‘Believe’ Series Premiere Review: Don’t Blame Alfonso Cuaron for This Mess

Published 1 year ago by

believe season 1 episode 1 Believe Series Premiere Review: Dont Blame Alfonso Cuaron for This Mess

There is story, somewhere, in NBC’s Believe, as it’s technically one of the requirements for being included in a storytelling medium. What that said tale is, however, still remains to be seen – but if you were to turn to the episode’s description, you’ll know more than those who simply watched the 60-minute series premiere.

Believe follows a girl named Bo (Johnny Sequoyah) who was born with special powers she’s net yet able to control. When her original protection is murdered by an associate of Skouras (Kyle MacLachlan), her other protector, Winter (Delroy Lindo) – who used to be partners with Skouras – seeks the help of a wrongfully convicted death-row inmate, Tate (Jake McLaughlin). With Tate now serving as Bo’s new protection, the two must stay one step ahead of the nefarious forces looking to use her for their own benefit. Now you know the rest of the story.

Let’s get this out of the way, right now: NBC’s Believe is mess. The acting, dialogue, action, pacing and, yes, directing are all painfully awkward and generally laughable. To say that one fully understands what Believe is after watching the premiere, is to say that one can fully appreciate a movie by simply watching its trailer; this, unfortunately, is what Believe’s first installment proved to be, more or less. Of course, there’s no way to talk about Believe without bringing up its creators, Alfonso Cuarón and Mark Friedman, who haven’t exactly had the best experience bringing this show to television.

believe season 1 episode 1 tate Believe Series Premiere Review: Dont Blame Alfonso Cuaron for This Mess

There is a reason why Mark Friedman left the series in July 2013; there’s a reason why Alfonso Cuarón decided to step back and stay on as just “executive producer”; there’s a reason why Dave Erickson – Friedman’s replacement – left the series in December 2013; and there’s a reason why production on the show went on hiatus for over a month. Though we may not know exactly why all of this happened, the results of these decisions can be seen onscreen, and it’s almost impossible to believe that anyone involved in the series will be able to right this upended amalgamation of super powers and daddy drama which, if we’re all being honest, makes the worst season of Heroes look like an award-worthy endeavor.

Nothing is really explained in the premiere, so all of its many characters are, instead, expected to convey their importance by action. Good people do good things, while bad people do bad things – or simply talk on the phone while looking somewhat bad. Tate is more than just a wrongfully accused death row inmate, as the premiere eventually reveals; however without such exposition, there’s no way audiences would have recognized that there’s more to Tate than being a misunderstood brute. Fortunately, there are two saving graces in this series: Bo and Winter.

believe season 1 episode 1 tate bo Believe Series Premiere Review: Dont Blame Alfonso Cuaron for This Mess

Neither Bo nor Winter are above the ridiculousness contained within the premiere, yet the two actors – Sequoyah and Lindo – have an energy about them that helps to carry the weight of the series. What’s actually occurring onscreen may be a confusing and downright poor showing for NBC, but if there’s a reason to you tune in to Believe’s second episode, it’s because of these two. Their positivity – no matter how forced – truly burns away much of the series’ unfortunate elements, leaving at least some reason to hope that the series will eventually find its way.

There’s no doubt that Believe, as conceived by Cuarón and Friedman, is as imaginative as fans all hoped it would be. This is not that show. What we now see is a corporate mind taking over control for the show’s creative soul, and no matter who is picked to replace Cuarón and Friedman – or their successors – there’s no way to replicate the sentiments which led them to stand behind this idea and want to bring it to television.

Is this a failure for Alfonso Cuarón? Yes – and NBC will make sure that you know the Academy Award-winner is involved in this show at every chance. But is he really? After all, Cuarón wrote and directed Gravity ­– a movie so astonishing that everyone wants to know how he made it. With Believe, everyone wants to know why he made it. Perhaps it’s because the story about a hopeful young girl with the powers to impact the world around her is a fascinating concept. Unfortunately, what made it to screen is anything but.

Believe returns next Monday with “Beginner’s Luck” @10pm on NBC.

Follow Anthony Ocasio on Twitter @anthonyocasio
TAGS: Believe
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  1. I wasn’t aware of all the behind the scenes drama but now that I know there was I can better understand why this was so bad.

    The opening sequence was pretty great and you could tell by the way it played out as one long take that it was directed by Cuaron but after that everything got worse scene by scene. The breaking point for me was the scene in the hospital when it seemed any type of critical thought would unravel what was happening.
    Normally I’d try to stick with something with an interesting enough plot longer than one episode to give it a chance to grow but it became apparent pretty quickly that this was a dud.

  2. So basically, it’s NBC’s answer to Agents Of SHIELD then?

    • I thought the show was actually good. I don’t see the comparisons to AoS, as AoS is a Superhero series, and Believe is a Supernatural series.

      I actually enjoyed the acting, and everything that went on in the show. I do fear though, that they might have revealed that the inmate is the little girls father. It would’ve been a really cool build-up, even if some people may have suspected it from it’s showing of the main characters interaction with the girl in the hospital / why Winter chose him to protect her. It’s a real shame, but I do hope this show survives.

      I like the lead actor, and the spunky little super-powered human. I’m tuning in. I don’t understand why they chose to move it to Sunday at 10? Sad about that.

    • They’re nothing alike.

  3. Whether Delroy Lindo portrays a good or bad character I would really like to see him in a show to actually survives as I enjoy his screen presence.

    • Agreed. I’ve been a fan of his since Clockers.

  4. It is unfortunate that I am coming off of watching True Detective, which was a beautiful piece of tv artwork – from the acting, dialogue, direction, and even story. This was truly a mess and cheesy to boot. I will not be watching anymore of this show.

  5. Promising show! Great chemistry between Bo and Tate. The characters are well written, nice balance of humor and action. There are some kinks here and there, but hopefully the next episodes will improve and build upon what is a good start to a show.

  6. It was awful, and it reminded me very much of a really bad version of Touch, and that wasn’t exactly a brilliant show

    • Touch was good until the painful second season.

  7. Really? I actually kind of enjoyed it.

    • Well, Believe that is, not Touch. Never saw it.

  8. The show was actually pretty good. The only thing bad about this show so far is the actor who plays Tate. Not a good actor (so far) The music, story, action, etc. are not bad at all.

    Either way, I think I’m getting to the point where I will not BELIEVE anything Ocasio says. He keeps ripping AoS although it is improving.

  9. It was soooo bad. I’ll give next week’s episode a chance but I won’t waste my time with it after that.

  10. let me guess, this all revolves around ” a chosen one “?

  11. i thought the acting was bland, the fight scene in the warehouse was as bad as kirk and the lizard dude, and the bit with the birds, and the hit-person’s reaction to it [really? just stand there??] were painful. i had no idea that this show was even being made, let alone who was involved, then i read this article, and i have to wonder why nbc even aired it. like revolution before, i’ll pass on this. i have too many shows i like to watch as is and cant find time to watch them all either.

  12. I couldn’t finish reading this review as the write up is a complete mess, so for this person to say the series is a mess is in my opinion double standards. will take my chances with the series as this reviewer cannot even proof read his work, therefore how on earth can I take this review seriously.

    • Oh thank you, thank you for your comment regarding the review. After struggling through the review I also thought this reviewer has no room to talk.

  13. And the worst part is that now NBC has decided to run this against Resurrection.
    Whether this show has a chance to work itself out or not, by placing it in this time slot NBC has given it it’s death notice. It doesn’t stand a chance against the well acted, excellent story line and mystery of Resurrection.

  14. I’m not above the line, but I worked on this show and left it also. It went exactly as the write-up said: a complete train wreck behind the scenes, on so many levels. Creatively and otherwise, with the show-runners, Friedman, et al, bailing. And who can blame them? The concept had some possibilities but all that went out the window pretty fast. It could have been somewhat original and creative, but no, things started circling the drain pretty fast. (BTW, that push in December was not the first one, either – it pushed several times before that, which of course only augmented the problems behind the scenes). What a mess working on that one was! Nobody knew what was happening or what to write.

    Having said that, I enjoyed Cuaron’s directing in the pilot. But Believe me, folks, that’s as good as it’s gonna get!

  15. Maybe I watched some sort of remade pilot. But the repeat of the pilot which aired today conveyed all of the information you woefully complain about missing or needed an episode description for. How did you miss the interplay between Skouras and Winter? Or that Tate is actually Bo’s dad? I can only believe that either the network cut short the first pilot, or your dvr didn’t record it to the end. The series is basically set up for most episodes to center around one person that Bo helps with an over-arcing story playing out between Skouras and Winter. I think the over-arcing story is interesting enough, but I’m unsure how good all of the “filler” stories that will inevitably written will be. I would think people who liked Ghost or similar supernatural shows will like this as well. Despite the main character having super powers, I don’t think I would classify the series as a superhero series like Heros or Agents of Sheild.

  16. All I can say is terrible. Tried to give it another chance in episode two but after ten minutes the show was impossible to bear any longer. Terrible, badly written dialogue. Both the girl and her father are ridiculously written characters. I can’t decide who’s worse; the little girl that is on the run but acts like it’s all a childish game or a father who plays the whining ex-con and is more immature than the daughter. I find myself wanting them to get caught just to shut them up.

    Don’t waste your time watching. Not worth losing an hour of your time.

    • how about you keep your opinion to yourself.

  17. I’m sticking with the show because I like Tate and Bo, but I almost didn’t come back after watching the first episode, and the reason was the heavy makeup they applied to Bo.
    She was wearing dark eyeshadow and dark lipstick. It made me instantly dislike poor Bo, even though I realized it wasn’t her fault. Thankfully the heavy makeup seemingly has disappeared, and I hope it stays that way. What were they thinkng?

  18. I dont know why people talk/write about Believe badly. I just think they should keep their opinions to themselves because some people actually enjoy the show and all of these critics are going to make nbc cancel the show. I mean what if they canceled your favorite show just because some people (that should keep their opinions to themselves)talk bad about it…

  19. Believe is way better than most of the t.v. series passed off as entertaining and interesting. People were crazy over that 24 series. Some guy running around stopping terrorist threats and somehow managing to do it every 60 minutes. Viewers’ lack of imagination and creativity is inextricably reflected in their poor choice of entertainment time and time again; terrorists, explosions, sex, car chases, police , correction facilities reality tv shows and Simon Cowell.

    And secondly, all the ‘hater’ comments about how terrible, or awful or bad the series is just goes to show how judgemental and critical people are. It’s very distasteful. I would love to see some of you put together a tv show and cover all the intricacies that go into making one not excluding convincing a bunch of hating viewers such as yourself that it’s worth watching or maybe you care to share with us what it is you do and the shining examples of success you’ve had doing it (with no failures and blemishes) so that we can properly critique it as you’ve done so easily.

  20. And to think all of the hard work that goes into their jobs is for YOUR entertainment!
    Maybe they should have put Simon Cowell in the lead role as Bo or that dude from 24.

  21. The reviewer has strange incorrect english.

  22. My family & I have watched this show since the beginning & we have come to love it. It is A LOT better then these “Reality” based shows that are nothing but a joke. TV producers need to drop the “Reality” shows and pay attention to actual program watchers. I would rather see more shows like Believe, Resurrection, Defiance, Once Upon a Time, Falling Skies and some of the other shows. Bring back Terra Nova! Just drop the “Reality” Shows like “Real” Housewives of (wherever),The Kardashian’s,The Bachelor & The Bachelorette,Honey BoBO, Tots & Tieras and any of the other Wanna be Reality Jokes. We deal with reality enough in our own lives, why in the world would I want to watch someone else’s reality (or as it truly seems to be, their wanna be reality) life? I DON’T, I have enough going on in my own life, I DO NOT NEED TO WATCH SOMEONE ELSE’S. Why do I want to watch some rich snob flaunt themselves, their cars, their homes and their money when my family and I struggle to survive on a daily basis? We don’t want the “Reality” based DRAMA shows, we want shows like Believe, Resurrection,Defiance, The 100, Arrow, etc. LISTEN TO THE PUBLIC, NOT THE RANTERS!!!!!!