What We’re Watching: “Hostages”

It’s now closer to midterms than summer vacation, and we know you’re looking for study break. To help you pick the right show, Hatchet reporter Eric Robinson takes a look at some of the season’s most promising pilots.


Airtime: Mondays, 10 p.m., CBS

Names you’ll know: Dylan McDermott (The Practice, American Horror Story), Toni Collette (United States of Tara, Little Miss Sunshine)

Premise: After being tasked with operating on the President of the United States, Dr. Ellen Sanders (Toni Collette) and her family is taken hostage by rogue FBI Agent Duncan Carlisle (Dylan McDermott) and ordered to murder the President or have her entire family killed.

Watch if you liked: 24, The Event

Overall grade: D+

“Hostages” wants to be the new “Homeland;” a modern, serialized thriller that presents complex characters duking it out in psychological mind games with deadly consequences. Like any high concept show, it seems doomed for failure, with the direction lacking urgency and intensity. In short, “Hostages” is an absolute bore.

With talent such as Dylan McDermott (Carlisle) and Toni Collette (Sanders) and a premise that is inherently nail-biting, you’d think that “Hostages” would have no problem being a high stakes thriller. Creator Jeffrey Nachmanoff’s pilot script has the potential for a tight, tension-driven plot, but fails to develop any of the central characters and lacks the power necessary for this drama to work.

It also doesn’t help that the plot is predictable, delving into familiar character tropes from a pregnant teen to a rebellious son with blissfully unaware parents to make up a struggling-yet-relatable All-American family.

Collette, whose character is supposed to seem brave as she attempts to undermine the hostage takers, comes across as reckless because she wastes time distracting them, apparently forgetting every minute that her family is being held hostage at gunpoint. All this time, McDermott’s villain sits onscreen without dimension, his actions having no weight due to a lack of context and meaning.

“Hostages” could possibly improve beyond this shoddily executed pilot, but a lack of initiative in advancing the main plot and an insulting predictable final twist at the episode’s end make this series seem more like a failed, drawn-out summer blockbuster flop than a show that keeps you on the edge of your seat.

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