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"John Doe" Review

By Shawn McKenzie 10/06/2002

One of the best movies of this year was The Bourne Identity, and when I heard about FOX’s new show “John Doe,” I was excited to see it.  While the show is similar to the movie on the outset, it is completely different from it in every other capacity.


John Doe” is the story of a mystery man named John Doe (Dominic Purcell), so named because he doesn’t know his real name.  He is found unconscious, naked, and floating in the water.  He is rescued by a fisherman who speaks a foreign language.  He realizes he is able to understand the man, but that is not the only thing he knows how to do.  He discovers that he seems to know everything, from aardvarks to ZZ Top.  He is also colorblind.  Once he is brought back to land, he tests out his newfound knowledge.  He goes into a place and asks for the lady behind the counter to ask him anything.  After she establishes the few things he doesn’t know, like what his name is and how he got where he was, she asks him for the population of Morocco.  He gives her the correct information, which draws a crowd.  Suddenly everyone around him is spurting out questions.  He answers them all correctly, until one woman asks him when she was going to die.  It is then that he realizes that he is not psychic.  He tries to take advantage of his knowledge to get some money.  After scraping up a few coins in various places, he uses his knowledge of horses and averages to bet at the track.  He wins a lot of money, but not every race, which teaches him that he also can’t control fate.  Now that he is financially secure (since he took the money from the track and played the stock market, using his extensive knowledge again) he begins to wonder again who he is and what his personality used to be.  He wanders one day into a restaurant, notices a piano there, and begins playing it (since he realized he knows how to play the piano.)  The owner, Digger (William Forsythe), hears John play and hires him to play the piano for the restaurant.  Later, as John is relaxing in the restaurant, he sees a girl on the television in color.  Wanting to find out if this girl may play any significance in his past, he tracks down the detective working on the girl’s disappearance case.  He finds Detective Frank Hayes (John Marshall Jones), who is bothered by John at first, but comes to find his extensive knowledge useful.  Frank’s superior, Lieutenant Jamie Avery (Jayne Brook), is still leery of John though.  After helping them find the girl, he realizes that she doesn’t have anything to do with his past, so he feels like he is back to square one.  That is not until a woman on a ferryboat shouts out at him like she knows him.  Suddenly he has a lead towards finding out his past.  With the help of Frank and Karen (Sprague Grayden), a girl that Digger fires as a waitress and John hires as a personal assistant, he just might find out his past.


John Doe” is, in my opinion, the best new series of the season so far.  While it shares the “rescued from the water with amnesia and discovers he has skills” plotline of The Bourne Identity, the similarities end there.  Jason Bourne in the movie quickly realizes he is a spy, and his knowledge is limited to the essential spy skills, whereas John Doe isn’t a spy (that we know of yet), and his knowledge is limitless.  The show is packed with intrigue and always leaves you wondering along with John just why things are like they are (like why he could see the little girl in color.)  It takes you along for the ride, and you enjoy every mysterious moment of it.


If I had any complaint about “John Doe” (and this isn’t enough to penalize it score-wise) is that it ruined USA’s “Monk” for me!  I found myself wanting Adrian Monk to know everything, and when he didn’t, I was slightly frustrated.  Oh well, I’ll just have to accept that Monk doesn’t know everything and keep laughing along with his adventures while I ponder the mysteries of John Doe.

Ratings System:


Try to catch this show every week...

If a better show is on, tape this one...

If nothing else is on, maybe this will be good...

If this show is on, change the channel immediately!


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