Preview: The Nine

The Nine

In the US: Wednesday, 10pm, ABC. Starting in the fall.

In the UK: Not yet acquired (the bidding continues)

We talked on Friday and yesterday about how US networks like to copy the success of other networks’ shows by making their own, slightly altered versions. What should also be remarked upon is that networks that have a hit on their hands like to try to repeat the success with variations on the same theme.

So it is with ABC, home of Lost, which would really rather like to have another Lost-scale hit on its hands. The network’s first attempt to emulate Lost‘s success is The Nine, an everyday story of a bank robbery gone wrong. I say first, because I just don’t think it’s going to go the distance

The plot

It’s a regular day for all manner of dull people who we don’t care about, played by the supporting cast of better shows. John Billingsley (Enterprise, Prison Break) wants to get a loan for a yacht to make his wife love him. Kim Raver (24) needs to meet her mother to discuss a brooch. A cop (Tim Daly from Wings) has a crush on a girl. So they all converge on a local bank, managed by Chi McBride (Chicago Hope, House), to go about their business.

Unfortunately, it’s the same day that two brothers, one an ex-marine, decide they should rob that bank. It all goes wrong and after 52 hours of hostage negotiations, the police storm in and end the siege.

But that’s just the beginning of the story. Everyone’s been changed by the experience. Billingsley was going to kill himself before the siege but now has a new love of life. McBride is shell-shocked but his daughter can’t even remember the siege. Two of the hostages embark on an affair. One is pregnant but no longer wants to tell her husband. And they’ve all become friends with one of the robbers.

What happened during those 52 hours and why are the nine who survived the siege so changed and united by its events?

The flashbacks

We, of course, don’t know. But over the course of the series, we’re going to find out. Each episode will begin with a 10-minute flashback to the events of the siege that will (hopefully) show us what happened during the siege. Given it lasted 52 hours, that’s 312 possible flashbacks, which is at least 13 seasons of episodes. Let’s hope some dull things happened too, or we’re never going to find out.

The question is, will we want to? It’s as though ABC took one look at Lost, asked itself what made Lost so popular, and decided it was purely the soapy elements that made the show what it is today. And here’s the result.

Worse still, none of the characters are particularly interesting. None of those characters’ situations is anything less than formulaic. Even the normally magnetic Chi McBride is cooking with sparklers instead of gas.

So I don’t think this is going to last more than a season unless something really good happens in the first two or three episodes. Tis a shame, but there you go.

Final verdict: One to avoid unless you want to get sucked in to a rather dull soap opera for no good reason.

If you’d like to find out more and watch a trailer, you can do so at the ABC web site.


  • I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.