Lois' Daily Planet

The Pretender

SYNOPSIS FOR
MURDER 101
which aired on Saturday, January 9, 1999

PRETENDER ... SYNOPSIS FOR MURDER 101
The Pretender was created by Steven Long Mitchell & Craig W. Van Sickle

The series stars:
Michael T. Weiss as Jarod
Andrea Parker as Miss Parker
Patrick Bauchau as Sydney
Jon Gries as Broots
with Jamie Denton as Mr. Lyle

The Pretender also stars (although not necessarily in every episode):    Sam Ayres (Sam  the Sweeper), Zachary Browne (Young Kyle), Paul Dillon (Angelo),  Jeffrey Donovan (Kyle),  Willie Gault (Willie the Sweeper),  Pamela Gidley (Brigitte), Richard Marcus (Mr. Raines), Ryan Merriman (Young Jarod), Kim
 Meyers (Jarod's Mother), Jonathan Osser (Younger Jarod), Ashley Peldon (Young Miss Parker),
 Harve Presnell (Mr. Parker), and Alex Wexo (Young Sydney).

Guest Stars:   Tamara Braun, L.B. Fisher, Mario Schugel, Marguerite MacIntyre, Grand L. Bush

This is EPISODE #53 
Written By:  Andrew Dettmann & Daniel Truly
Directed By: Scott Lautanen


The show opens with a telephone call to Miss Parker from Jarod, pointing out to her that she really doesn't know much more about her father than he does about his.   He tells her to check her mail, then hangs up. 

A check of her mail for the day reveals to Miss Parker that her father has changed his will!  Before she and Sydney can consider the implications of this news, Broots enters Miss Parker's office and tells her that Jarod has supposedly been spotted somewhere ... and Miss Parker tells Broots to put a sweeper team on it. 

It's Dr. Jarod Gardner's first day in class and as he crosses the stage in the amphitheater type classroom, he drags his fingernails across the chalkboard in order to get the attention of his students.   He has taken over as the Professor of Class #523 ... a graduate course called The Psychology of the Criminal Mind.   The class is part of the university's Vanguard program -- and only the brightest students are enrolled.   The Psychology of the Criminal Mind was previously instructed by Professor Alden Clark, author of the book, "The Perfect Murder," but has been on hold since the professor went missing a year ago.   It has been presumed that Professor Clark just emptied his bank account and "ran off" one day, with the mistress that his wife never knew he had, leaving the pregnant Mrs. Clark to bear and raise their child alone. 

Several minutes into his first class, Jarod is interrupted by the entrance of two men to his left.   Before anyone really knows what has happened, one of the intruders shoots Jarod (who is attempting to flee) in the back, and Jarod falls - bleeding - face down on the stage!   As the class watches in horror, the assassin drags Jarod off the stage and out of sight.  The entire class is immobile for a moment, then pandemonium breaks out. 

Just before a student leaves to dial 911, Jarod comes back to the stage and faces his class for the second time in 10 minutes.   It was a demonstration, he tells them, staged with the help of some students from the drama class!   Now that he has the full attention of everyone in the class, Jarod begins asking individual students to describe the person who attacked and shot him.   No one can do it, until Claire Dunning, a student sitting off to one side of the room, arrogantly offers up an accurate and complete recount of the entire scene.  Jarod tells the class that their curriculum for this semester will be to solve the mystery of Professor Clark's disappearance.

The scene changes and Jarod is leaning against a car that is parked at the curb in front of a house in some unknown middle-class neighborhood.   As he stands there, Jarod is refreshing his memory by looking through a new, red notebook.   There are newspaper articles in the notebook ... the first is about the disappearance of Professor Clark, and the second is about the fact that Mrs. Clark has had their baby and hasn't given up hope for her husband's eventual return.   The garage is open - inside, Deborah Clark is packing up various household items.   Her infant son is within her reach ... in an infant seat.   It's apparent she is planning to move.   She tells Jarod that if he is a bill-collector, he is out of luck ... she has lost everything, even the house. 

Jarod introduces himself to Mrs. Clark, explaining that he is taking over her husband's class at the University of Hanover.   He shows her one of the "missing" posters that she had printed and distributed and tells her that he would like to help her solve the mystery of her husband's disappearance. 

Mrs. Clark tells Jarod that she and her husband had a very difficult time getting pregnant and that he wanted children more than anything else. There is no way, she continues, that he would have missed his son's birth ... if he were alive.

Back at the Centre, Miss Parker is unhappy because the lead she received earlier from Broots did not work out.  Broots reminds her that he was only the messenger ... that it wasn't his fault that Jarod was not where the informant said he would be.  As Miss Parker is berating Broots, a man that she has never seen before meets and shakes hands with her father on the other side of the room.  Miss Parker asks Broots if he knows the man and Broots tells Miss Parker that he's a doctor - Broots just rode up on the elevator with him.  Suddenly, the fact that Mr. Parker is changing his will takes on a different meaning and Miss Parker looks concerned. 

At the door to her father's office, Miss Parker sees him accepting several bottles of medication from the doctor.   Remembering the change that he recently made to his will, she begins to fear the worst ... perhaps her father is dying!

Jarod pays a visit to the local police department to see what the status is on the investigation relating to Dr. Clark.   Paul Rusk, the detective in charge of the case, tells Jarod that the harsh reality is that Dr. Clark left his wife because he was having an affair and while he feels sorry for Mrs. Clark, he has 25 "real" cases to work on and he just doesn't have any more time to spend looking for Professor Clark. 

In class again, Jarod asks his students how they think the perfect murder could/should be committed.   The class names a dozen and a half ways to kill someone, but decide that in the end, it would all come down to dealing with the body.   Once again, Claire voices her thoughts ... saying that the perfect murder isn't a murder at all ... it's an accident!   Another student agrees, saying that it should be something that fits into the victim's daily routine.   Still another student points out that in Professor Clark's case, he used to go up to his cabin every Friday after school ... and that Professor Clark disappeared on a Friday. 

In his office at the University, Jarod watches part of a DSA of himself when he was young.   In the DSA, the young Jarod is complaining to Sydney that he is bored - that he needs problems that are more challenging to do.   In the middle of his complaint, he notices some men working on an electrical box in the hallway above and asks Sydney what they are doing.   Sydney tells him that they are working on the security system and that it doesn't concern Jarod ... 

Jarod's viewing of the DSA is interrupted by a phone call from Mrs. Clark.   She's calling Jarod back in response to a message he left, asking her about her husband's trips to the cabin.   Mrs. Clark tells Jarod that while it was true that her husband usually spent Friday nights at the cabin ... on the Friday that he disappeared, he was supposed to head straight home because she had just found out that very day that she was pregnant and they were going to celebrate.   As a result, she never told the police about the cabin - and, therefore, the road leading up to it was not searched by them. 

That night, Jarod searches the road himself.   He finds evidence of a car going off the road and climbs down to check it out.   At the bottom of the cliff, he finds Professor Clark's car!   Inside are Professor Clark's year old remains, the money he withdrew from his bank accounts, two tickets to Matzatlan, some sexy Polaroid pictures of a woman whose name was Cara Sweet, a copy of his book and the remains of a 6 pack of beer.   Jarod places an anonymous call to the police and the case of Professor Clark is changed from that of a "missing person" to a homicide. 

Jarod again visits Mrs. Clark, to talk about the consequences of her husband's body being found.   The tells Jarod that she doesn't know what to think about her husband anymore, the evidence of his planned flight with a lover is so overwhelming ... but Jarod tells her to believe what's in her heart. 

Unable to worry silently any longer, Miss Parker confronts her father - telling him that she knows about the change in his will and life insurance and about the visits from the doctor.   She asks him, "Daddy, are you dying?"   Mr. Parker only laughs and says that quite to the contrary, he feels as though he has been reborn.   He is in love and is, in fact, engaged.   He shows Miss Parker that the bottles he received from the doctor are for Vitamin E, Ginseng and Vigara!   Miss Parker is stunned by this news and wants to know who the woman is .... but her father won't tell her, saying that he promised his fiancee that she could be there when he told Miss Parker about it. 

At the University, Jarod is meeting with Claire, Grady and Matthew in the lab.   Matthew tells Jarod that Dr. Clark was their advisor and Jarod says that he's surprised they aren't more upset by the fact that he is dead instead of just "missing."   Claire says that she sees no reason to be upset - this new turn of events just makes the game more fun because there are clues to follow.   There is excitement in danger, she thinks ... but Jarod is remembering how she phrased the first part of her reply and remarks ... "Game?"   Claire, meanwhile, is zeroing in on Jarod -- telling him that she thinks they should work much more closely together -- her meaning is clear, and Jarod leaves no doubt in her mind how he feels about that idea ... he shuts her down right away.   But Claire appears to be unbothered by this state of events and immediately turns her attention to Matthew, so that Jarod can see that it doesn't really matter to her. 

Standing in the doorway before leaving the lab, Jarod remembers the rest of the DSA that he was watching earlier ... after the workmen had gone, Jarod broke into the security system and set off all of the alarms in the Centre.   As bells clanged, sirens whooped, and people ran to and fro in confusion -- Jarod spun happily around in his chair at his work station ... playing with the security had only been a game to him - just something to break the monotony.

Later, Jarod checks the school's database on Matthew Collins and finds that his grades have been in a freefall since Professor Clark's disappearance.   Claire Dunning's grades, however, have only gotten better. 

Back in class, some of the students tell Jarod that they think the pursuit is getting too creepy -- and if it's the perfect murder, then they'll never find anything anyway.   Jarod tells them that the murder wasn't perfect; that the killer made a serious mistake in not knowing that Professor Clark planned to change his routine that day and wasn't heading up to his cabin at all.   Therefore, all of the evidence to the contrary, it was likely that the Professor did not have a mistress and was not heading for Matzatlan with her.   Professor Clark could not accidentally have gone off the road and ended up at the bottom of the cliff on the way to his cabin, because he wasn't going to his cabin! 

The police report showed that Professor Clark had been drinking beer.   Jarod asks Matthew what kind of drug would metabolize in the blood to look like alcohol and Matthew gives him the answer for which he is looking.   Jarod points out to the class that Professor Clark could then have been drugged, and the accident staged. 

After class, Jarod lurks outside the window while Claire meets with Matthew and Grady.   She argues with Matthew, shoves him away, continues to speak with Grady for a moment or two and then puts a yellow legal pad into an envelope that is bound for the police department.   While Claire arranges for a courier, Jarod goes to the police department and positions himself to intercept the envelope before it is delivered to the detective in charge of the case.   The legal pad is Matthew's and lists all of the elements of the murder on it!   Claire has set Matthew up as the patsy! 

Jarod shows Matthew what Claire has done and Matthew doesn't want to believe it, but Jarod is very persuasive and soon Matthew finds that he cannot deny what Claire is trying to do.   As Claire continues to plot, Jarod and Matthew stage his suicide, so that Claire and Grady think he killed himself rather than have the police arrest him.   Then Matthew and Jarod start working on setting up Claire and Grady! 

As Claire tells Grady not to even think about poor Matthew because he just wasn't up to their caliber, Jarod slips into the back seat of their car and offers up beers ... to celebrate the fact that Claire "won the game."   Her ego won't let her refuse the offer, and as usual, Grady goes along.   But Jarod has put the same drug in their beer that they used on Professor Clark, so it doesn't take long before they are both rendered unconscious. 

When Claire awakens, she finds herself standing on a chair with a gun in her hand, hand-cuffed, with a noose around her neck!   Before she is fully awake, a gloved Jarod removes the gun from her - telling her that he doesn't want her to smear her own fingerprints.   Grady has been tied up in a chair, off to the side, and Jarod explains that he has forged a note of confession from Claire, which says that she and Grady killed Professor Clark - then, certain of being caught, and full of remorse, that she shot Grady and hung herself.   Claire remains arrogant, telling Grady that Jarod would never do it and telling him not to say anything ... but Jarod shoots one of the legs off of the chair upon which Claire is standing and Grady caves in and blurts out the whole story. 

Jarod aims the gun at Grady anyway, then shoots a blank at him -- Grady flings himself away from what he thinks is a lethal shot and ends up tipping his chair over and falling onto the floor.   In the same moment, Jarod kicks the chair out from underneath Claire ... but ... she does not hang!   Jarod has rigged a harness to Claire's back and she simply dangles harmlessly from that.   Jarod shows her the camera that has taped the entire scenario and then leaves them there as he exits the room. 

Back at the Centre, Miss Parker has had a talk with Sydney about the necessity of people moving on with their lives, in spite of having suffered great tragedy.   Miss Parker, regretting her first reaction to her father's engagement announcement, goes to his office with a small gift for him ... a peace offering. 

As she enters, looking for him, she hears sound of laughter from one side of his office and follows it.   She opens the door and finds Mr. Parker in his private hot tub with a dark haired woman, who must be his new fiancee.   The woman turns to face Miss Parker and ... it is Brigitte ... complete with a lollipop in her mouth!   Miss Parker is flabbergasted!   She reminds her father that it wasn't that long ago that Brigitte tried to kill him ... but Mr. Parker isn't hearing any of it - he is smitten with the young vixen.   Brigitte taunts Miss Parker, waving her left hand at her, showing her the engagement ring that Mr. Parker has bought for her ... telling Miss Parker that Brigitte will soon be her new "Mummy."   Miss Parker can only watch the scene in a state of complete horror.   Then, as a final insult, Brigitte tells Miss Parker, "I'm his angel, now."

Jarod makes a final phone call to Miss Parker, rubbing her nose in her father's folly.   It is a bitter pill for Miss Parker to swallow, but there is nothing she can do about it, and she hangs up the phone and puts her head in her hands ... miserable to her very core. 

Meanwhile, Jarod meets with Mrs. Clark and her son, Chris, one last time.   Mrs. Clark thanks Jarod and asks him how he was so certain that her husband was the victim of foul play and had not run off with another woman.   Jarod tells her that he was certain because of the dedication in her husband's book, "The Perfect Murder" ... which was (paraphrase) "To Chris ... whom I have waited to meet for so very long."

And the screen fades to black ...




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