Expect the pilot for “Intruders” to make very little sense. The new BBC America mystery series offers many more questions than answers in its premiere episode, and then will make its audience wait a while to have those questions resolved.
“Have you ever seen the end of ‘Blair Witch [Project]’? We keep that tradition of not letting you know what’s going on,” director Eduardo Sanchez tells reporters at the summer 2014 TV press tour. “I just love the idea of having to come back for more answers to your questions.”
There are a lot of questions, though. Showrunner Glen Morgan, who worked on network TV shows like “Those Who Kill,” “The X-Files” and “Bionic Woman,” says he was thrilled that BBC America encouraged him to push deeper into the show’s mystery instead of explaining more.
The basic premise of “Intruders” is that each person can carry two souls inside of them, though not all people manage to do so. What the implications of that means for the main characters of the series (portrayed by John Simm, Mira Sorvino, James Frain and Millie Brown) plays out over the course of its eight-episode season.
“The audience has to have a lot of questions in their mind in order to propel them,” executive producer Jane Tranter says. “Everything is a question, and eventually there are answers given.”
Morgan says that he took a lot of cues from “The X-Files” creator Chris Carter when it came to developing “Intruders.” “What I learned from Chris was to stand your ground,” he says of defending important facets of the show. He adds that all of the producer alumni of “X-Files” “learned together how to tell a mystery on TV.”
“Intruders” is based on the Michael Marshall Smith novel “The Intruders,” so viewers desperate for answers can find them there. But the final four episodes of Season 1 veer from and expand upon the novel, and future seasons will go into material that Smith has dreamed up but not published for the final two novels of his planned “Intruders” trilogy.
“He told us what he intended to do, and Glen has many ideas as well,” Tranter says. “I like the idea of a ‘renewable serial.’ I feel like you can have your cake and eat it.”
Morgan offering his own expanded take on the story means that actors like Sorvino find their character arcs expanded in the series.
“Glen used the novel as a springboard, a jumping off place to take these characters to new heights and depths,” she says of her character Amy Whelan. “All kinds of amazing things happen for me as an actor in the second block. … I’ve had some of the toughest acting challenges of my working life in this show, and some of the most rewarding days — if tough — on the set.”
There is a set-up for a Season 2, but Morgan also feels the show can be self-contained in Season 2. “Should this be it, I really think it will be satisfying,” he says.
“Intruders” premieres on Aug. 23 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on BBC America.