daughter
Broots: Broots
Sydney: Sydney
Mr Lyle: the bogeyman
Mr Raines: Mr Raines

Angelo was formerly known as Timmy, but that was before Mr Raines stuck him in a big chair, electrocuted him and got a bit surprised when he turned out brain damaged. The Centre believes that Angelo has no value, so they occasionally feed him when they remember. He was introduced to try and help find Jarod, and he did, but like Broots he was a few minutes behind. Why they didn’t keep trying is beyond us, but that’s Pretender logic for you. In Bloodlines it was suggested that Angelo was Miss Parker’s twin brother; many people believe that he actually is.
Angelo is played by Paul Dillon who we all admire for that time he shaved his head.

Mr Parker: a.k.a., ‘daddy’. Mr Parker is the Chairman of the Centre. Though for all his orders that don’t go ahead, the vast amounts of information he doesn’t know, and the plots within plots he just to ignores, he’s pretty useless at it really. It was revealed in IotH (in another twist of Pretender logic) that he and Mr Raines were brothers, and to avoid the problem of deciding a chairman, they just decided that Mr Raines should be adopted out. Problems struck when Mr Parker wanted an heir -- he has a low sperm count you see. Yes, that’s too much information for anyone, we know. So naturally he sort of … stole Mr Raines’ … well his you knows, and had it implanted in his wife. Yeah. Not icky at all. In season three we were treated to the ickiest couple in history i.e. him and Bridgette. And lucky for us she had a kid in season four, just before she died. It’s a boy and they didn’t name it anything. So we call it Baby Parker. In Island of the Haunted Mr Parker took a swan dive out of the aeroplane with a parachute and leaving everyone to die. His current status is probably tanning on a white sandy beach.
Mr Parker is played by Harve Presnell. According to he has stared in Legally Blonde and Mr Deeds, which sadly makes him the coolest actor here. Hmm.

Mr Raines: Evil. It’s the only word to describe him. He is physically impossible to like; from the oxygen tank he wheels around with the squeeeaaakk as he moves, to the gasps and creepy hitting on Miss Parker; there are no redeeming features. He serves as the blame-all for Miss Parker; if a project messed up then Mr Raines did it. Simple as that. Also? He thinks he’s God.

And as Mr Wiggles, for just a little while, he was my God.

Mr Wiggles… I mean Mr Raines is played by Richard Marcus who should totally have a cage fight with The Cigarette Smoking Man.

Kyle: Jarod’s full brother. Introduced in season one, died in season one, re-died (which is a word invented for the show), in season two. Thankfully. This time we’re pretty sure he’s dead. He was raised by Mr Raines under the super cool idea of “what would happen if I warped a super genius and made him evil”. Yeah, put like that it doesn’t sound so smart, does it? He escaped The Centre and tried to find his family, but he did it in a new and interesting way: kidnapping those who he thought might know and torturing the info out of them. He’s like Jarod, only with balls or something. He has a scar on his hand from where Jarod hurt him with acid, lived in Sub Level 27 (see how fucking big is this place) with Angelo. Kyle’s most famous line was “I decide who lives or dies,” but it didn’t serve him very well when he jumped in front of a bullet meant for Jarod, delivered from Lyle’s gun, in what may just be the worst CGI bullet explosion thing ever.
Kyle was played by Jeffrey Donovan who had a good thing going on Touching Evil but performed the kiss of death by inviting Michael to guest star.

Catherine Parker: a.k.a. the lady that didn’t die in the elevator. Catherine Parker is mentioned from day one of The Pretender. Her death was the main influence in young Miss Parker’s life. For the first half of season one she committed suicide in an elevator (with three gunshots, and only one bullet hole). Then it was a murder. Then it was a murder committed by the man in a dark suit. Then it was a murder committed by Jarod’s father. Then it was a murder committed by Mr Raines. Then it was a murder committed by Mr Raines where the body disappeared. Then it was a fake murder, in the elevator, and Miss Parker’s father told her she had committed suicide but really Mr Raines had helped Catherine get out of the Centre because Mr Parker was plotting to kill her and Sydney was in on it but didn’t say anything to her in all those years because he ‘promised’ and then Catherine went to a house in the woods where she talked to rapidly-aging Jarod and gave birth to Ethan and then got finally shot in the head by Raines and her body cremated and ashes scattered. The end. When not involved in the most complicated death ever she visited a bed and breakfast belonging to ‘Ben’ exactly 9 months apart from Miss Parker’s birthday, oh and she adopted Faith (see The chick in the coffin), and apparently planned (in another leap of Pretender logic), an escape to England. Yeah. We know.
Catherine Parker is played by Miss Parker in a wig.

Bridgette: A cleaner, eventually assigned to the chase to help bring Jarod back. Before that she spent her time trying to murder Broots, Daddy Parker, Miss Parker, and sporting a very terrible British accent. Trying is the key work. Then in Season 3 for some strange reason she and Daddy Parker came together in a relationship that no one ever wanted to see. She became pregnant, goodness knows why, or how (we prefer to pretend…) and in season 4 was revealed as the killer of Thomas Gates (see hey! That isn’t Jarod in her bed!), gave birth, died, and was blown up. In that order. She is one of the few characters to remain dead.
Bridgett was played by Pamela Gidley who went on to have a date with Grissom. We think this is karma after having to play Mrs Parker.

Thomas a.k.a. hey! That isn’t Jarod in her bed! Thomas turned up in the third season, and in many people’s opinion lasted entirely too many episodes. He was a friend of Jarod’s and was set up to meet Miss Parker at a gas station. After some very lame flirting and some hints from Jarod that she’s getting old and fat she went to meet him on their first date. He successfully convinced her to leave for Oregon, rejected a blank check from Daddy Parker, didn’t get along all that well with the family, and died, not in that order. His death turned our beloved kick ass girl into a weepy, bitter, often annoying “my life is so hard” Miss Parker. Whether the trade off between new Miss Parker and that scene with the flannelette shirt is worth it remains unanswered.
Thomas was played by Jason Brooks and he was nice, so I hope he didn’t get too much hate mail.

Characters, the minor.

Emily: Jarod’s sister that he didn’t know he had. She turns up in the end of season 1 for a split second with Mom, again at the beginning of season 4, and the end of season 4 when Jarod finally finds her. It’s all very touching. Only not. Nothing is really known about Emily except that she had been searching for her family and gets called “Em.”
Emily is played by Marisa Petroro (Parker) and it’s actually the same girl in the first season, amazingly.

Major Charles: Jarod’s father. May or may not be Jarod’s biological father. It’s unclear. When Jarod finally meets him at the end of Season 3 there aren’t any questioned answered. Jarod gives up running away with his father and the boy (see tell me that isn’t a clone) and instead saves Miss Parker’s life. It’s all very touching, really. He reappears to save Zoë in the end of Season 4 and really doesn’t do much else.
Major Charles is played by George Lazenby who I learn did some Batman episodes. Cool.

Margaret: a.k.a. Mom. Jarod’s mother. The centre of his bloody universe. Everything revolves around him finding her. Not his family. Her. She has all of 12 lines in the entire show, but Jarod still carries her picture with him everywhere and tells everyone about her. And we do mean everywhere and everyone. Up to and including random people on public transport. Yes, Jarod is that guy on the bus who’s determined to tell his life story.
Margaret is played by Kim Myers who appears exactly the same amount of times as Young Sydney. This says a lot.

Ethan: The other brother. To get one final sibling take one part Major Charles, one part Catherine Parker, add writers smoking crack, stir. Taste. If a little bitter add one mental problem and one implausible creation. Bake at 100 degrees Fahrenheit until cooked all the way through.
Ethan serves no purpose in the show. He stands around and does nothing. Well … he nearly blows up trains, but that’s a whole different story. He has the “inner sense” (see suwper spewcial abilities) and if the show had a sense of humour, they’d use the quotation marks too. It basically means he can hear voices of people. It sounds more exciting than it is, really.
Ethan is played by Tyler Christopher. We’re sorry, Tyler, we know it’s not your fault your character is a tool.

Zoë a.k.a. the bitch who should die die die. Jarod’s girlfriend. Well, we think she’s his girlfriend. She’s lasted longer than any of his others, in that she seemed to get a second night. She is, strangely enough, not well liked. The general consensus is that she’s a bimbo with no brains and no personality. This is true. But she’s also hot, so we reserve judgement. She had a twin sister who died, and has/had cancer. She says it’s in remission but we don’t know if that was a lie.
Zoë is played by Lisa Cerasoli. Now you know the name of the girl you hate.

Faith a.k.a. the chick in the coffin. Miss Parker’s adopted sister. Catherine Parker adopted her when she heard that she was dying. Die she did. In front of Miss Parker, Jarod and Angelo; in a coffin for convenience. Miss Parker’s first “real girlfriend”. She returns in the third season to stand guardian over both Miss Parker and Jarod and help them through a near death experience. Yes our show has a creepy glowy dead girl too, so nyeh.
Faith was played by Caitlin Wachs who specialises in creepy floaty dead girl acting.

Jacob: Sydney’s twin brother. Jacob doesn’t do much; originally he was a device to show just how compassionate Jarod is, later he was a device to show Jarod a little more about his family. Pity they didn’t bother to ever expand on the whole “Gene” clue, and seeing as it would have been bloody easy to write “clone” it doesn’t look like that was the point either. He eventually died after coming out of a coma that lasted about thirty years and was buried in Sydney’s backyard. He tried to help Catherine Parker ‘rescue the children’ which is probably why he ended up in the coma. That’ll teach him for plotting in a place with more cameras than rats.
Jacob is played by Sydney in lots of make up.

Debbie: Broots’s daughter. She ages from about three to ten in the space of a season. Brilliant trick. She single-handedly gave birth to the idea that “Miss Parker must like kids because she didn’t gut and stuff Debbie and put her over her fire place.” In her spare time she gets her dad to take her to France.
Debbie is played by Kelsey Mulrooney.

Edna Raines: Mr Raines’ wife, the lucky gal. She appears in the fourth season after having been sedated for years under orders from her husband. See I told you Mr Raines was evil. She wakes up, thinks Miss Parker is Catherine, and tells her about Mirage (see Mirage? What kind of codename is that?) then she’s killed by her husband, who seems moderately cut up about it. Before that she worked in the Centre infirmary and took care of Little Miss Parker when she had the mumps. She had a daughter with Mr Raines who was called Annie who was killed at 16 by the Blue Moon Killer.
Edna was played by Barbara Babcock who probably wanders from show to show playing strange old lady. She does it so well.

Mr Cox a.k.a. the grim reaper. He appears in the beginning of season 4, as a “safety net” in the chase for Jarod. In the spirit of other Pretender characters like Mr Parker, he never did his supposed job either. Possibly realising this, the writers chose for him to receive a bit of expansion by having Broots and Miss Parker follow him around for a while. Through this we were treated to the sight of a man in a suit scraping road kill. His father was a mortician and apparently he is a doctor of some sort – or at least believes he can deliver babies. He cleaned up the mess after Bridgette’s birth by dousing her in petrol and planting a knife. Great guy.
Mr Cox is played by Lenny von Dohlen which sounds like he comes from Transylvania. So cool.

The Clone a.k.a. tell me that’s not a clone. Yes, we have a clone. A Jarod clone in fact. He appears in the end of season 3 and his code name was Gemini, but he only ever really got called ‘the boy’ which I’m sure is great for his self esteem. He was transferred to the Centre at the end of season 3; which is when Jarod caught a glance of him and had his theory of the world revolving around him confirmed. In an attempt to rescue ‘the boy’ Jarod’s father was captured, and then in an attempt to change his father for Miss Parker’s Jarod was captured. Apparently it’s either one or the other with this family. The boy hasn’t reappeared except for ‘the boy and I are safe’ and is still unnamed.
The boy is played by Ryan Merriman who also plays young Jarod. Just to make you feel old; Ryan recently got married.

Lesson Four: The Places

Three lessons down. Is your brain feeling like its underwater? Not yet? Just wait until you get to the Fandom part. Then we’ll see. Anyway, here are the places that you will visit most often while here. There are others but they’re not important enough to warrant a description, that and “yet another run down hole of a motel” doesn’t do it for anyone except Jarod.

The Centre: The middle of everyone’s universe. The Centre has ties to everyone and everything; no matter what or who. Located in 431 Mountain Spring Rd, Blue Cove, Delaware, it advertises itself as a ‘think tank’ to its neighbours. It has its own jets, runways, helicopter pads and is divided in three parts, each capable of keeping its occupants safe from a nuclear attack. Gosh, I wonder why anyone would want to hurt them. The building itself has three parts. The Tower: where all the faceless, nameless, too-important-for-you bosses work. The only way you visit is in the Tower Elevator which has no buttons and only goes one way. The main building: presumably where they keep those few people not involved in super secrets. And the sublevels: where most of the action happens.

Up until Jarod decided to calculate the amount of dirt needed per sublevel (yes, we know he needs a hobby, we’ll pass your comments along), it was believed there were 26 Sublevels. Then it was revealed there are 27 (see nice place you’ve, erm, got here…) and if the third movie came along the number would probably grow to 30 or something.
The Centre is played by a sewage treatment company and various sets that get stranger and creepier as the show goes on. For more information see her agent.

Sub level 27 (nice place you’ve, erm, got here…), Mr Raines’ private sub level where he did all of his experiments back when they let him be called Dr Raines. Kyle was raised there, Timmy had himself done sunny-side-up there, Miss Parker and her twin were born there, and numerous other children were experimented on until a fire gutted it and questions started to be asked. In season 2 Mr Raines had a mid deathbed crisis and decided to relive his glory days by fixing up the old joint. Sydney didn’t really approve of this and planted a bomb and with typical Pretender Land logic, put a twelve hour timer on it. Twelve hours later Jarod and Miss Parker had decided to take their little games down there, and Mr Raines, daddy, and some sweepers crashed their party. Sydney arrived to say “Bomb!” just as the big yellow ball of fire came at them.

Everyone survived except for Gar, who wasn’t even there at the time.

I guess the moral of the story is not to be Gar.

The Renewal Wing: (you don’t come out with a facial). If the Centre wants you to disappear you end up here first. No idea why. It serves as a brainwashing Centre, health spa, and hospital. Sometimes all at once. Being sent here isn’t good for your life. Unless you are Sydney and immune.

NuGenesis (“Mommy, where do babies come from?” “Test tubes, Johnny, or the dark corridor. Now eat your peas.”) Located in Atlanta, Georgia it was started by two brothers in the 1950s. In the beginning it was a nice place; the two brothers wanted to help people find their families through their knowledge and gifts. But whatever the intention they teamed up with The Centre teamed to search of candidates for the Pretender project. Jarod was either created or adopted from there. (When he finally did find his family he did not, as other would have, roll out a list of questions and sit everyone down. Genius.) Either way, Jarod came back to have the ‘ouch’ test done and solved the square route of some number longer than your arm. A little while later he was abducted.

Jarod ended up back there in the second season posing as Jarod Spock and saved Davie Simpkins from ending up like Angelo.

The Dragon House: Located at Delphi Shores, New Jersey the ‘Dragon House’ was a place that Dr Raines would bring Kyle when he was a child. No, we have no idea why he took him out of State, maybe there were no suitably ‘Dragon’ like houses in Delaware. Anyway, it’s a Centre safe house and was used by Kyle when he kidnapped Harriet Tashman and was where he was caught by Miss Parker.

Raines’s Woodland House Of Fun: Mr Raines’s summer house. He takes Catherine Parker there when she’s pregnant with Ethan. For our convenience he has the whole place wired with cameras and then downloads it all onto almost-fire-proof DSAs. Jarod visits her there, gets explained about the Inner Sense, and has his memory wiped. A while after Catherine Parker gives birth there and is finally, finally really dead.

Ben Miller’s Bed And Breakfast (recognised by people around the world as a place the Centre would never, ever think to look and so is therefore a perfect place for a wedding. Or three. Whatever.) Owned, surprisingly, by Ben. Miss Parker was sent there in the first and second seasons by Jarod, because dammit, if he’s going to be confused about his family then so should she. And so she was. The visits yielded that her mother had been trying to save the children, and that she always visited him in April every year. A jewellery box Jarod sent her revealed a picture of Catherine Parker and Ben holding her. Doing a bit of pregnancy maths (which is something every woman can do, regardless of her mathematical abilities); Miss Parker discovered that her birthday is exactly 9 months after the annual visit.

Lesson Four: Quirks

Now you know the plot, characters and places. It’s now time to gaze into that stupid looking abyss we shall call the quirks. (Incredibly stupid leaps in not-logic doesn’t really have the same effect.)

To avoid too much confusion while wandering through the rest of Pretender Land these are the little things that are unique to the Pretender, or just so daft they need an explanation.

DSA’s: Stands for Digital Simulation Archive. They’re small round discs which now look just like mini-discs, but in 1994 this was future tech. The Centre has always been on the cutting edge. So cutting that they can make a stationary camera zoom and swivel nearly 360 degrees. Jarod’s entire life is recorded on them and Jarod often likes to get some popcorn and candy and play one while thinking of the good old days.

Ebil! The Pretender doesn’t do anything by halves. If you’re evil then you’re so evil you torture kittens for shit and giggles and fry up small children. In fact you’re so evil you get levelled up to ‘ebil!’ If you’re good then you’re crusading for the little guy. If for some reason you’re a fence sitter you have to stay really still while every side including your own tries to hit you one way or the other.

God why can’t he just get over it?: Because then we wouldn’t have a show. If Jarod shrugged his shoulders and said "shit happens, in hindsight saying things like 'The building is perfect unless you hit it here' wasn’t smart. Oh well. Let’s go find my family" the series would be very, very short. And kind of logical. We can’t have that. Also, it’s an easy and cheap way to make Jarod angst. Jarod looking too happy? Just have some long lost Centre employee sell his twisted plan for world peace to terrorists and add tears for instant-angst!

Mirage? What kind of code name is that? How dare you. It’s deep, meaningful and refers to the whole secret plot to impregnate Catherine Parker and then Mr Raines’s kidnapping of her. Yeah, okay, so the writers can’t plot or do code names. But if you think Mirage is daft, you should try reading fan fic.

The flashbacks: The Pretender: More flashbacks per square inch than any other show. Why? Well because the powers that be think we’re morons. They feel the need to remind us of things that happened a minute ago in case we have forgotten, or didn’t get that it was a plot point. If you’re talking about the three or four shots of the same thing over and over again (like Raines going boom), then it’s artistic and you just wouldn’t understand.

That and sometimes the camera men got into the writer's stash.

The scrolls: When The Pretender was cancelled the writers threw away what little notes on the plot they had that weren’t used to roll up and smoke things. Then when they came down from their little … trip, they realised they had a deadline due for the movies. Hence, the scrolls. That and they think it’s all mystical and it made The Pretender ‘sci fi drama’ or some rot. Just imagine it was porn written in 15th Century spelling and the whole thing becomes much more logical and funny.

Thee cock shalle risee and thee paccee quickenith. As thee come they shall sayteh, “Jarod.”

The siblings AHHHH OH GOD THERE’S ANOTHER ONE! THEY’RE COMING IN FROM ALL SIDES! WE CANNOT GET OUT! WE CANNOT GET OUT!: We think there’s this theory on How To Make A Great Television Show, first you add 1 attractive female character, then an attractive male character. Mix in a hell of a lot of unresolved sexual tension and bake with one Stupid Reason They Cannot Be Together, and every once in a while, add a sibling.

Other shows that have followed this formula are Alias and Dark Angel.

If you’re confused about why this happens, see the Simpsons episode about Poochie. All your questions and more will be answered.

Why doesn’t anyone say goodbye: Phone manners happen to other shows. In The Pretender it is perfectly acceptable to greet people with “what?” and to just hang up when you’ve finished. It seems to be catching because characters that were friendly in the first season like Sydney learn to hang up on people by the third. Why? No idea. More ‘dramatic’ probably.

Why the dead don’t stay dead: People in the Pretender don’t actually die; they just appear to. Here is a small guide for people considering following in our favourite characters footsteps (obligatory do not fake your death as it would be really sad to your parents your partner your cat whoever you’ve found to like you: do not fake your death.)

Advantages: Big, red, fiery. People don’t go close in case more stuff blows up and will accept without question that your body has all but disappeared.

Bonus: no need to gather blood or body bits or someone your size.

Problems: always slightly risky, smart people might wonder why no body, the risk of exploding debris hitting nearby people.

Suggestions: saying something noble before explosions. People think it’s more real this way.

Going out to the woods:
Advantages: miles and miles of space for people to not find you in.

Bonus: you can kill two birds with one stone by bringing someone you dislike with you.

Problems: requires lots of walking. And a forest/woods/thing. Also have to carry the murder weapon, whatever that might be.

Suggestions: taking long walks for a period of time before your disappearance, that way it won’t be uncharacteristic. Blaming it on abusive foster-father is also good.

Gun shot:
Advantages: Loud, bloody, can be done anywhere, requires no special set up, possible to pretend you’ve been shot when haven’t.

Bonus: if done correctly you can fake your death and come out of it with a cool scar.

Problems: very easy to get wrong if performed at close range. Also depends on type of gun, ammunition, and how good of a shot the person is.

Suggestions: blanks in the gun, bullet proof vests, and a big vat of water for your body to conveniently fall into (we suggest you only try the last part if you can swim.)

Falling into big things of water or whatever:
Advantages: people don’t want to go and investigate the now-human-soup for your body.

Bonus: none we can think of.

Problems: hitting water hurts unless done correctly and people won’t believe you’re alive if you do a 10.0 swan dive.

Suggestions: don’t try it.

Advantages: you get to pick the method, guarantee of success, can be done almost anywhere (including elevators).

Bonus: people will talk of you in hushed voices and not question your death for a very long time.

Problems: depends on your method. Watch out for inconsistencies like one bullet wound to three gun shots. Also, avoid camera laden areas.

Suggestions: don’t do it in front of your 12 year old child. Or any age child for that matter.

Don’t try any of these methods if you’re a minor character or involved with Jarod or Miss Parker. If you’re Lyle then feel free to try them all at once.

Lesson Five: Supwer spwecial abilities

You’ve seen the sights; you’ve learnt the … special parts now it’s time to make fun of it. No, you may not join in. You’re new. You don’t appreciate our dead show enough to mock it yet. Now we shall learn the reasons that Jarod can believe the world revolves around him, Angelo all but drools, and Miss Parker is ‘gifted’.

This is one of the things that makes The Pretender special, so there’s a few things you should know. Firstly, they’re gifts. That’s important. It doesn’t matter if your gift gets you kidnapped by a secret organisation for 30 years, or drives you slowly mad, or tells you your own death, wait… that happens… Anyway, it’s still a gift. Secondly, no matter how absurd it appears other characters will accept it without question. Or questions. Not once in the whole show does someone go ‘yah-huh, surrree’ at a new discovery.

Gifts come in different types:

Empathic: feels the emotions of other people. This is Not A Good Thing™ because it means that the empaths have no emotions of their own. Well, they don’t when they’ve been crispy fried.

Inner-sense: Not to be confused with schizophrenia and any other sort of mental disorder where you hear voices. This is a gift (see, I told you that was important.) As you can guess the sufferer gifted one hears voices of the … well probably dead. Catherine Parker had it and gave it to her daughter (and possibly her son, we’re not sure), but she seemed to think it was a good thing. Even when it told her she wouldn’t be making it out from Raines’s Woodland House of Fun. From what Ethan says we think they talk all the time and tell him to do horrible things like blow up buildings. As much as you might think this is Not A Good Thing™ Mr Raines seemed to think it was, and purposefully bred Ethan. We still maintain it’s Not A Good Thing™.

Pretenders: Can become anyone they want to be, put themselves into any walk of life. Cannot, however, put themselves in the minds of their loved ones and figure out where they are. Are frequently hunted down and dragged back to The Centre for more torture, abuse and exploitation. They don’t have to be crispy fried to become Pretenders, it’s a natural ability brought about by some sort of genetics except in some cases not mentioned here. They are also genetically prone to whining.

Twin-connections: the supposed bond between twins which means they can feel each others pain when they are close enough. Only exists so the writers can compare it with Miss Parker and Lyle’s relationship and think to themselves, yes, this time we’ve definitely got irony.

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