‘Hostages’ Series Premiere Review

Published 2 years ago by , Updated September 24th, 2013 at 1:17 pm,

hostages pilot review Hostages Series Premiere Review

The cast (Toni Collette, Dylan McDermott) is intriguing and the concept hooks you: a doctor, wife, and mother who is about to perform surgery on the President of the United States is forced to choose between ending his life or risking the lives of those that she loves, as her family is being held captive by a band of well trained killers.

Hostages – CBS’ new foray into serialized drama from Traitor writer/director Jeffrey Nachmanoff and Alon Aranya – wasn’t going to have a problem getting attention, they just have to worry about keeping it for 15 episodes.

The show pits seemingly crooked FBI agent Duncan Carlisle (McDermott) and his team against Dr. Ellen Sanders (Collette), her husband (Tate Donovan), and their two teenagers (Mateus Ward and Quinn Shephard) in their suburban Mc-fortress.

Hostages takes the slow burn approach, slogging through almost half of the debut episode to introduce us to every main character before addressing the show’s central conflict: Carlisle’s plan to turn Dr. Sanders’ family into bargaining chips and her into an assassin.

We don’t really learn much about these characters, though, and that robs us of our chance to truly care about their predicament. There’s also the fact that nearly every character is embedded with a deep dark secret, creating further distance between the viewer and the characters due to the absurdity of just how many problems this well-to-do family has. Honestly, this could have been called Keeping up with the Calamities and no one would have blanched.

hostages pilot review sitting Hostages Series Premiere Review

Not only is Ellen’s husband Brian cheating on her (and willing to do almost anything to keep that secret), but her teenage daughter is pregnant, and her son is a junior dope dealer who owes more than a grand to a guy named Nico. Barkley, the family dog, is knocked out through much of the episode, but at this point, it would seem that he probably has something to hide as well.

We’re also shown three sides to McDermott’s agent Carlisle – a brash and tropey FBI agent who gets results despite his recklessness (he identifies and plugs a bank robber because his boots didn’t match his suit – honestly, that feels like a scene taken right out of Sledge Hammer!), the sensitive husband and father who is sitting beside his comatose wife’s hospital bed, and the ruthless kidnapper and traitor. McDermott delivers a tour de force with that much variety in front of him – but really, it feels like he is coasting at times. Still, the effort to flesh out and add complexity to McDermott’s character – a character that could have easily been one note – is appreciated.

Collette is seemingly always on her game, but you never feel as though the former United States of Tara actress’ character is really afraid of her captors or concerned about what she is being asked to do. Not enough, at least. In the end, she tries to take back some sense of control with a risky play for the sake of a family that she apparently barely knows, but it is through agent Carlisle that we see a bridge to carry this show forward, as events take place that have us wondering if he is no more than a supremely effective pawn in a much, much, bigger conspiracy.

Will viewers get a chance to see this story unfold and get answers? One can never tell with serialized freshman dramas, but CBS gave Hostages a prime spot on the schedule (though, it is unfortunately up against the James Spader-ific serialized drama The Blacklist), so one assumes that Nachmanoff will get a bit of time to build his audience and tell his story.

With that said, Hostages was presented as a political thriller. Here’s hoping that they get back to that and sidestep some of the trite family drama.


Hostages airs on Mondays @10 PM on CBS

Follow Jason Tabrys on Twitter @jtabrys
TAGS: Hostages
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  1. Looks good, but could drag. This could be told in a 5 part mini, not a 15 episode – JMO

  2. Hey Screen Rant! Any chance you guys will do a review for How I Met Your Mother or Sleepy Hollow? I know HIMYM is just a sit-com, but its in its last season! And would like to know your thoughts on Sleepy Hollow as well!

    • Wow, pretty sure you just lost two daily viewers with that awful response. We come here because we enjoy your analysis, but you are right. There are many other sites to go to who are more acclaimed and credible then yours. Thank you for the advice…deuces!

      • That’s probably some trOll and not the real site owners. Ether that or someone is drunk

      • That was NOT anyone at Screen Rant. Any of the writers/moderators who respond do so using their names. The above was some m0r0n who thought he was being clever. Ignore the buff00n.

      • Anim, Lorenzo…

        The Screen Rant NEVER respond like that…ignore the fake response; it was made by an imbecile.

        • Sheesh…that should be: “Screen Rant STAFF”.

  3. I honestly thought this was a movie, because it doesn’t seem like it could offer enough to be a series o.0

  4. Is ScreenRant for real? Its either a very poor joke or just plain rude… disappointed!

  5. Can you do the review of the better show that was on at 10pm last night, The Blacklist

  6. Oh darn! What did I miss?! LOL

  7. I thought the pilot was very solid. Fifteen episodes means less/to no fillers. McDermott gave a good performance. I look forward to the upcoming season. Better than another procedural from CBS.

  8. I wish reviews for movies and series premieres would only tell us story information that was seen in trailers and commercials for it. I was skimming through the review to see if the show was good and I was trying to avoid spoilers but of course like most reviews it contains plenty of info that is not in the trailers and I found out that the husband was cheating on the wife. Sure it’s not a big spoiler but it’s something I want to see for myself and it’s a shame you really can’t read a review for a movie or a new show unless you want to be spoiled with basically the entire story with the exception of the ending.

  9. I agree with this review 100%.