George Malley (Christopher Shyer), mechanic in 'smalltown', CA--smart, but no genius--sees a bright light in the sky that seems to overwhelm him. From then on his mental prowess skyrockets, complete with extra sensory perceptions including telekinesis, premonitions, and telepathy, but also severe insomnia and headaches. Having been shunned by frightened and jealous townsfolk, including his own mother (Jill Clayburgh), George must now find a way to live in a world that either hates him or exploits him the moment he's brought to light.
The original supporting roles seem to be downplayed in this version in lieu of adding some new figures. The initial love interest is a local potter (in the original she's the chair-maker across the street), and in both stories she distances herself despite George's sincere efforts to get to know her better. But instead of inevitably opening to his interest as in the original, the new script has her gently but firmly shutting the door surprisingly early.
Once it's revealed that George's increased mental abilities are the result of an inoperable tumor, the two stories finally diverge as George sets out to live and learn as best he can, for as long as he'll live--he's told it's a matter of weeks. We also see an aspect here that was not explored the first time around. Along with his new mental faculties, George seems to have healing abilities as well. This suggests that perhaps he can hold the tumor at bay for some time to come, if not indefinitely.
Oddly, there's something significant missing from this latest telling--an ending. Fade-out sees our hero standing by himself gazing at the sunset through the distant Golden Gate. This, after successfully misleading and evading the NSA (who mistakenly believe him a military computer saboteur), having successfully installed himself in yet another small town as an electronics repairman, having reached a withdrawn, child-prodigy and healed the rift between the boy and his father, having made a new acquaintance with a mounted police woman (with an unruly horse and a broken VCR), all while continuing to send his ongoing, independent, scientific research to his professorial contact at Berkeley. Hardly a spot to wrap things up.
Now I don't read up on TV news, so I certainly wouldn't know if there was a plan here or not, but this thing screams 'TV Pilot' loud and clear to me. The performances are appropriately warm and the direction secure, but the writing is definitely more about continuing conflict (vs. tying things up in two hours).
Seems to me we've got a new spin on 'The Fugitive' as George strives to maintain his freedom (and perhaps clear his name), continue his quest to use his gifts for the common good of man and mankind, and, of course, stay alive. If they develop his relationship with the police woman, then we'll either see some tap-dancing as he's forced to hide his identity from a possible love interest, or convince her to become his partner in goodness.
While the workings to set up a series pilot are obvious and numerous, they seem sound. If they do launch a series, I'll watch. Whether it grows or tanks, I'm interested to see what more's in store for George.