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Miracles
Reviewed by Amy H. Sturgis, © 2003

Format: TV
By:   Richard Hatem (writer, creator), David Greenwalt (writer, exec producer)
Genre:   Horror
Released:   2003
Review Date:   April 10, 2003
Audience Rating:   PG-13
RevSF Rating:   9/10 (What Is This?)
A great man . . . it was the farm boy Wesley, I believe, acting as the Dread Pirate Roberts . . . once said 'Get used to disappointment.' I certainly should be used to it by now. How many quality genre series do I need to see cancelled out of hand? "Firefly," anyone? "Farscape"? I could go on forever. I have angst backed up from the "VR.5" and "Lone Gunmen" years, people, just looking for an excuse to come out and play.

I've sent emails, made phone calls, signed petitions, and written letters, but it doesn't matter. Maybe the Skull and Bones Society is behind this, or perhaps Cancer Man plotted it out (you know, back when he was Cancer Man and not the kinder and gentler Cigarette Smoking Man), or it might be proof of a Vast Right- or Left-Wing Conspiracy, but one thing is clear: if it's different, if it's thoughtful, if it's well done, then it's as good as gone.

Miracles made me love it. I didn't wanna do it; no, I didn't wanna do it.

The series begins with a premise reminiscent of the "X-Files" at its best mixed with "Millennium" (which never had the chance to run out of steam), with just a touch of the superior 1999 Gabriel Byrne/Patricia Arquette thriller "Stigmata" thrown in for good measure. Father Paul Callan (Skeet Ulrich of "Scream" fame, trying hard to be Johnny Depp) is a Catholic priest sent by the Church to investigate reports of possible miracles. He finds scientific causes behind all of the incidents he examines and comes close to losing his faith in the process.

In what becomes his final case for the Church, however, Callan discovers a dying boy with the gift of healing. When the boy gives his life to save Callan's after a terrible car accident, and then doesn't let a little thing like death stop him from paying repeated visits to the priest, Callan is convinced he's witnessed The Real Thing. Moreover, Callan sees the words 'God is Now Here' written in his own blood, which gets his attention, to say the least. His earnest, excited report to a dismissive Church leads him to leave his position and flounder for direction.

Direction appears in the form of Sodalitas Quaerito (say that three times really quickly), a group composed of former professor Alva Keel (Angus MacFadyen, "Braveheart"'s beautiful, brooding Robert the Bruce) and former policewoman Evelyn Santos ("General Hospital"'s exotic Marisa Ramirez).

This organization is committed to exploring unexplained phenomena (think Mulder and Scully) from the view that more so-called 'miracles' are happening all the time, pointing the way for some extreme, possibly catastrophic End Time (now think Frank Black).

With the addition of Callan, the trio represents Faith (the priest), Thought (the scholar), and Action (the policewoman), an effective tri-part window through which the show is just beginning to develop an intricate, thought-provoking arc about the nature of Good, Evil, and Free Will.

At the heart of the arc is Callan himself, whose mysterious past and untapped powers have the potential to cast him in either a demonic or angelic role as the veil between this world and others grows increasingly thin.

Solid acting, good and sometimes truly great writing, and unusually high production values, especially in terms of music, color and lighting, and editing (think "Stigmata"), give "Miracles" the appearance of compelling film rather than mere television. Never preachy, and sometimes quite creepy, the episodes grow more complex, mature, and self-assured as each week passes.

Or they did.

The show is history after six episodes, and fans won't even have the opportunity to see the remaining shows of the season. A combination of lackluster promotion by ABC and bad timing (for two weeks, the fledgling series was preempted for coverage of what ABC termed 'current events,' also known as war) conspired to doom this too-good-for-network series.

Yes, 'Save Miracles' efforts are already underway (see www.miraclestv.com, http://www.petitiononline.com/mir8453/petition.html, http://www.mclaughlinlabs.com/Leigh/Miracles/home.htm, and http://pub11.ezboard.com/fmiraclesmessageboardfrm20), and I will take part because it's good form.

But let this little Eeyore tell you the truth: they won't help. The good series always die young, and these days the genre's infant mortality rate is astounding.
Amy H. Sturgis once saw ìVote for Number Sixî written in her own ketchup.

 
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