In the US: Sundays, 9/8c, NBC
In the UK: Thursdays, 9pm, Watch. Starts March 27th
There used to be a time when I'd look forward to a show that had the name JJ Abrams attached. Even to this day, Felicity has its fans and although Alias went to seed in the second season, it was a real gamechanger and made Jennifer Garner’s career. Lost cemented Abrams' reputation, even if he had minimum involvement with it, as did Fringe - at least in some quarters.
But largely, Abrams’ reputation rests on those shows - and it’s a foundation of sand. Look over his CV, and even if you discard the pilots he made that never saw the light of day, such as The Catch, Anatomy of Hope and Shelter, you’ll see he’s mainly produced turkey after turkey. Remember Six Degrees, Undercovers, and Alcatraz? Almost Human wasn’t exactly a tour de force, and if you’re still watching either Revolution or Person of Interest, you have my sympathies.
So now I approach any TV show with Abrams’ name attached with a fair degree of caution. To a certain extent, that’s because Abrams’ playbook has become quite clear. He stocks up the pilot with a sci-fi or fantasy scenario, fills it full of random mysteries and questions that must be answered, adds a secret organisation with answers to these mysteries of the in-world universe that have no implications at all in the real world, adds in a few ‘wow’ moments, a few martial arts fights and then, over the course of the series, slowly ekes them out, adds more mysteries, before finally revealing the largely unsatisfying answers. Not always, but that’s usually how it goes, assuming they don’t get cancelled before they’ve had a chance to reveal all.
So behold Believe, Abrams’ latest show in which a mysterious organisation led by Agent Dale Cooper (sorry, Kyle MacLachlan) is hunting down a young girl with secret powers over pigeons. Yes, pigeons. Oh, she can do other things, too, like predict the future and read minds. How? Good question. She just can and she might change the world as a result, so the baddies want to control her.
However, there’s another secret organisation led by Delroy Lindo that wants to protect her. So they bust a wrongly convicted death row prisoner (Jake McLaughlin from the TV version of Crash) out of jail and put him in charge of protecting her… for the rest of his life. Not the best idea in the world, you might think, so why have they done that? Well, that’s a mystery. Kind of. But it all revolves faith and belief.
It sounds a bit rubbish, it is a bit rubbish, and with yet another central mystery of no real-world import, a secret organisation, etc, you’d be forgiven for thinking this was Abrams working by numbers. But, actually, it’s Alfonso Cuarón (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Children of Men, Gravity) and Mark Friedman (The Forgotten) who are the creative forces behind it, so despite its Abrams-ness, there are a few quirks to it you might not have been expecting.
Like that it’s deliberately silly to the extent that the main baddie is worried she won’t be home in time for her mum’s birthday with all the child-hunting she’s got to do.
Here’s a trailer. It'll tell you the answer to at least one of the mysteries mentioned above.
Continue reading "Review: Believe (NBC/Watch) 1x1"
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