TV Review - Hostages

Like with HBO's In Treatment and Showtime's Homeland, this new series on CBS is based on an Israeli television series. It's yet another adaptation of a foreign concept. Toni Collette stars as Dr. Ellen Sanders, the surgeon who is chosen to operate on the President of the United States. Her family is held hostage and personally threatened death if Ellen doesn't kill the President in surgery.

Dylan McDermott co-stars as Duncan Carlyle, a FBI agent who is a rather cynical hostage negotiator who becomes the lead bad guy who takes Ellen's family prisoner. It seems as if McDermott is playing the same character he played in Olympus Has Fallen, possibly mixed with his character in American Horror Story: Asylum.

The question here, as it was the question in Olympus Has Fallen, is why is McDermott's character doing what he's doing. I didn't feel like an answer, a proper answer, was given in that movie. Some semblance of an answer is being suggested here. Duncan might be threatening Ellen because he's being threatened. He might be holding her hostage because in a way he's being held hostage.

The fact that the goal is to kill the President narrows the motives. I doubt that Duncan is doing it for the money. If so, that would be insufficient. It could be a situation like Homeland, but if that's the case, then that would make it too derivative.

What would have been more interesting is if the President were black. Post Barack Obama's election, TV series like Homeland, House of Cards and Scandal have decided not to make the President an African-American. Yet, if this show had made the President a black man, then it could have capitalized off the racist and violent echoes in organizations like the Tea Party that suggested slightly the assassination of Barack Obama. It could have been a perfect and compelling, red herring, but sadly the writers here are not that bold or brave.

Each of Ellen's family members, her husband, her teenage daughter and teenage son, all have their secrets and private agendas. Each make weird connections with various members of Duncan's team. The son in particular somewhat bonds with Kramer, played by Rhys Coiro (A Gifted Man and Entourage). Nevertheless, at the core, this show is all about deconstructing Duncan, while Ellen is scared and nervous consistently.

Two Stars out of Five.
Rated TV-14-SV.
Running Time: 1 hr.
Mondays at 10PM on CBS.


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