Third-episode verdict: Crisis (NBC)

The BarrometerA Barrometer rating of 3

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

Three episodes into Crisis and we’ve been through highs and lows. This isn’t because of all the poor like rich kids who have been abducted in order to force their VIP parents to do various things at the behest of the bad guys; it’s because the show has been quite variable.

What saved the first episode from being simply CBS’s Hostages but with more kids and less budget was a degree of intelligence and a slight political edge. As well as showing – within dramatic limits – that the producers had actually thought about how it would be possible for people to kidnap a whole bunch of important kids then evade detection in this surveillance age, Crisis to some extent has had us side with the baddies in wanting to watch the entitled suffer.

To a certain extent this was necessary, since the heroes themselves (Rachael Taylor and Lance Gross) weren’t exactly that interesting. The two episodes since have wisely chosen to focus on the various guest parents of the week (Gillian Anderson, Faran Tahir, Melinda McGraw*) as they’ve been forced to do things by the kidnappers. Indeed, the show has in some ways become 24, but as if Jack Bauer were really dull and only capable of running around a lot and waving his gun and each episode involved him hunting down car salesmen and civil servants.

What kept the show’s head above the water for all this was a degree of intelligence. When it forgot to be intelligent and instead went for downright stupid – the second episode, which saw (spoiler alert) a CIA safe house inside the Pakistani embassy – it became a regular, vanilla, unwatchable NBC action show. Fortunately, episode three restored not only the Occupy Wall Street mentality of the first episode as well as that intelligence, although obviously not to such an extent that you’d truly believe any of this could really happen: highlight of episode three was our black hero being stopped by a black security guard after a black female baddie called to say she’d seen a black man with a gun and she was frightened. It was a sly but complicated musing on racism in the middle of some action that you probably wouldn’t get on CBS.

There are still obviously problems with the plot, the dullness of the heroes and the sheer logistics of it all – if the chief baddie was inspired to take the rich people down because of all their wealth and the fact he couldn’t pay his mortgage, where did he get the cash for this not exactly cheap scheme? And why aren’t his comrades more clued into his motivations? But there’s enough of a spark in each episode that while it’s not exactly perfect, there’s usually something surprising or new that it’ll probably be worth watching the rest of the series.

Barrometer rating: 3
Rob’s prediction: Will last a season but probably not more than that

* I’m enough of an X-Files nerd that I’m chuffed that the First Lady of Crisis is Melinda McGraw, who played Scully’s sister on The X-Files, so I’m hoping for a scene or two featuring both McGraw and Anderson

  • benjitek

    “…the show has in some ways become 24…”

    Total insult to the acting, writing, and production quality of '24', and completely invalidates the review for me. This show doesn't even begin to approach the level of '24'.

  • Then I don't think you understood either that sentence or the review.

  • benjitek

    I understood the sentence, and it would make sense if 'some ways' was replaced with 'no way' 😉

  • You don't think two shows that both have highly, almost impossibly tech-savvy terrorists, both with episodic deadlines, both with members of state law enforcement bodies pursuing the terrorists, both with 'plucky kids' (seasons 1 and 2 only of 24), have nothing in common? Hell, season 1 of 24 had Jack Bauer being blackmailed into trying to assassinate a politician by terrorists who were threatening to kill his family if he didn't.

    I'm not saying Crisis is anywhere near as good – hence the rest of the sentence that you didn't quote – and they're obviously not identical, but there are obvious parallels at the very least.

    And even if you can't spot them, trying Googling “Crisis NBC 24” and see what you get. A quick sprinkling:

    “An excuse for NBC to court the CW demographic in the midst of a “24”-like thriller” (Variety)

    “Crisis starts out almost like a season of 24, but without the ticking clock and without Jack Bauer.” (NPR)

  • benjitek

    Good thing the mini-series of 24 is around the corner, it'll refresh everyone's memories 😉

  • Hopefully, it'll be better than 24: Redemption…

  • benjitek

    Not sure how they even relate, but whatever — I'm sure it'll entertain 🙂