SF Obscure: The Visitor

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The Visitor was a 1997-1998 series starring John Corbett. If you don’t know the series, you probably know John Corbett from lots of dramas, particularly if you’re of a certain generation. (Northern Exposure, Sex in the City, My Big Fat Greek Wedding). The Visitor lasted one season for 13 episodes. ( I have seen it listed as two seasons-unsure of how it was broadcast.)

Anyway, John Corbett stars as Adam McAuthur, a WWI pilot who went missing in the Bermuda Triangle. It turns out he was abducted by aliens and returns 50 years later. Adam hasn’t ages and now possesses special powers. Anyhow, Adam has been returned to Earth as a part of a mission to save humanities future. It’s premise is similar to the 4400.

In the pilot, The Visitor is similar to 4400’s human drama themes. The Alien ship crashes and Adam is on the run. He’s helped by a single mom and her son whom become attached to him as he reintegrates to the modern world. Adam uses his special powers and tells us all about how aliens want humans to reach our full potential; love one another; we’re all connected etc etc.¬† (It reminded me of the 1982 series The Phoenix, with Judson Scott. Anyone else remember that?)

The next episodes become more focused on a larger mission for Adam to seek out special people who will influence history to some mysterious end. It’s still feel good, but with a wider focus. It morphs yet again as a parallel plot line of ramps up with Adam pursued by government agencies. This is full on X-Files copy with hidden conspiracies; nefarious secret groups meeting in hushed voices and casting long shadows in vaulted rooms; classified documents stumbled upon and dossiers tossed importantly across desks; and, of course, black helicopters.

I liked the individual episodes well enough but I did feel as if the series couldn’t decide what kind of show it wanted to be. Family drama SF light? Conspiracy action show? A bit of both? There was a really neat Halloween/ War of the Worlds episode. Even though I was reasonably entertained by the episodes, I understood why it was cancelled. I don’t think all series need a story arc- but I do feel, especially in SF, series need a distinctive style or focus. The Visitor didn’t quite get there for me.

5 thoughts on “SF Obscure: The Visitor”

  1. At first I didn’t think I had seen this. I am a John Corbett fan and I didn’t remember him starring in his own series. Then you started to describe the first show. Oh yeah! I remember now. Okay show but, sadly, not very memorable. Not like Northern Exposure or My Big Fat Greek Wedding – both of which I have in my personal video library – or Sex in the City which I enjoy watching when I can find it. Guess not everything can be a hit.

    Where did you find this? Talk about obscure! Thank you for the memories.

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    1. I stumbled across it on YouTube looking for something else entirely. Crazy. As I watched I realized I had seen it…and forgotten it.

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  2. I remember this one. I watched all the episodes and was bummed when it didn’t make the cut for subsequent seasons. Like you I did feel it never quite came together. Its purpose sort of shifted mid-season and probably was the cause for non-renewal? It started out New-Age-y and ended “The Fugitive Meets E. T.” All in all, I try to give anything remotely sci-fi a chance.

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  3. I remember that show, at the time it reminded me a lot of John Carpenter’s Starman and it’s sequel TV series, I know that I made a point of watching it at the time but I can’t remember all that much about the show now, I guess I liked it because I kept watching it, I might track down an episode or two and rewatch them sometime.

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