Hostages’ acting talent can’t overcome a predictable, cliched plot

CBS Hostages

I really wanted to like ‘Hostages'; the cast and crew are outstanding. But a great cast can’t overcome a bad story.

 

Of the many shows I’ve watched or plan to watch, one genre is barely on my radar: “thrillers.” Kidnappings, spies, traitors, and plots to kill the president do not catch my attention unless it’s a movie, and even then you’d have to pay for the ticket. The primary reason I decided to use up what little space I have on my DVR for Hostages was because of the cast. I absolutely adore Toni Collette … it’s her eyes. They just pull me in and I am instantly on her side. I want everything to go well for her character in whatever role she plays. Then there’s Dylan McDermott who’s super nice to look at. And lastly, Tate Donovan. He’s a fantastic actor who radiates kindness; no matter how much of a jerk his characters may be, he redeems himself. His acting makes that redemption believable.

The actors, the producer, and the time slot: that’s how I was tricked into watching Hostages.
Not only did the actors convince me to give Hostages a try, but the fact that it is a Jerry Bruckheimer produced show made this all the more intriguing to me. I’ll admit that I’m a sucker for the shows he produces like CSI, Without a Trace, and Cold Case. I’ve actually cried on every episode of Cold Case that I’ve seen! So of course when they used his name in the advertisement of this show, it caught my eye. The show also got lucky that when it premiered, there were no other shows I wanted to watch in that time slot.

The actors, the producer, and the time slot: that’s how I was tricked into watching Hostages.

The first few minutes of the show I was already rolling my eyes. Dylan McDermott’s opening scene as Agent Duncan Carlisle was all about showing what a badass he was. Unfortunately that is not what his character came off as. Instead, he came off as super corny. After taking over a hostage situation — very rudely I may add — he shoots a “hostage” that turns out to be the criminal in disguise. When the cop asks him, “What if you’d been wrong?” Duncan replies smugly, “I wasn’t.” Wow. Superb writing! After he struts away from the cop towards the camera, I immediately wanted to hit stop and delete it off my DVR. But I didn’t … I kept going, hoping it would live up to all the promoting CBS put into this show. C’mon … Toni Collette?! The show must get better, right? No. No, it really didn’t.

As the show goes on, I realize the director really wanted this to be fancy. The camera angles and the panning were truly overdone. There really is something to be said about simple camera work. Maybe if the story had done a better job drawing me in, I would have appreciated the choice instead of finding it distracting.

Hostages’ plot is so predictable and cliché. Before each family members secrets were revealed I had already guessed what they were: pregnant daughter with a douchey boyfriend, drug dealing son, cheating husband. And of course, the bad guy is really not a “bad” guy. His wife is sick, and he helped the pregnant daughter hide her secret … how sweet. And don’t forget, someone in the President’s circle is working with the bad guys. Surprise, surprise.

The acting was not at all what I was expecting from seasoned actors who usually shine brightly. I felt that Collette was barely trying. Her shocked face seemed forced and when she was told she had to kill the President or her family dies, she looked around with her mouth open, and looked just… silly. That’s the only word to use. Silly.

By the end of the episode I found myself laughing at all of the little things. I’m pretty sure Hostages is not a comedy, but it sure felt like it. I don’t think the pilot was captivating enough for it to stick around for too long. What the show has going for it is that Jerry Bruckheimer’s name and it’s on CBS. Being on CBS a good thing for any show. The network tends to keep shows around for a while, giving them a chance to find their voice and connect to an audience. However, my instinct tells me that all the time in the world won’t get this series a strong fan base.

I just hope it ends quickly so that these actors can move onto other projects that are actually worth taking up some of my DVR space.
I’ll admit, I am curious as to why the president needs to die and what this has to do with the FBI agent and his sick wife. But not curious enough to keep watching this show. Hostages is being considered a “limited series,” like The Following, Under the Dome, and American Horror Story — only 15 episodes per season. Also, interruption between episodes will only be during the holiday season. This means, no waiting a long period of time for the next episode. Questions will be answered faster. I am a fan of both of these things. Being a “limited series” gives programs the chance to complete the original plot, then take the story in a different direction. Or, just end the series cleanly.

After finding this out, how they could make this particular story into a television series instead of a movie made sense. That excited me. I wanted to get so into a series that I can’t stop watching it and — lucky me — I wouldn’t have had to wait too long for the next episode. I s that they didn’t do a very good job making this show suspenseful or interesting enough to hook me.

I’m the type of person who will give a new show a few episodes before I give up; it’s rare that I only watch a pilot. And maybe I’m a bit biased because thrillers aren’t usually what I watch anyways, but the thing is… if a show is amazing, it doesn’t matter what genre it is. I will watch it. This show was just not great … not even close. For that, I am truly sad, because I wanted to like Hostages. I just hope it ends quickly so that these actors can move onto other projects that are actually worth taking up some of my DVR space.

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Photo Credit: CBS

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