TV Recap: Hostages, Series Premiere

Hostages-1-sheet_epws__130717170959-575x851

Plot: The family of a doctor (Toni Collete), who will be doing surgery on the United States President (James Naughton), is taken hostage by a rogue FBI agent (Dylan McDermott). She is ordered by the kidnappers to assassinate the President in order to save her family.

You know a show is bad when you’re rooting for the guys with guns to execute their hostages.

Yes, CBS’s Hostages which was being touted as one of the top new shows in the fall season, is a poorly written thriller that has absolutely no tension and terrible character development.

We’re supposed to care about the family of top surgeon Dr. Ellen Sanders, the woman who is about to perform a major surgery on POTUS himself. The family in question includes a two-timing fraud of a husband (Tate Donovan), a shady son (Mateus Ward) who’s in debt to a drug dealer and an unreasonably dramatic and bitchy daughter (Quinn Shephard). I get it, the flaws of the family are going to be fodder for future episodes. However, I hated, I repeat hated all three of these characters. They are all selfish, ugly and unlikeable people. When Dylan McDermott’s henchman threaten to shoot the familt I audibly said, “Just do it already.”

As the matriarch of the family, Toni Collette, who I enjoy as an actress, is just as annoying as her family. Collette employs the same weak, non-disciplanarian, almost on the verge of tears mother that she’s played in The Way Way Back, Little Miss Sunshine and countless other films.

The one character I did like? Dylan McDermott’s rogue federal agent Agent Duncan Carlisle. Who comes out with names for these CBS dramas? They’re all awful names that no human being has. McDermott is just a really good actor and his dual personality charisma of being both a legit tough guy and someone with a soul really shines here. He makes Carlisle a multi-dimensional character despite being given a very schmaltzy and predictable backstory (his wife is dying of cancer and his involvement in the President’s murder will somehow help her situation or the situation of his family).

From a writing standpoint Hostages shoots itself in the foot in the first episode. Yes, outside of terrible character development and zero suspense, they tell us who is behind the conspiracy to assassinate the President. Seriously! How can you give away such an important plot point so early in the game and do it in such a nonchalant manner?

Hostages, at least to this reviewer, is a show that’s been produced to capitalize on the popularity of Showtime’s mega-hit political thriller Homeland. Hostages, in theory, should tap into your sense of paranoia, should tantalize your morality and should keep you guessing until the very end just like Homeland. But instead, we’re given a very boring, very sanitized thriller that reminds one more of last season’s forgettable series The Mob Doctor and not a show that’s won a slew of awards and has a diehard following in the millions.

One has to imagine that Hostages should get better as the series unfolds. However, this pilot left such a bad taste in my mouth, that I will not be around to find out if it does. In fact, I’m really annoyed that I skipped NBC’s The Blacklist to watch this show. Thank God for DVR.

Bill Bodkin is the owner, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break. Most importantly, however, he is the proud father of a beautiful daughter, Sophie. He can be seen regularly on the site reviewing The Walking Dead, Doctor Who, and is the host of the site's podcast, The BreakCast. He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English. Follow him on Twitter: @BodkinWrites