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Posted: 10/12/00

Freakylinks
by Robert Bach

FOX TV's answer to supermarket tabloids did not last long, having come a little too soon and just being too offbeat to exist on a contender for primetime.


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Freakylinks premiered on FOX this past Friday night, October 6th, and if originality is what you're looking for on tv this year - this is the show for you. It's from the creators of the Blair Witch Project and if you didn''t like Blair Witch you've got nothing to worry about because Freakylinks is nothing like it, mainly because this series has a plotline. The only resemblance to Blair Witch is the hand-held camera that we, the viewers, often get to watch the action through. For me this only adds to the originality and eeriness of the series.

The premise of the show is based upon the Freakylinks website that documents paranormal activity. The show is a nicely blended mix of the weirdness of Poltergeist, the subject matter of the first few seasons of The X-Files, along with the best elements of Millennium and many new twists of its own.

The series revolves around Derek Barnes, played by Ethan Embry (most recently from the film Can't Hardly Wait), who, after his brother died, took over the Freakylinks website and all the paranormal investigation that goes along with it. The first episode explored the mystery and supernatural nature of his brother's death.

The second episode "Subject: Three Thirteen" was very up-with-the-times due to the renewed popularity of The Excorcist and the new Winona Ryder film Lost Souls. Derek and his crew are contacted by a worried husband who's wife, Vicki, is eight months pregnant and seemingly possessed. This becomes a race against time for the Freakylinks group because Vicki has been exhibiting all kinds of strange behavior, from pouring gasoline all over herself to playing flawless piano pieces (she never had any interest in music before), to emitting possessed screams and choking on and spitting out oil as if it were vomit.

All of this occurs right around 3:13 a.m. each night. Eventually, the group is lead to a missing girl whose name is spelled out in a toy set of baby's blocks in Vicki's future baby's bedroom. Derek and his crew determine that the missing girl is trying to make contact through Vicki. All the clues lead them to a sewage pit used as a oil runoff near an abandoned business.

Derek finds the dead body of the girl inside the pit. A few twists come next, and I won't ruin them in case you want to catch this episode in reruns, but in essence, the least expected good-guy turns bad and winds up being the real killer of the young girl. The group uncovers the truth through Vicki's possession.

The effect of using the hand-held digital camera views really adds a welcomed and suspenseful flare to the mix. This effect creates a 'claustrophobic' feeling because the viewers are only able to see what Jason (Karim Prince - the group's cameraman) allows us to see. The viewer is constantly aware there is more going on outside the camera's view, which adds to the suspense by not knowing what is going to pop up next.

FOX has been using the tagline "Witness something freaky from the creators of the Blair Witch, its a website with a life all its own," as a tagline and its very appropriate because the web site for the show at http://www.freakylinks.com really does have a life of its own.

On the site you can: look into Derek's diary dating back to 1998 featuring soundbites and written journal entries, post and reply to messages about paranormal activity, look up terminology used in the show in the "Freak-o-pedia", email Derek and a lot of other freaky-stuff. FOX has gone all-out with this show by creating this seemingly realistic website to go along with the events and characters featured in the show, giving an added dimension to the series. So, you can check up on paranormal investigations all week long - not just on Friday nights.

The first episode debuted to mildly-successful numbers from the Nielsen's, but due to the activity on the web site, Freakylinks.com might be the force that gives the series its staying power and keeps viewers interested, and much like The X-Files did in its first season, I can already see a "cult" following beginning to develope for this show.

The main characters are great, the situations and plot-lines are interesting and thought-provoking, and the premise of the show is very original, especially during this season that is so full of sit-coms and legal dramas. Freakylinks is a welcomed addition to primetime television!

Robert Bach is a writer and musician and former entertainment editor for an East Coast publication.

Got a problem? Email Robert at filmmonthly@hotmail.com