It has taken me some time to figure out the appeal of The Pretender. Never watched it when it was on network; seemed like a Fugitive ripoff. Now that it's on early and in syndication, I catch snatches now and again as I'm channel-surfing for the weather.
Sadism is the show's appeal. Every episode, Jared assumes a new identity, and finds new evil-doers. They're inevitably co-workers or associates. Jared finds out that they've hurt, killed, or screwed someone, preferably killed them. Jared then sets up the evil-doer so she or he is faced with the same fate as their victim. Then, when the evil-doer has taken the bait and walked into the trap, Jared tortures them. "Do you think this is what poor Sally felt when the flames were surrounding her? Do you? Huh?" Meanwhile, the fireman, cop, contractor, whomever, is stuck in some fashion, handcuffs can do, but it's just as good to have them stuck in a machine or hanging off a building, and is about to have a building go up in flames or collapse on top of them, or roll off a precipice. The evil-doer now begs for help, because it looks like they're about to die. "Help. HELP! I'm going to die here!"
Jared smiles his malevolent smile, and continues to torture them. Inevitably, they admit their crime, "yes, YES! I did it. I didn't mean to, but the money was good, it was me or them, I couldn't die, go to jail, be in debt, what have you!" Jared then waits a little, just for justice sake, then gives them a painful way out. Meanwhile, the person's associates were around the corner, or listening on a radio, or watching the matter. The evil-doer is safe, sort of, for the moment, but his victims now know the truth and can look for justice if they so choose.
Jared, meanwhile, savors his little victory with a slightly less malevolent smile, proceeds to leave, and is about to be caught by the annoying woman or syndicate or whomever is after them, preferably all three. One of them catches Jared, but a character unique to the episode intervenes, Jared escapes, and the pursuers end up looking at each other.
And The Pretender moves on.
It's one evil show. I don't want an avenging angel like Jared working for me.