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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    NBC premiers poor drama series

    NBC Universal Media

Pictured: (l-r) Trieste Kelly Dunn as Agent Ferrell, Matthew Rauch as Agent Martin -- (Photo by: David Giesbrecht/NBC)
    NBC Universal Media Pictured: (l-r) Trieste Kelly Dunn as Agent Ferrell, Matthew Rauch as Agent Martin — (Photo by: David Giesbrecht/NBC)

    Earlier this month, NBC premiered two new dramas, both of which have much left to be desired: “Crisis,” which is three episodes in, and “Believe,” which is four.

    “Crisis” is a poorly executed drama about a Washington D.C. hostage situation where the teenaged children of the most powerful parents in the world, including the president of the U.S., are taken for ransom.

    Good television doesn’t have to be realistic, but it has to at least make sense in the context of what’s happening. The premise of the show is that these prestigious teens, on an average yellow school bus, are kidnapped on their way to build houses for the poor.

    The bus driver’s route of choice is not the I-95, but rather a seemingly abandoned dirt road. Remember, the son of the president is on this bus. Not-shockingly at all, the bus is hijacked, and the Secret Service is involved. Once the kids have been kidnapped, the mastermind behind this blackmails all the parents, turning them into criminals.

    While it’s heavy on star power, with Gillian Anderson and Dermot Mulroney in key roles, the show basically amounts to nothing. It cares little for character development, choosing instead to jump headfirst into an elaborate plot. The show strives to explore the sacrifices and poor decisions that parents make in order to save their children. However, it offers no reason to care about any of the characters, killing the show’s emotional impact.

    Grantland’s TV critic Andy Greenwald believes much the same.
    “‘Crisis’ spends so much time constructing a complicated world that it forgets to populate it with anyone worth watching,” Greenwald said. “Say what you will about the ticking clock and the polar bear but, 10 years later, people are still talking about Jack Bauer and Sawyer. I couldn’t remember a single character on ‘Crisis’ after 10 minutes.”

    While the show overflows with twists, it lacks substance. It tries to appeal to all audiences by featuring characters in a number of different situations — rich kids, affluent parents, sister-sister conflict and father-daughter conflict. But the show fails to say anything definitive about any of them. “Crisis” delivers thrills, but they’re set up poorly and the sheer volume of them lessens the dramatic effect.

    “Believe” is the narrative of a young child named Bo (Johnny Sequoyah) who has telepathic abilities. Her protector, Tate (Jake McLaughlin), is a wrongly convicted murderer who’s broken out of death row by an organization responsible for protecting individuals with supernatural abilities.

    A geneticist named Roman Skouras (Kyle MacLachlan), who wants to control Bo’s powers, chases them with assassins who break the necks of civilians and light gas stations on fire. It’s good versus evil fighting over a magic girl.

    The show had a good amount of hype and momentum coming in because of who is attached to it. JJ Abrams is an executive producer, while “Gravity” director Alfonso Cuaron is, unfortunately, credited as a creator. They’re both dreamers and have excelled in this kind of genre. The show is interesting in that it’s a risk, given its flimsy premise.

    Abrams has never shied away from these kinds of projects, but Cuaron has. He only works sparingly and everything he does is good. Cuaron is lucky that “Believe” premiered after voting for the March 2 Academy Awards had already ended.

    Development and production for “Believe” were a mess, as two show runners were fired because nobody could agree on what the show was actually going to be about.

    The backstage chaos comes to fruition on-screen, as the plot is slow developing and not that interesting. Like “Crisis,” it also fails to make sense at times, and lacks attention to detail. Because the creative process was such a disaster, the writing and storytelling have suffered immensely.

    Cuaron directed the pilot, which made the show infinitely more interesting than it should have been. However, he didn’t direct either of the two episodes that followed and isn’t expected to direct many more. Critics, such as Brian Lowry of Variety, wonder if the show peaked at its pilot.

    “While it’s understandable that NBC would be slightly starstruck over the Abrams-Cuaron pairing (the latter also wrote the pilot, with Mark Friedman), especially with ‘Gravity’s’ success,” Lowry wrote, “if that’s as good as it’s going to get, the network’s faith in ‘Believe’ appears to be misguided.”

    As TV lovers seek out something to watch while they wait for the fourth season of “Game of Thrones,” they should stay far away from NBC’s Sunday night lineup.

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