Review: Crisis 1×1 (NBC)

<strong>Hostages</strong> with a better Dermot

Crisis NBC

In the US: Sundays, 10/9c, NBC

Normally, you can rely on two things in life: CBS to do action well, and NBC to do action badly. There is a CBS Action channel; there is no NBC Action channel.

So works the universe. Or so I thought.

Colour me surprised, therefore, by NBC’s latest action show, Crisis, which not only is good in its own right but is also better than CBS’s very similar Hostages. It even has a better Dermot in it (Dermot Mulroney rather than Dylan McDermott).

As with Hostages before it, it sees a family abducted in order to force a very important person to do some things they wouldn’t normally do. Here, though, Crisis ups the ante somewhat by having a whole coach load of VIPs’ children abducted and those VIPs then getting forced to do things they wouldn’t normally do. Trying to stop the baddies is FBI agent Rachael Taylor (666 Park Avenue, Charlie’s Angels), newbie secret service agent Lance Gross (Tyler Perry’s House of Payne) and Taylor’s sister, CEO and parent Gillian Anderson (The X-Files, The Fall, Hannibal).

And although it’s prone to silliness in much the same way as another NBC action hit, The Blacklist, on the whole it’s smart enough and interesting enough that I’m looking forward to the next episode.

To bring the most powerful people in the world to their knees… threaten what they hold most dear.

It’s field trip day for the students of Ballard High, a school that educates the children of Washington, D.C.’s elite, top-of-their-industry CEOs, international diplomats, political power players, even the President’s son. But when their bus is ambushed on a secluded rural road, the teenagers and their chaperones are taken, igniting a national crisis.

Now, with some of the country’s most powerful parents at the mercy of one vengeful mastermind, the question arises: How far would you go and what would you become to ensure your child’s safe return? With so many parents and dignitaries put into play with nowhere to turn and no one to trust, the unthinkable grows from the select families at risk to an entire nation at stake.

“Crisis” stars Gillian Anderson (“The X-Files”), Dermot Mulroney (“August: Osage County”), Lance Gross (“House of Payne”), Rachael Taylor (“666 Park Avenue”), James Lafferty (“One Tree Hill”), Max Martini (“Pacific Rim”), Halston Sage (“Neighbors”), Stevie Lynn Jones (“Runaways”), Max Schneider (“How to Rock”), Michael Beach (“Insidious: Chapter 2”) and Joshua Erenberg (“Suburgatory”).

The series was created by executive producer and writer Rand Ravich (“Life”). Far Shariat (“I Love You Phillip Morris,” “Life”) and Phillip Noyce (“The Giver,” “Salt”) also serve as executive producers. Noyce also directed the pilot. “Crisis” is a production of 20th Century Fox Television.

Is it any good?
I was surprised. It’s nothing outstanding and you’ll hope that most of the kids are dead by the end of the series, but it was a decent first episode with enough twists and turns to keep you engrossed.

The show tries to play at two levels: for the younger viewers, there’s a bunch of annoying, attractive teenagers who get to whine and emote through their relationship issues while in captivity; for the adults, there’s a plot that isn’t quite like anything they’ll have seen before (Hostages included), a surprisingly decent cast, including Max Martini (The Unit) as one of the kidnappers, Mark Valley (Human Target) as the head of the CIA, Arnold Vosloo (24, The Mummy) as a powerful foreign parent and David Andrews (Pulaski) as a secret service agent, and a bunch of rich kids and parents to hate and get put through the ringer.

First surprise of the day is that (spoiler alert) Dermot Mulroney is the baddie orchestrating it all, intriguingly wandering around like Xander Berkeley in The Booth At The End with a secret playbook of his entire scheme and pretty much everything that’s going to happen. The motivation for all this isn’t quite what you’d think, the things that happen don’t always pan out as you’d expect and the show is well aware of the extent of electronic surveillance in our lives… and its limitations.

But there are many other surprises, with Anderson and Taylor’s relationship a great big ball of bizarreness that keeps on getting more bizarre with every passing minute, for example. What’s the game plan, how the baddies have so much information and other mysteries are all there and I hope the answer’s are satisfying.

Clearly, it’s not aiming for anything much approaching plausibility or verisimilitude – the president’s son and all those rich kids protected by only two SUVs worth of lightly armed secret service agents? The bad guys having their own on-call dentistry department? – but it’s enjoyable, only insults the intelligence minimally and is unusual enough that it might be worth your while trying. Despite the show having shut down for a week to re-film scenes because the series was getting too far away from this pilot episode, I’m cautiously optimistic.


  • Rob Buckley

    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.