Persons Unknown (TV series)
|Created by||Christopher McQuarrie|
Kate Lang Johnson
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||13 (list of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||Christopher McQuarrie
Erendira de la Lama
|Location(s)||Mexico City, Mexico|
|Running time||42 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Fox Television Studios
Televisa S.A. de C.V.
|Original release||June 7 – August 28, 2010|
Persons Unknown is an American mystery drama television series that aired during the summer of 2010. The show revolved around strangers who are imprisoned inside a small ghost town. The thirteen-episode summer series premiered on June 7, 2010 at 10:00 p.m. on NBC. On June 30, NBC moved the show to 8:00 p.m. on Saturday from its Monday time slot. It completed its run on August 28, 2010.
Diverse strangers find themselves stranded in a deserted town with no idea of how they got there. Security cameras are watching their every move, defeating their attempts to leave. Faced with physical, emotional and psychological challenges, the hostages must rely on each other to survive as their abductors sow mistrust and pit them against each other. Meanwhile, an investigative reporter begins to look into the disappearances of the missing people despite intimidation by those who apparently know their every move.
Executive producer Remi Aubuchon promised that the show would “provide all the answers to the questions that we set up”. The series finale was criticized for not following through on this statement.
Seven strangers, Janet Cooper (Daisy Betts), Joe Tucker (Jason Wiles), Moira Doherty (Tina Holmes), Sergeant Graham McNair (Chadwick Boseman), Tori Fairchild (Kate Lang Johnson), Bill Blackham (Sean O'Bryan), and Charlie Morse (Alan Ruck) awaken in a hotel, with little to no knowledge of how they got there or where they are. The hotel and small 1950's-era town nearby are completely filled with cameras and microphones. Over the course of the following weeks, they are subjected to significant psychological and physical stress. Joe is eventually revealed to be a member of "The Program." Who or what the program is, what their motives, resources, or support are, is unclear. The only indication is that the Program is manipulating them, attempting to influence their behavior, thought patterns, and beliefs.
At the end of the show, despite staging a mass breakout by faking the deaths of everyone in the town except for Joe, all the participants are recaptured, and awaken in an identical hotel, built into the hull of a container ship, where the original night manager welcomes them to "Level 2." Joe and Mark Renbe are seen waking in a second hotel, in which Tori Fairchild serves as the hotel manager. Kat Damatto and Ambassador Fairchild are last seen in cages at an undisclosed location.
- Joe Tucker (Jason Wiles), according to NBC.com, is the official leader of the group and is forceful and direct. He also knows military hand signals. Although he prefers to keep his personal life to himself, and never reveals what his occupation is or why he might have been taken, he claimed that he was in New York when he was abducted. Joe is also competing with Ericka for the heart of Janet. He claims to be deathly allergic to bee stings. Later in the series, it was revealed that Joe was a Roman Catholic priest before he was part of the Program.
- Janet Cooper (Daisy Betts) is a day-care owner from San Francisco. She is a single mother to a five-year-old girl, Megan Cooper. She was once married. However, her husband left in the middle of the night, abandoning his daughter and wife. Janet has a strained relationship with her mother whom she claims was abusive. Janet has hired investigators to find her husband.
- Sergeant Graham McNair (Chadwick Boseman) is a level-headed Marine. He is a devout Muslim at the beginning of the series, stating that he became devout due to the treatment of prisoners at a government facility that housed alleged terrorists. He also worked as a mercenary at one time with tragic results.
- Moira Doherty (Tina Holmes) was a mental patient at St. Mary's Hospital in Sandusky, Ohio. Moira is the most peaceful and kindly of the abducted people, but has a darker past. It is implied that she is a habitual liar. She serves as the doctor of the group.
- Tori Fairchild (Kate Lang Johnson) is a wealthy socialite. Her father is the American ambassador to Italy and former head of the CIA. The NBC website described her as "privileged, pragmatic, and manipulative". She woke up in the hotel having no knowledge of where she was because she thought she "partied too much". She believes her father has sent her to the location to punish her for tarnishing his political image. She intimates that he exchanged promises of her sexual favors to important political figures.
- Erika Taylor (Kandyse McClure), according to NBC.com, is a tough as nails ex-con who sees everyone as her enemy even her fellow abductees. Erika has an eleven-year-old son named Anton and reveals that before arriving she was executed at the prison in which she was confined.
- Bill Blackham (Sean O'Bryan), according to NBC.com, is a slick opportunist whose first priority is himself. Blackham describes himself as a used-car salesman, and stated that the last thing he remembers before finding himself in the hotel was being pulled over by the police in a traffic stop. He is very mistrustful of those around him, but the other abductees are dismissive of him.
- Charlie Morse (Alan Ruck) is the CEO of a very successful investment firm. He is married and states that his wife is mentally unstable and emotionally, if not physically, dependent on him. According to NBC.com, he is "a fierce fighter who doesn't take kindly to being intimidated or threatened."
- Mark Renbe (Gerald Kyd) is a journalist in San Francisco who is always on the lookout for scandal. He investigates the bizarre disappearance of his ex-wife Janet Cooper despite his boss believing that there is no story there.
- Kat Damatto (Lola Glaudini) is "a smart, sexy and hard-nosed editor at a muck-raking tabloid" in San Francisco. She is Mark Renbe's boss and lover. She is also fluent in Italian and Spanish.
- The Night Manager (Andy Greenfield) is the sole employee of the hotel in which the abductees awake. He first appears in their first evening in town. He represents himself as another pawn in the abductions but is later revealed to be part of the Program.
- Sam Edick (Michael Harney) is introduced as a private detective Janet Cooper hired to find her missing husband.
- Tom X (Reggie Lee) is introduced as the head of the staff at the Chinese restaurant in the town.
- Robert Gomez (Carlos Lacamara) is a police detective who continually communicates with Mark.
- Liam Ulrich (Alan Smyth) is the second-in command of "The Program". He first appears in Episode 8, "Saved".
- Ambassador Franklin Fairchild (James Read) has been a member of the program for 30 years. He is Tori Fairchild's father. Tori believes he is guilty of her mother's death. He appeared in six episodes.
- Helen (Joanna Lipari) has been the director of the program for 25 years. She has a twin sister, the deranged, Angela Barragan, that is visited by Kat and Mark to learn more information about the program
|No.||Title||Directed by||Written by||Original air date||Production
|1||"Pilot"||Michael Rymer||Christopher McQuarrie||June 7, 2010||4002-08-101||4.29|
|A diverse group of seven strangers find themselves stranded in a deserted town with no idea how they got there. They are being watched by security cameras and find their first attempt to escape is effectively blocked. When the group has dinner at the Chinese restaurant, one of the residents finds an ominous message in a fortune cookie. Meanwhile in San Francisco, Renbe, a reporter, searches for clues on one of the missing women.|
|2||"The Edge"||Bill Eagles||Remi Aubuchon||June 14, 2010||4002-08-102||3.45|
|Moira removes the implants they believe prevent them from escaping. However they encounter another barrier keeping them in the town. The abductees split up to investigate the town, looking for anything to help them escape. Blackham and Morse join together to execute their own plan to escape the town. Meanwhile, Renbe's investigation into Janet's disappearance hits a dead end.|
|3||"The Way Through"||Bill Eagles||Sandy Isaac||June 21, 2010||4002-08-103||3.43|
|After spending a week attempting to dig a tunnel to escape the town, the abductees are blocked by a metal barrier which releases a poison gas. A helicopter hovers overhead and drops a box, in which they find three gas masks for the seven of them to use -- putting them all in fear of a gas attack. Various abductees are submitted to psychological warfare, which includes Blackham receiving information about Morse's relationship with his wife. Back in San Francisco, Renbe resumes his investigation into Janet's disappearance, bringing him into direct conflict with the private investigator, Edicks.|
|4||"Exit One"||Leon Ichaso||Michael R. Perry||June 28, 2010||4002-08-104||2.90|
|The group of abductees are rattled when the hotel's night manager informs them that someone will be "checking out". A taxi arrives later that day with instructions to pick up Janet and the guest of her choice; Janet selects Joe. Tori, convinced her father is responsible for her presence in the town, is devastated that the taxi was not sent for her and tries to find a way out -- which includes seducing the Night Manager. Meanwhile, Bill Blackham badgers Charlie Morse with his knowledge of Morse's secret, attempting to extort favors or money from Morse. The taxi gets a flat tire, then is destroyed by a truck. Janet and Joe, begin walking across the deserted countryside, taking shelter in a cabin when night falls -- which has some unpleasant occupants. Managing to safely leave the cabin, they continue wandering, only to end up back at the town. After their return, another taxi arrives for Tori.|
|5||"Incoming"||Jonathan Frakes||Linda McGibney||July 5, 2010||4002-08-105||2.96|
|The abductees are wondering where Tori has gone. Just as they are about to look around the town, they encounter an unconscious woman, named Erika, wearing Tori's clothes. She wakes up and attacks the others. While shopping for clothes, Moira sees a news report on television that says that Tori is safe with her father in Italy. Tori is actually dead and her father is trying to find out who is responsible. Later, while locked in a bank vault, Janet and Erika bond, talking about their lives and how they both happen to be mothers. McNair is haunted by his past and Moira becomes suspicious of Joe's behavior.|
|6||"The Truth"||Steve Shill||Sandy Isaac||July 17, 2010||4002-08-106||1.69|
|The abductees become suspicious of Joe due to the elevator's floor number not changing when he boards it by himself. He later doubles over in pain, and has apparently been poisoned. Erika suggests antifreeze as a poison matching the symptoms, and offers him vodka which would neutralize the antifreeze, but not until he admits to working with the kidnappers, which he does. Tom, another member of "The Program" is then seen watching the cameras, wondering aloud what they are now going to do with Joe, and then seeing Erika pouring antifreeze down the drain. Meanwhile, Mark and Kat are taken to Italy and attend Tori's funeral, surviving four near-death experiences in the process, and find that a Chinese restaurant is somehow related in the kidnappings.|
|7||"Smoke and Steel"||Rod Hardy||Michael R. Perry||July 24, 2010||4002-08-107||2.09|
|Joe confesses what he knows about the kidnappers and their organization to the others. But the information that he gives them are half-truths with other abductees frequently questioning his words, with Janet really being the only one that trusts him. Charlie tries to make a deal with Joe to get out of the town, but fails. Janet and Erika find personal files about them in Joe's room, but soon after, they learn that Tom was the one that planted the files there. After a small confrontation between Tom and Joe, Tom loses his edge and points a gun at Joe. Janet comes to save him, throwing oil on Tom, who is then engulfed in flames, dying as a result. Meanwhile, Kat, Renbe, and Stefano believe that Joe is the key to finding both Tori and Janet.|
|8||"Saved"||Bill Eagles||Linda McGibney||July 31, 2010||4002-08-108||1.60|
|After being taken from his room, Joe awakens to find himself in a room with wires attached to him, slipping in and out of consciousness. He flashes back to his past when he was once a priest before being captured by "The Program". Tori, who was believed to be dead, seems to be alive, nursing Joe and trying to convince him not to jeopardize "The Program" for his love of Janet. Meanwhile, Blackham feels left out by the others and talks directly to the cameras about wanting to leave. Moira has a hard time accepting McNair's dark past and begins to trust him less. Meanwhile, Kat and Renbe meet a delusional woman, the only person who escaped the program, who also was its director once.|
|9||"Static"||Michael Offer||Henry Robles||August 7, 2010||4002-08-109||1.26|
|After reprogramming, Joe reappears in town, but claims not to recognize anyone. It is soon discovered that he becomes extremely aggressive by anyone's touch, resulting in everyone but Janet wanting him eliminated and the Night Manager's death. Meanwhile, Kat and Renbe find themselves down and out in South America, eventually stumbling upon a familiar town.|
|10||"Identity"[†]||Jonathan Frakes||Sandy Isaac||August 21, 2010||4002-08-110||1.30|
|Irishman Liam Ulrich replaces the fallen Night Manager and tells the abductees that they must stay in second floor due to security purposes. To keep them at ease, Ulrich leaves a little memento in their hotel rooms. Because of the mementos, Moira and McNair look back at their troubled childhoods, Charlie reads about his business life from a newspaper and Joe is given the old bible he had when he was a priest. Is also revealed that Erika's real name is Theresa Randolph. Meanwhile, Kat and Renbe are in what is believed to be a duplicate town created by "The Program" and see the men in the blue suits moving dead bodies to the bank vault. All the bodies have severed thumbs, they are then startled by Stefano, who severed the thumbs himself to identify the bodies. As the episode ends, The madame director warns Ulrich not to be romantically involved with Janet, when he has already started giving her better treatment than the other abductees.|
|11||"Seven Sacrifices"[‡]||Tim Matheson||Michael R. Perry||August 21, 2010(NBC.com)||4002-08-111||N/A|
|Ulrich begins to have the trust of Charlie, Blackham and most importantly Janet. Ulrich's love for Janet, makes him give her a backstory on his life before being in "The Program", as well as giving her information on how "The Program" works. Janet begins to indulge in Ulrich's advances even though Joe and Erika give her warnings to stay away. Meanwhile, Renbe is sent to jail for the murder of Janet. Kat is fired from her job, evicted from her apartment and her bank accounts and credit cards are frozen due to misunderstanding about her dealing drugs overseas. It is revealed that the old night manager survived his injuries from Joe and is now working with the madame director. She has made the decision to terminate everyone in the town, including Ulrich.|
|12||"And Then There Was One"[†]||Jonathan Frakes||Linda McGibney||August 28, 2010||4002-08-112||2.97|
|The abductees find six body bags in the bank vault. They also do the math; and realize that six of them are going to die. Joe explains that they will kill each other off. Ulrich is later killed off after trying to assist them to escape. Meanwhile, Renbe and Kat trace "The Program" to the Mansfield Institute, officially a scientific, educational, and charitable nonprofit group. When they travel to the Manfield Institute's headquarters and make a commotion, the madame director notes that no one has gotten so close to them before. Back in the town, the abductees start killing each other. When "The Program" believes that everyone but Joe is dead, they place them in body bags and ship them out of the town. Once safely out of the town, the killings are revealed to have been an elaborate hoax. Everyone comes out of the body bags and suffocate the driver. The van then flips over a hill. The episode ends with Joe being tased by "The Program".|
|13||"Shadows in the Cave"[†]||Michael Rymer||Remi Aubuchon||August 28, 2010||4002-08-113||2.85|
|After the vehicle accident, the group has split up. Moira and Erika have made their way to Morocco. Charlie and Blackham are somewhere in America driving aimlessly in a stolen car. Janet is hospitalized in the psychiatric wing of a hospital in San Francisco. McNair has been taken captive by the program; Joe remains in their custody after having sacrificed himself so the others could escape. When Renbe and Kat find out Janet is in the hospital, they go to find her only to be abducted by the men in blue. The madame director proves to have influence at the hospital, posing as a doctor and dismissing Janet's stories of the town as delusions. Janet escapes and makes her way to her mother's house to be reunited with her daughter. Sam takes Janet and her daughter toward the border, stopping overnight in a hotel. When Janet awakens, she is back in the hotel at the town. She exits her room to discover Moira, Charlie, Erika, Bill and Graham have all been returned as well. Meanwhile Kat is taken to a horrifying prison camp and caged; Ambassador Fairchild is there as well. Joe also awakens in the town hotel and discovers a whole new group of abductees including Renbe; their hotel manager is Tori. Janet's group boards the hotel elevator and it opens up to reveal that they are actually on a massive boat in the middle of the ocean, not back in the town. They are met by the old night manager, who says to them: "Welcome to level two". Lastly, the name of the ship is revealed to be "Almas Perdidas", a Spanish or Portuguese phrase which translates to "Lost Souls".|
- ^ † These episodes of the series did not air on some NBC-TV service providers, namely New York City, Detroit and Seattle, due to local NFL Preseason games that were scheduled to air in those cities in late August before NBC moved the show from Monday to Saturday nights.
- ^ ‡ The episode "Seven Sacrifices" did not air on NBC at all, due to the network making the decision to air a NFL on NBC broadcast. Instead the episode was posted on NBC.com.
Persons Unknown was produced by Fox Television Studios through its international model, where series are produced for the US market with the help of international financing. Filming occurs in foreign locations where production costs are lower, and the series is "pre-sold" to international broadcasters. The completed series is then pitched for sale to US networks for pick up.
Persons Unknown was created by Christopher McQuarrie. In September 2008, Fox announced that it was beginning production of the series, which was co-financed by Televisa in Mexico and Italy's RAI. Filming began in late October 2008 in Mexico City, soon after announcement that Michael Rymer was hired to direct the first episode. Thirteen episodes were produced.
On April 3, 2012, in an interview with CliqueClack TV, producer and writer Remi Aubuchon revealed many of the unanswered plot points of the series, including some of what was planned for a second season.
Randee Dawn from the Hollywood Reporter wrote that its "clever setup and moody atmosphere make this place worth checking into." Maureen Ryan of the Chicago Tribune said the "...pilot efficiently lays out its premise and ratchets up the pressure on the characters, who are only types so far, but it doesn't matter because the plot's the thing here." Overall the show received mixed or average reviews according to Metacritic where it received a score of 50 points out of 100.
|Season premiere||Season finale||TV Season|
|1||13||June 7, 2010||August 28, 2010||2009–2010||2.7||NBC|
|Canada||Ztélé (In French)||March 15, 2011|
|France||TPS Star||April 4, 2011|
|Philippines||CHASE on BEAM 31|
|Denmark||TV2 Zulu||14 July 2012|
|Poland||Fox Polska||2 April 2012|
|Lithuania||TV3 Lithuania||4 October 2011|
|Middle East and North Africa||OSN|
|New Zealand||TV3 New Zealand||18 February 2012|
|United Kingdom||Syfy||31 October 2011|
|Czech republic||Prima Cool||1 July 2012|
|Belgium||2BE||21 July 2013|
|Finland||MTV3||8 December 2013|
The complete series DVD, titled "Persons Unknown: The Complete First Season" was intended to be released on September 7, 2010 after being pushed back from an initial August 14, 2010 release. It has yet to be released.
- Wayward Pines - another TV series with the same premise of a town that no one can escape from.
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- Executive Producer Remi Aubuchon Exclusive Interview PERSONS UNKNOWN
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- "Nielsen TV Ratings Monday: Lie To Me ratings, The Bachelorette ratings, How I Met Your Mother ratings, Last Comic Standing ratings, 90210 ratings, Rules Of Engagement ratings, Two and A Half Men ratings, Big Bang Theory ratings, Gossip Girl ratings, True Beauty ratings, CSI: Miami ratings, Good Guys ratings - Ratings". TVbytheNumbers. 2010-06-29. Retrieved 2013-12-10.
- "Nielsen TV Ratings Monday: Lie To Me ratings, The Bachelorette ratings, How I Met Your Mother ratings, Last Comic Standing ratings, 90210 ratings, Rules Of Engagement ratings, Two and A Half Men ratings, Big Bang Theory ratings, Gossip Girl ratings, True Beauty ratings, CSI: Miami ratings, Good Guys ratings - Ratings". TVbytheNumbers. 2010-07-06. Retrieved 2013-12-10.
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- "TV Ratings: ABC Races to Lead on a Strange Saturday; ‘Persons Unknown‘ Grew by 2 Million…Maybe - Ratings". TVbytheNumbers. Retrieved 2013-12-10.
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- Persons Unknown -- TV Review
- Persons Unknown' knows how to build suspense (so far)
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