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


  • 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.

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