What would you think if you saw your child talking to someone that’s not there? You’d probably just think he or she has an imaginary friend. But what if it’s not imaginary? What if this being or thing is making your kid do terrible things? That’s the premise behind ABC’s new summer drama The Whispers.

The series kicks off with kids playing in a yard, with a little girl off to the side talking to something that’s not there. Later, the girl wants her mom to come up to the treehouse with her as part of a game she’s playing. She’ll lose the game if her mom doesn’t stand on the X — X marks the spot. As soon as the mother does, a terrible tragedy occurs.

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Scary, right? That little girl, Harper, is just one of the children who are playing this game; they’re getting their instructions from their “friend” named Drill. But what does it all mean? Is there an actual person behind this craziness? Who is the puppet master, so to speak? That’s the big mystery of The Whispers, and one that I hope will have a satisfying conclusion when all is said and done. But before we get to that end result, there’s the journey to that point that we have to experience.

Lily Rabe, the exceptional actress who we all know from American Horror Story, stars on The Whispers as Claire Bennigan, a child specialist with the FBI. She’s assigned to talk with little Harper about the incident and see if she can glean any information about what happened. She’s doesn’t say much at first, only that Drill speaks through the lights sometimes.

The unfortunate thing is that pretty soon there’s another child who’s playing this game with the unseen Drill because the latter is looking for a new friend. And then another gets wrapped up in it as well. 

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Minx is one of those children. While she doesn’t get her mother, Lena, to step on an X like Harper did, there’s far more at play here that extends to a whole host of people. Lena even puts her into therapy so she will stop this nonsense.

The show does go into the personal lives of many of the characters. Take Claire, for example. She lost her husband in a plane crash and has a son, Henry, who’s deaf. Then there’s Lena, Minx’s mother, whose husband, Wes, has to travel to Africa for official business with the Department of Defense. But that storyline isn’t just some secondary plot to balance the sci-fi elements. Pretty much everything on this show might just be connected in some way, but how? Again, the hope is we’ll get all of these questions answered in due time. For now, though, it’s fun to just go along with it and wonder how it will turn out. You can start to see how there’s a lot more at play than just a simple game with an “imaginary friend” from watching the trailer below:

With everything that I’ve mentioned so far, there’s already a ton of mystery to keep our attention. But possibly the most mysterious figure on The Whispers is a John Doe played by Heroes alum Milo Ventimiglia. (I’m sure you can find out the character’s real name elsewhere online, but that would spoil the surprise.) There’s something not quite right with him. And yet he may know more than anybody about what’s going on — while at the same time being a danger to those around him. In the second and third episodes (and likely beyond that), his plans start to come into better focus.

Beyond the storylines, The Whispers has a fantastic group of actors and actresses. Most of us know Lily Rabe from American Horror Story, and while the FX drama does a better job showcasing the range of her acting abilities, mainly because of what she’s able to do with those characters, Rabe doesn’t disappoint on The Whispers. And Milo Ventimiglia plays mysterious really well. Sporting long hair and a beard, he’s not quite as recognizable as he was on Heroes. There’s also Barry Sloane (Revenge) as Wes, Kristen Connolly as Lena Lawrence (House of Cards) and Derek Webster as Jessup Rollins (one of Claire’s colleagues at the FBI).

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I can’t forget about the kids, of course. All of them are great; I don’t think there’s a weak link. Sometimes child actors either overact or you can tell that they don’t have much training. But Abby Ryder Fortson, Kylie Rogers and Kyle Harrison Breitkopf, who play Harper, Minx and Henry, respectively, don’t have those issues. Harper starts off the series — Abby is one of the most adorable kids I’ve seen on TV. Once the show expands with more characters, she’s not on-screen as often, and I wish that wasn’t the case.

There’s a lot to like about this show. The mystery and intrigue keep ratcheting up at every turn. And every so often, there’s a surprising reveal that will keep you drawn in. I’ve posed quite a few questions in this review — and most, if not all, of them can’t be answered at this point because at the start of this series, it’s hard to know what’s going to happen next and how everything will tie in. But based on what I have seen so far, I can’t wait to see it all unfold. I just hope that whatever the end result is doesn’t disappoint. The show might not get a lot of attention or have the highest ratings, but it’ll still be a fun show to watch during the summer.

Will you be tuning in to The Whispers? Have the TV promos intrigued you? Is there any cast member in particular you’re looking forward to seeing?

The Whispers premieres Monday, June 1 at 10pm on ABC.

(Image and video courtesy of ABC)

Jeff Dodge

Staff Writer, BuddyTV

Jeff Dodge, a graduate of Western Washington University, has been a TV news editor for many years and has had the chance to interview multiple reality show stars, including Randy Jackson, Nick Cannon, Heidi Klum, Mel B and John Cena.