Do You Remember: John Doe
Back before his days on the original Prison Break and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, UK-born but Australian-raised actor Dominic Purcell – back when he was still sporting hair rather than his trademark bald head – starred in a short-lived FOX science fiction drama called John Doe that ran from September 2002 through April 2003, airing 21 episodes.
Viewers of the show may recall that the pilot episode opened with a mysterious man (Purcell) waking up on an island off the coast of Seattle, Washington, naked, with absolutely no memory of who he was or how he got there.
But, apart from the details of his own past, “John Doe”, as he came to call himself, seemed to have access to the sum total of all human knowledge: he knew how many dimples are on a golf ball, the population of Morocco, and other such obscure (and not-so-obscure) facts. He also had expert knowledge on everything from the stock market to computers.
Over the course of the series John attempted to find clues about his past by using his unusual ability while also helping to solve crimes with the Seattle police department. In the process it became clear that an international conspiracy known as the Phoenix Organization was watching John’s every move.
The voice-over opening of the show was as follows:
I woke up in an island off the coast of Seattle. I didn’t know how I got there … or who I was. But I did seem to know everything else. There were things about me I didn’t understand … the brand, being colorblind, extreme claustrophobia. And while my gifts provided answers for others, I still search for my own. My name is John Doe.
Since the show only lasted 21 episodes, ending with an unresolved cliffhanger, the show’s creators – Brandon Camp and Mike Thompson – spoke with Entertainment Weekly, revealing what would have happened in the show as well as John Doe’s real identity.
In the final episode, it was revealed that Digger (veteran actor William Forsythe) – John Doe’s close friend – was actually the true leader of the Phoenix Organization. But according to Camp and Thompson that wasn’t Digger, but a Phoenix member with “some fancy facial reconstruction.” It would seem that the Phoenix believed John Doe was the Messiah and its members were actually protecting him from a second group, which wanted him dead.
But, John Doe was, in fact, injured in a boating accident. The mark on his chest was merely a scar left by a piece of shrapnel from the explosion; and his high intelligence was a by-product of transcending his body during a near-death experience, traveling to a spiritual plane where all the universe’s questions are answered.
The cast of John Doe included John Marshall Jones (as Frank Hayes), who has since appeared in Joan of Arcadia, Hart of Dixie, the streaming series Bosch, Bones and most recently in Rectify; Jayne Brook (as Jamie Avery), who has since appeared in Everwood, Boston Legal, Private Practice and Brothers & Sisters as well as then newcomer Sprague Grayden (as Karen Kawalski), who has since appeared in Joan of Arcadia, Six Feet Under, Over There, Jericho, Sons of Anarchy, 24, Low Winter Sun and The Following.
The recurring cast and/or guest stars included Rekha Sharma (from Battlestar Galactica and The 100); Gabrielle Anwar (from Burn Notice); Tony Plana (from Ugly Betty), Christopher Heyerdahl (from Sanctuary, Stargate Atlantis, Supernatural, Caprica, True Blood, The Twilight Saga franchise, Hell on Wheels and Van Helsing); and David Raymond-Peck (from Smallville, V, Orphan Black and Dark Matter).
Here is the original trailer for the short-lived series:
Do you remember John Doe?