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"The Pretender"

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Even if you haven't quite recovered from the May 8 "crossover" double-whammy of The Pretender and Profiler -- in which Michael T. Weiss's Jarod helped Ally Walker's Samantha track down a couple of brainwashed zombies in the sinister business of abducting brilliant little boys to improve an extended-family gene pool -- you won't want to miss the two-hour cliffhanger episode that concludes the third stylish season of The Pretender (Saturday, May 22; 9 to 11 p.m.; NBC). Photocopying more than a couple pages from The X-Files, the series explains itself macro-cosmically. Above the "Center" that steals children is a "Triumvirate" in darkest Africa. And down in its deepest closet is a Project Gemini that traffics not only in "designer livestock" but also in human clones, with a whole warehouse of aborted mutations. Jarod is not alone, or safe, even in his DNA. Miss Parker is appalled. The Pretender is a wonderfully paranoid combination of Edward Woodward's Equalizer and Peter Hoeg's Borderliners.


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