REVIEW POSTED JUNE 11, 2005

Pilot Episode Review: Global Frequency
Written by Craig Byrne

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"There are rumors of a conspiracy called the Global Frequency. A group of spies, experts, and ordinary people... They save us from threats that no one else sees or understands. The Global Frequency is real."

So starts the pilot episode of television's Global Frequency, which finally leaked its way onto the Net after being completed for nearly 8 months. The pilot was filmed for the WB Network last summer, but a change in regime caused the network to pass on their plans for a midseason airing.

So, what's the verdict? A casting choice or two aside, the pilot is VERY true to the vision of Warren Ellis in the graphic novel series published by DC/Wildstorm. Michelle Forbes proves herself to have perfectly embodied Miranda Zero in a way that fits; like Christopher Reeve as Superman, Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman, or Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, she is everything you'd expect from the mysterious leader and founder of the Global Frequency.

Certain little touches such as chyrons in a font that matches the comic's logo also made the pilot a nice example. I don't know if the music in the leaked pilot was temporary, but it fit the action and the mood very well. The Global Frequency phones with the familiar logo did appear and looked great.

The effects, featuring a man who was a walking bomb, again, just like something you'd see/read on the printed page, were also top-notch, and gave Global Frequency an X-Files element that I wish we had seen more of.

The direction by Nelson McCormick (Alias) was very good in some scenes, although there were some choices in the acting I may not have been fond of (more on that later). I also felt some shots were done so up-close that I couldn't really see the action that was going on around them.

The script by John Rogers, however, was flawless, and had the kind of lines and banter that make for a good television show. I'm not sure, though, how some of these things connected with the cast, which is where I start to get critical.

I am no network executive, and I have no idea about casting. I get the impression that Warren Ellis himself liked the actors who were cast in the program, so, really, defer to the master, but I'm just going to go into it with how I am as a viewer. There were several who just didn't work for me. If the Global Frequency pilot/project isn't dead, of course some of these things would have to change as some of the actors have moved on anyway. So, here I go into the realm that may piss off some people who worked on the program....

Guess we'll start with the two new characters, Sean and Dr. Finch. Great characters, again, wonderful on the printed page. But also both very, very different in their approach and portrayals on the screen.

I imagine Dr. Finch was supposed to be the Dana Scully of this new generation. The problem, however, is that Jenni Baird in the role suffers from that "hot girl in glasses and a ponytail" syndrome. While her "hotness" is seen later in the episode once she gets wet and lets her hair down, I don't really know that she'd catch on in the same way Gillian Anderson did. It's almost like she's too conventional, yet at the same time, not conventional enough. It may be something with her look, or with her performance, but she seemed a bit too dry and didn't have the kind of chemistry I expected with Sean.

Sean Flynn (formerly referred to as "Sean Ronin") as played by Josh Hopkins had a different reaction. I really got that "actor in an independent film" feel from him; like he's trying too hard to sound grizzled or bad ass. Clint Eastwood he's not. I thought the actor could be found to be appealing to the viewer, but something about the way the character was portrayed felt unnatural. Yes, it's all based on a comic book here, but the best performers on TV (think Ron Rifkin on Alias) take the campy and cheesy stuff and *make it work.*

That was my ONLY complaint with the otherwise-flawless Michelle Forbes as Miranda. It's a role that was perfect for her. Though there's one scene or two (like when she's about to break in to a facility to speak with someone who may know the key to Bomb Man's affliction) where she just becomes camp. It's the problem Birds of Prey had at times - where it seems like the actor knows they're reading something out of a comic book, and it just doesn't work.

Finally, from comics to film land, there's Aleph, played by Aimee Garcia. Aimee impressed me with her knowledge of various languages and such, but I'll admit - I REALLY wanted a punky British girl. Aleph didn't scream "bad ass" to me at all here; in fact, she was the only reminder that this was intended for the teenage WB audience. Even worse, she seemed shoehorned in and translated more like - sorry for another Birds of Prey reference here - Rachel Skarsten as Dinah in Birds of Prey. A young person for the audience to "connect" to, but really not having chemistry with anyone else. I'd have LOVED to have seen Michelle Forbes' Miranda Zero sparring with and bossing around someone with a little more bite. But really, Aleph's scenes of calling people on the Global Frequency looked and felt like something out of Birds, and we know how that turned out. I will give Garcia points for the multi-lingual stuff, though, and I will have to say she did approach the role very enthusiastically and well - she just wasn't the Aleph I love.

The pilot has some terrific moments. There's a scene where Miranda tells someone to get the secretary of defense on the line, and she says "Tell him I know what happened in Tecumseh, Idaho." Miranda gets her way and gets what the wants, and I would have loved to have seen more scenes like that one. The show works its best when the character of Miranda Zero is doing her thing, and I know, with perhaps a differently-cast Sean and Kate with a better chemistry between the actors, those characters would have been a lot more fun too.

I really liked when random members were called in to the Frequency, such as a gymnast who helps Sean and Kate save the day. Those characters give the show a diversity and a really open format that I think really spiced things up a bit.

I'd still like to see Global Frequency as a regular series, and I hope that the project is not 100% dead. I think a Sean and a Kate with a better banter would've lightened things up a bit, and the sci-fi element could possibly break the show away from being one of those standard 24/Alias/The Inside types of shows. It's a great adaptation of the comic book page, which is a plus, but if it were a bit more perfect, with the right promotion, it could have been a hit. It certainly was better than The Mountain or a show of that vein that the WB actually did air, although it might be better suited for FX or some kind of cable channel. One thing is for sure though, if the Frequency ever does hit the air, I hope Michelle Forbes is present for it and that some of the same writers who were originally scheduled to write for the show will still be around. And, of course, I'd hope for some conspiracy and intrigue within the Global Frequency, because the pilot rarely got a chance to touch upon that. Fans of the graphic novel series would not be disappointed, and hopefully the pilot will someday legally see the light of day, be it at a Comic-Con screening, a DVD release, or a one-shot airing on a TV network.

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Michelle Forbes as Miranda Zero
Credits: Star Trek: The Next Generation, Homicide: Life on the Street

Aimee Garcia as Aleph
Credits: All About The Andersons, Greetings From Tuscon

Josh Hopkins as Sean Flynn
Credits: Ally McBeal, North Shore, Jack and Jill, Cold Case

Jenni Baird as Kate Finch
Credits: All Saints, Crash Palace, Metropolis

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