8 June 1999 | vivideye
This show has come a long way...
Since our local station airs Psi-Factor immediately following The X-Files, my acquaintance with this unique Canadian show was inevitable. In the first season, the episodes were split into two separate segments of twenty or so minutes each, and the characters, investigative team members for the O.S.I.R. (Office of Scientific Investigation and Research), did little more than run around muttering techno-babble over their instrumentation. In other words, there wasn't much plot or character development.
By the second season, the format changed to a straight hour with one storyline, which improved things considerably; in my opinion, a show that deals with complex--not to mention, paranormal!--situations such as the ones showcased on Psi-Factor should be at least an hour long! The addition of Matt Frewer to the cast was also a big plus. His familiarity with the sci-fi genre made his settling-in time short and smooth while the character he plays, the off-beat, rebellious Case Manager Matt Praeger, injected some much needed fun and energy into what was a sometimes dour and uptight team. An X-Files-esque conspiracy began to develop as well, hinting at the possibility that perhaps those at the top of the O.S.I.R. echelon weren't simply running a legitimate scientific organization in earnest search of tangible proof of paranormal phenomena, but instead, with sinister governmental and corporate ties, shunt the flow of truth into confidential channels just when Matt and the rest of the team are getting close to something big. Which is where Michael Moriarty enters the picture: as the drunken, chain-smoking conspiracy fanatic with connections, Michael Kelly. He does an excellent job, and adds yet more depth to the show.
Not only do the relatively well-known Frewer and Moriarty shine, Colin Fox as the grandfatherly yet suave Professor Anton Hendricks, Barclay Hope as the protocol-obsessed and rather dishy physicist Peter Axon, Nancy Anne Sakovich as the modelesque, hacking genius, and Soo Garay as a somewhat necrophilic Dr. Claire Davison all give exceptional performances. Secondary characters such as mysterious good guy Case Manager Curtis Rollins (Maurice Dean Wint), dark man at the top Frank Elsinger (Nigel Bennett), and lovable goofball Lennox "L.Q." Cooper (Peter Blais) the team's cryptozoologist, always lend their own unique flavour to each episode they appear in.
With the third season came better effects, even more character development (as well as friction!), and higher quality scripts--which included some more in-depth explorations of the dubious string-pulling up top.
This show has really come a long way! Take a look at an early episode of the X-Files, you're bound to be shocked by the vast difference in quality compared to episodes from the most recent few seasons. I believe we're seeing a similar progression with the fantastic--in every way--Psi-Factor. Way to go Dan Ackroyd and crew!