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TV Review: ABC’s ‘The Whispers’

ABC bows mystery series The Whispers — based on Ray Bradbury’s short story "Zero Hour"—on June 1 at 10 p.m. Developed and coexecutive produced by Soo Hugh, with Steven Spielberg also serving as executive producer, the series stars Lily Rabe, Barry Sloane and Milo Ventimiglia. The following are reviews from TV critics around the web, compiled by B&C.

 “The main difference between the show and its source material is that ‘Zero Hour’ is only a few pages long—enough time to get the gag across, but not too long for the gag to get stale. The Whispers is intended to run considerably longer, and if the first three episodes are any indication, staleness will be a concern.”
—Zack Handlen, A.V. Club

“Turning a 10-page short story into a TV series requires a lot of renovation and expansion, and in that process most of the Bradbury lyricism has been lost. The Whispers throws in marital drama, nuclear sabotage and the F.B.I., and it has to literalize the invaders, who now manipulate electricity and can snatch a fighter jet out of the sky.”
—Mike Hale, New York Times

“Full of doe-eyed children talking to invisible and possibly sinister forces in the ceiling, the shrubbery and the night sky, The Whispers gets as much mileage out of the Steven Spielberg hand-stamp (he's an executive producer) as possible. But are we talking PoltergeistClose Encounters of the Third Kind or Transformers? Do the kids need saving or do we?”
—Mary McNamara, Los Angeles Times

“All of the actors are good, but special mention must be made of the kids. Some are impossibly young, yet we believe them every minute, even when they are communicating with their unseen and unheard friend. It is to the credit of the writers and directors that the innocence we would expect in kids this young is carefully maintained, which only makes the central motif of the series that much more unsettling.”
—David Wiegand, San Francisco Chronicle

“None of that takes away from the modest enjoyableness of the show, which drips clues over the first three episodes, as kids interact with an ‘imaginary friend’ only they can see. Less imagination is required to see The Whispers hooking enough viewers to make some noise.”
—Brian Lowry, Variety

“True, the series is marred by some very lazy writing: Major plot twists occur through the lamest manufactured events. In one scene, false suspense is created when a photo emailed to Claire takes two full minutes to download on her high-end laptop. Despite it all, this is seriously addictive stuff. Where is The Whispers leading us? I wager we'll all be glued to our TVs trying to figure that out.”
—Tirdad Derakhshani, Philadelphia Inquirer