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Series / The Chronicle

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The Chronicle (2001-2002) is a sci-fi TV series based on the News from the Edge novel series by Mark Sumner and developed for television by Silvio Horta. The show follows employees at the tabloid newspaper, the World Chronicle: Tucker Burns, the everyman and latest hiring; Grace Hall, a veteran reporter and multiple alien abductee; Wes Freewald, the staff photographer and proud sci-fi geek; and Donald Stern, the enigmatic editor/owner. Also turning up frequently are Sal, a Pig Man that runs the paper's archives, and Vera, the Sassy Secretary. While everyone thinks they just make up their stories, they always do encounter real monsters and aliens — most of whom turn out to be not as scary as they seem. The show ran for one season of 22 episodes on the Sci Fi Channel.

Provides examples of:

  • A Day in the Limelight: "Pig Boy's Big Adventure," which details Sal's origins.
  • Aborted Arc: Several episodes demonstrated that Donald had a Mysterious Past and that he was not quite what he seemed. When an alien assassin comes for him, he knows why, but the story he gives the staff doesn't pan out. Assuming the writers had answers in mind for this arc, the show's cancellation meant they never got the chance to follow through.
  • Added Alliterative Appeal: The conversation between Donald, Wes, and Tucker, near the beginning of "Pig Boy's Big Adventure" certainly is something superb.
  • Alchemy Is Magic: In "He's Dead, She's Dead," two self-proclaimed alchemists spent their lives trying to figure out a way to beat death. A few people Came Back Wrong as a result of their experiments, becoming mindless and violent. One of the alchemists actually died before the episode - his body later abducted. The dead alchemist is successfully brought back to life and as his old self, but he's then shot by his daughter for playing God.
  • Alien Abduction: Grace claims that she was abducted six times when she was a teenager. She mentions having encountered Spielberg-like aliens, The Greys and a nasty reptilian species. The last one returns to check up on her and other subjects... by removing their brains.
  • All Men Are Perverts: Sal falls into this at times.
    Grace: Did you just grab my ass?
    Sal: What do you want from me? I'm a pig.
  • The Alleged Car: Wes' van in the first two episodes starts out bad and gets progressively worse. By the end of the second episode, Donald has it towed to a dump just to end the embarrassment. He does replace it with a much better car, though.
  • The Antichrist: Referenced in the pilot, as Graces comes back from an interview and calls him "Full of crap." A few episodes later, baby Julian in "Baby Got Back" is an on-screen example - being possessed by one of the Devil's foot soldiers.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: Tucker in the pilot. He just can't bring himself to believe anything, even after Donald shows him the archive room. Of course, this plays a part in his Foreshadowing.
  • Ascended Fanboy: In "The King is (Un)Dead," Tucker gets to investigate a story about his childhood hero - Elvis Presley. He delightfully geeks out as much as Wes does about sci-fi shows.
  • Audience Surrogate: Tucker
  • Badass Boast: The end of "Touched by an Alien," Donald tells his informant to spread a message to all his contacts:
    "You let them know that those bastards sent their best mercenary out for me, and I sent it back to them... in a jar. You tell them that Donald Stern is packing heat, and I'm not afraid to use it."
  • Bittersweet Ending: See Cliffhanger
    • "Bermuda Love Triangle": The two undersea lovers are reunited and happy together, but the episode ends with Tucker, Wes, Sal and Grace pondering their own relationship failures.
    • "Hot From the Oven": The staff overcomes a cursed oven and ensures it will never hurt anyone again, but they were unable to save its last victim.
  • Black and Nerdy: Wes. His apartment is full of sci-fi memorabilia.
  • Blessed with Suck: In "Take Me Back," an alien tells Grace that her brain has a unique bio-chemical structure, which might explain why she's a multiple abductee.
  • Bluff the Imposter: An old man switches bodies with Tucker in "Only The Young Die Good." As the staff notices "Tucker"'s increasingly weird behavior, the real Tucker shows up. Tucker himself proves very Genre Savvy, asking questions only the real one would know.
  • Brain Bleach: In "Touched by an Alien," while searching for a body surfing alien, the trio arrive at a hotel hosting a swingers convention. Tucker and Grace may be a bit unnerved by what they see, but that's nothing compared to when Wes finds his parents there.
    "I think I need to wash my skull out with soap... good soap."
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Sal
    Donald: He's a smart guy, but a lazy pig.
  • Cliffhanger: "A Snitch in Time" ends the series on one. Grace falls for a man from the future and apart of a temporal witness projection. She leaves with him when he is relocated to 1945. Meanwhile, a Jerkass cop long suspicious of Donald storms the building and intends to detain the staff for questioning.
  • Conspiracy Kitchen Sink: Everything they write about in tabloids is true.
  • Covered in Gunge: Just about Once an Episode, someone gets slimed.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Wes has a tool for every occasion with him, to the point that someone just has to ask him for "Those wirecutters" and he immediately pulls out the right ones.
  • Dawson Casting: In Universe Example. In "The Stepford Cheerleaders," Tucker, Grace and Wes have to go undercover as high schoolers for a story. Tucker points out the implausibility of this, but Grace and Wes respond by invoking Beverly Hills, 90210.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: A number of the monsters. The creature in the pilot is rather benign once you get to know him. He's even the spiritual leader of the galaxy.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: In "Take Me Back", Grace's alien abduction experiences play an awfully lot like sexual assault. Tucker actually gets accused of doing just that when the police bust in on him and Grace recreating an experience as part of a therapy technique.
  • Elvis Impersonator: In "The King is (Un)Dead," Tucker and Wes go undercover to a convention in the hopes of getting a photograph of the real Elvis. It turns out they're vampires.
  • Elvis Lives: Like a series about a tabloid wouldn't try this plot. In "The King is (Un)Dead," the staff is out to get a photograph of the real Elvis, though they don't know for sure he is still alive. Throws in a few twists, including vampires and a strong implication that Elvis' presumed-stillborn twin, Jessie Garon, is the vampire hunter.
  • E.T. Gave Us Wi-Fi: Aliens created the Internet, according to the pilot episode.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: In "Baby Got Back," Wes takes baby Julian to the park, where every dog that passes by starts barking uncontrollably. Wes finds the first instance of this very suspicious.
  • Fake Guest Star: Sal and Vera.
  • False Rape Accusation: Tucker reveals that the reason no other newspaper or magazine will hire him is because, back in journalism school, he was approached by a girl claiming her professor molested her. He started an investigation, and then another girl approached him claiming the same thing. Concluding he had enough evidence, he wrote an article slamming the guy. The professor lost his job, his marriage, etc. And then it's revealed that the two girls were lying because the professor gave them bad grades. Not only did this not help the professor, but it also cost Tucker his career.
  • Foreshadowing: The pilot strongly hints something in Tucker's background keeps him from getting a job anywhere else. His then-girlfriend even warns him about being manipulated. It's later revealed that he did a story in college about a teacher taking advantage of a co-ed. Tucker thought it was the truth when another co-ed came forward, but the "witnesses" were only out to mess with the teacher and lied. When the truth came out, Tucker became a joke in journalism circles.
  • Formerly Fat: Wes according to "I See Dead Fat People."
  • "Friends" Rent Control: Wes' apartment is pretty large for a tabloid photographer. As he explains it, "Rent control."
  • Friendship Moment: Following his break-up with his girlfriend from the first episode, Tucker winds up staying in a rat hole apartment building. Seeing this, Wes immediately invites him to be his roommate.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Sal.
  • Good Parents: Wes' parents. They're just as big sci-fi fans as he is, even taking him to see The Empire Strikes Back - nine times. They also overwhelmingly support his working at the tabloid (whereas Grace's mother doesn't and Tucker is certain his parents wouldn't). They do have one vice - swinging, which they had been doing since before Wes was born. Wes is naturally freaked out when he finds out, but he realizes that's their personal life and that it doesn't change how they raised him.
  • The Greys: One's body has been in the Archives since a certain crash in 1947. Grace also says she was abducted by them. According to her, they're more friendly in comparison to some other species.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Sal obviously, but "Pig Boy's Big Adventure" shows even more hybrids are out there. (For the record, they're 60% human and 40% whatever other animal in question.)
    • In "Here There Be Dragons," a woman gives birth to a baby that's half-dragon. Subverted when the father turns out to be a human suffering from Ichthyosis and was faking dragon sightings to scare people away. Only the woman knew the truth.
  • Happily Adopted: Sal was raised by a farming couple, who he regards as his parents.
  • Haunted Fetter: "Hell Mall." Personal objects are brought to the mall, stirring the ghosts of (often violent) mental patients. Ghosts start appearing in the mall and possessing people (including Tucker ultimately), with others usually being harmed in the process.
  • Haunted House: "I See Dead Fat People" has a weight loss center haunted by those killed in a Sauna of Death. One of the ghosts is able to follow Tucker and Wes around.
  • Headless Horseman: The Headless Biker from Hell in "Bring Me The Head of Tucker Burns".
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Tucker and Wes
  • Hidden Depths: Donald is fluent in Italian, not too shabby with German and knows how to perform an exorcism.
  • Historical In-Joke: The Native Americans sold Manhattan to the European settlers because there was a monster living underground there.
    • Subverted in "A Snitch in Time." While Tucker and Wes wonder what time Grace and her boyfriend have gone to, they pass by a store window displaying the famous V-J Day in Times Square photograph. The episode makes it seem like the kissing couple is actually them, but another shot shows them only observing it.
  • Hollywood Exorcism: The staff attempts one in "Baby Got Back" to save baby Julian. Donald reluctantly leads the effort. They're interrupted by the cult before they can finish.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: The hybrid creatures in "Pig Boy's Big Adventure" really despise humans due to what they've experienced throughout their lives. Sal begins to question humanity, but snaps back when he witnesses the hybrids kill the doctor that experimented on them.
  • I Choose to Stay: Events in "Pig Boy's Big Adventure" make Sal rather resentful of his life at the tabloid and consider joining hybrid creatures he's learned of. However, they prove to be too savage for him by murdering the scientist who experimented on them. Pig Boy is disgusted, but the real reason he goes back to the tabloid?
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Tucker quickly recognizes the tabloid's stories are true, but early on, he kept trying to find the kind of "human interest" stories he used to report on. Adapting to the tabloid and honing the required instincts took a little time.
  • I'm a Doctor, Not a Placeholder: In "Baby Got Back," Donald initially objects to performing the exorcism on baby Julian.
    "We are a newspaper; we're not the Vatican!"
  • Intrepid Reporter: Tucker and Grace are the reporters, while Wes is the photographer.
  • Ironic Hell: In "Touched by an Alien," the staff has to deal with an alien assassin after Donald that possesses people and can move from body-to-body by having sex. The alien soon takes over Grace, but needs to take over Sal to get to Donald. As alien!Grace puts on the moves, Sal learns the truth and (much to his irritation) realizes he can't go through with it.
    "I'm in Hell!"
  • Kick the Dog: In "Pig Boy's Big Adventure," after Sal is told his biological parents are still alive:
    "Does it matter? They wanted a healthy baby, not a pig boy."
    • In "The Mists of Avalon Parkway," a young boy named Victor is constantly getting harassed and picked on by everyone around him. Said people wind up getting killed by a fog monster, who is reacting to Victor's repressed emotions. To get it to stop, Victor has to stop repressing, which unfortunately requires Tucker to taunt the boy and even blame him for his mother's death in a car accident.
  • Maternally Challenged: In "Baby Got Back," a baby abandoned at the tabloid office winds up in Grace's care. She had earlier flat-out stated that she didn't think she was ready for motherhood and objected to bringing children into the world as it is. Nonetheless, she demonstrated some Hidden Depths.
  • Mission Control: Sal oversees the Archives and consequently does background research for many stories.
  • Mistaken for Gay: Tucker and Wes in "Tears of a Clone" by Grace's mother.
  • Mysterious Past: Donald. He was once a legitimate newsman and well-regarded in the industry, but he disappeared for about five years. No one knows what happened to him, but when he came back, he started publishing the tabloid. One episode sees Wes and Vera try to get to the bottom of it and do learn one secret that Donald doesn't want anyone to ever learn: the date of his birthday.
  • Odd Friendship: Grace and Sal form one following being locked in an elevator overnight in "Bermuda Love Triangle."
  • Our Zombies Are Different: The undead in "He's Dead, She's Dead." They're being revived by alchemist experiments, but they looked pale and behave (at best) primitively. Part of the experiments was finding out how to revive people without these drawbacks, and it was trial and error.
  • Pig Man: Sal, a heroic hacker pigman. His spotlight episode reveals it was the result of a risky transplant operation when he was a baby. Sal needed a kidney transplant, but was stuck on a waiting list for over a year. His parents turned to a doctor who used animal parts in operations, which led to his porcine features.
  • Properly Paranoid: Detective Garibaldi questions how Tucker, Grace and Wes keep getting involved in his cases (which include murder and disappearances) and thinks he can find answers by investigating them.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: In "The Mists of Avalon Parkway," Tucker and Grace demonstrate increasing passive aggressive behavior towards each other. (Who deserves credit for a story, who's in charge, etc.) When it boils over, they trade back-and-forth insults over their personal faults. Sick of their nonsense, Wes interrupts to deliver one to both of them and basically tells them to get over their crap.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Donald.
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: One of the species that abducted Grace was reptilian. She refers to them as the meanest and worst of the lot.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: The ghost in "Let Sleeping Dogs Fry" kills husbands and a sheriff in a rich neighborhood, as revenge for his death at their hands.
  • Sassy Secretary: Vera
  • Sauna of Death: In "I See Dead Fat People," Tucker and Wes investigate a former weight-loss clinic where four people were killed in this fashion. As the duo unravel who was responsible, they nearly suffer the same fate and need a vengeful ghost's help to survive.
  • Seers: The tabloid employs one for horoscopes. The first is Ruby, but by the end of the season, she's replaced with Esperanza.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: In "Take Me Back," after years of having coped just fine, Grace begins experiencing violent and horrifying flashbacks of her abductions along this kind of trope.
  • Shout-Out: In "Touched by an Alien," a staffer pitches a story about a government-sponsored Invisible Man.
    • "The King is (Un)Dead" features several references to Elvis' music and movies.
  • The Unreveal: In "Tears of a Clone," an alien race clones Grace and intends for the clone to take her place. Things go wrong in the swap, leaving the clone exposed and her memories damaged. The aliens clean up the mess before the staff can learn what the clone's purpose was.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: "Only The Young Die Good" doesn't give an indication that anyone besides Tucker got their bodies back, despite a couple of the victims being shown earlier in the episode.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: In "Pig Boy's Big Adventure," Sal learns that Donald wasn't entirely upfront about his origins and what he was told was actually a lie.
    "I think I'm allowed to cash in a spaz attack on this one!"
    • Same episode after the hybrids violently turn against the one who experimented on them, Sal is disgusted by their savageness and refuses to go with them.
      "I'm not the animal you think I am."
  • Where Does He Get All Those Wonderful Toys?: Radio Shack. Wes has a line of credit there.
  • Whole Episode Flashback: "Take Me Back" opens with the police arresting Tucker, who was wearing an alien suit and re-enacting one of Grace's abductions. As the police detain him for questioning, flashback scenes are shown explaining how and why Tucker got into that position, as well as detailing Grace's past encounters with aliens and her feelings about it.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: In "Hot From the Oven," a cursed oven traps people in a void and makes them experience their worst fears. Wes faces a Monster Clown based on a traumatic birthday, Grace struggles with her abductions keeping her from getting close to anyone, and Tucker has to deal with failing to save everyone.
  • Wire Dilemma: Subverted in "Man and Superman." Wes thinks he has mere seconds to cut the right wire in a bomb hidden in a closet, but Tucker and Grace stop him—pulling aside some clothes covering the countdown clock. It turns out they got there an hour before the antagonist intended to set off the bomb.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: The ghosts in "I See Dead Fat People." They were killed in a Sauna of Death by an abusive doctor pushing them well-past healthy measures to lose weight. One of the victims was scapegoated as the murderer and spent years haunting the property to try to get people to investigate what really happened. And of course, when the ghosts get their chance, they nearly kill their killer.
    • The bionic cheerleader in "The Stepford Cheerleaders." She was injured in a car accident and given implants to survive, but she sees herself as a freak and has very violent mood swings.
  • The World Is Not Ready: In "He's Dead, She's Dead," Donald admits that he wants the tabloid to be seen with legitimacy, but nonetheless insists on keeping their secrets from the world. He says that people are just not yet ready, but will be one day.
  • Written-In Absence: Donald is said to be out of town in "Bring Me The Head Of Tucker Burns" and "I See Dead Fat People."