'Hunters': Syfy's Alien Terrorists

·Critic-at-Large, Yahoo Entertainment

Grim, humorless, and instantly off-putting — the shot of a naked, bloody woman being kept prisoner in a cage is your early warning — Hunters is a misfire from the Syfy network, starting Monday night. Based on a Whitley Strieber novel, Hunters plays like an ancient episode of the TV series The Man From U.N.C.L.E., introducing a secret organization, the E.T.U. — “Exo-Terrorism Unit” — whose mission is to root out unearthly terrorists that take human form. It features a pair of heroes, Nathan Phillips’ FBI agent Flynn and Britne Oldford’s sharpshooter Regan, in pursuit of a ruthless villain played by Nip/Tuck’s Julian McMahon.

McMahon’s McCarthy is a wide-eyed fanatic (he’s the one keeping the woman in the cage). He’s described as “a bin Laden of little green men” working for an alien organization that, we’re solemnly told, “makes ISIS look like the Girl Scouts.”

This entire enterprise is way too solemn, especially for a show whose main villain is also a D.J. Hunters also proves once again that there are few things more insidious than 1980s dance-pop: One of the terrorists’ coded messages is tucked away in an old throbbing Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark track.

Hunters is filled with suggestions of double- and triple-crosses (you can never be sure who’s an alien taking human form unless you crack a suspect’s chest open like a lobster and pluck out the nasty wriggly bits), and the terrorists issue manifestoes with lines like, “You will bleed. You will cry. You will die.” Chances are, if you watch Hunters, you will sleep.

Hunters airs on Mondays at 10 p.m. on Syfy.