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The kids are all right: Pint-sized personnel play key roles in ABC's Resurrection, NBC's Believe

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Congrats if your child is an A student. Kudos, too, if your youngster is a future NHLer, a musical prodigy or the next-pint-sized big-screen star.

As great as they may be -- or, at least, as your parental pride pushes you to believe they are -- your exceedingly gifted offspring are going to seem inferior compared to a tandem of TV tykes arriving in prime time this week.


Starring Kurtwood Smith, Frances Fisher, Omar Epps and Landon Gimenez
Sunday, March 9, at 8 p.m.
ABC and Citytv
Four stars out of five

Starring Delroy Lindo, Jake McLaughlin, Kyle MacLachlan and Johnny Sequoyah
Monday, Mar. 10 at 9 p.m.
Three stars out of five

Unless they've recently risen from the dead or are destined to one day save the world, real-life rugrats simply can't measure up to what ABC's Resurrection and NBC's Believe are bringing to the small screen.

As dispiriting as that might be, the good news here is that the new dramas that introduce these pint-sized paranormals to TV viewers are quite entertaining.

First up is Resurrection. The simple yet far-reaching premise involves the small town of Arcadia, Mo., whose residents are sent spinning when some of their long-dead loved ones start returning, having not aged a minute since the day their lives ended.

The series pilot actually opens in a rice paddy in a remote rural part of China, in which an eight-year-old Caucasian boy (Landon Gimenez) suddenly awakens, wet and frightened. After wandering into a town and collapsing in front of its Chinese inhabitants, the boy is taken in by authorities and returned to the U.S., where the process of trying to locate his family begins.

Assigned to the case is immigration-department agent J. Martin Bellamy (Omar Epps), who figures out that the child's name is Jacob (it's stitched into the collar of his sweatshirt) and he's from Arcadia (after quickly figuring out how to play games on a smartphone, the boy types the name of the town and hands the device back to Marty).

Once in Arcadia, Jacob directs the agent to what he claims is his home; Marty rings the doorbell and asks the elderly gent (Kurtwood Smith) who answers if he has a son, and if that son has gone missing.

"I've got him; he's OK," says Marty.

"My son... died 32 years ago," replies the man.

But Jacob, still eight years old, is standing right there. And so begins a series of confusing and highly emotional reunions that causes the Langston family and all of Arcadia to question what they believe and what really matters.

And as it turns out, Jacob is just the first to return. Those who follow appear under similarly mysterious circumstances, but their stories might not be as innocent and outwardly wondrous as Jacob's.

Resurrection is a drama that quickly poses some Lost-sized questions and then invites viewers to stick around long enough for the answers to unfold. It clearly requires fully committed viewing, but the beautiful way in which the pilot's reunions are portrayed will likely convince its audience that it's a worthy investment of time.

Believe is a more action-driven drama about an extraordinary child. The young'un in question is a little girl named Bo (played by Johnny Sequoyah), who, as the series opens, is strapped into the back seat of her foster parents' SUV when a stranger barrels up from behind and forces them off the road.

What we learn immediately is that there are some very bad people after Bo, and that some very good people are trying to protect her. Part of the good guys' plan is a bit of a puzzle, however, as mysterious guardian Milton Winter (Delroy Lindo) poses as a preacher in order to help a death-row inmate (Jake McLaughlin) escape from prison just minutes before his scheduled execution.

Winter has chosen on-the-lam convict Tate -- who claims to have been wrongfully imprisoned -- as Bo's next protector, for reasons that aren't obvious until much later. In the short term, Tate is forced to join Winter's small crew as they race to evade the ruthlessly efficient hired killer who has been dispatched to capture Bo.

There's a thrill-a-minute, 24-ish vibe to Believe's première, but one can't help thinking that the pace will soon need to relent in order for the paranormal-ability storyline to be fully explored.

Believe is pretty good, but Resurrection is a more compelling mid-season attention-grabber. Both will make the kids in your neighbourhood seem rather ordinary. Twitter: @BradOswald

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 6, 2014 C6

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