'Quantico': TV Review

Mindless fun.

ABC's FBI drama takes a lesson from Shonda Rhimes, casts an international beauty and has enough hooks to overcome the hokey bits.

One of the frustrating things about the pilot for ABC’s Quantico is that it’s just good enough to make you want to watch another, but also filled with enough worries to make you want the second episode as proof that the flaws might be magnified.

So here we are again with a broadcast network releasing only one episode for review, a practice that — given the poor ratings from the vast majority of shows released so far — is not working particularly well. It’s not, in fact, a practice that can continue much longer, and the sooner the networks understand that, the better off they will be.

Of course, what keeps them complacent is the (increasingly rare) pilot that actually does look intriguing and prompts people to turn out — as they will tonight for Quantico, and as they did for NBC’s Blindspot. Maybe getting eyeballs for one or two of your fall shows is enough to not fix the formula.

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In any case, you should definitely give Quantico a look if you’re interested in a little mindless eye candy that has enough hooks of a larger mystery to possibly keep you entertained week to week. And by all means, if you’re a fan already of ABC series like How To Get Away With Murder (which Quantico borrows from heavily) and Scandal, you’ll be right at home with Quantico, which, in the future, will likely have plenty of Grey’s Anatomy sexy-time moments as well.

You may have already heard that Quantico looks and feels like a Shonda Rhimes series — and that’s because it does. The series was created by Joshua Safran (Smash, Gossip Girl), who no doubt — and possibly with the help of ABC itself — is clearly versed in Shondaland habits.

Quantico is fronted by Bollywood superstar and former Miss World Priyanka Chopra, who will now attempt to conquer the last bastion of said world right here on American television. She plays FBI recruit Alex, who, we find out in the opening seconds, just survived a terrorist attack on the Grand Central terminal mere months after becoming an agent. (The central mystery of the series, like Murder, is told in flashbacks after we witness the event.) And it only takes a few minutes — or one of the many previews you probably saw  to suss out that the FBI now considers Alex the prime suspect.

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Well, duh, she’s been framed! (The show would be a declarative sentence if she were the one who actually did it …)

And Quantico, in one of the worst-filmed and most implausible slow-speed chases you’ll ever see, gets her freed so that she can defend herself. Yeah, that’s exactly why a second episode would have been nice — will Quantico solve dicey problems with unrealistic escapes every week? That wouldn’t be very fun.

That said, prior to the ludicrous escape, the pilot had done an admirable job keeping up the pacing, the interest and certainly the excitement level. That alone should get you to watch the second episode.

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And Safran and company have a nice little conceit in the pilot where we meet a bunch of the FBI recruits on their way to their first day, then follow them in the early stages as they meet each other and build some background stories along the way. Cleverly, Quantico achieves this by having each recruit find out a piece of information redacted from the files of a co-recruit. Fail to find out the secret (which the FBI already knows — this is a training exercise, not free intern labor) and you’re out.

That the recruits are pretty much who you think they’d be — the pretty boy whose parents are agents but he’s the dumb one in the family; the girl whose parents died on Sept. 11; the gay guy; the Muslim woman; the Marine, etc. — is typical central casting for not just ABC but all of network television.

Read more 'Quantico' (ABC) Trailer

That’s fine. There’s even one completely audacious Scandal-style bit of twisty storytelling that, despite the groan you’ll let out, makes you want to see how they resolve it. And that’s really the bottom line to Quantico — it’s not breaking any new ground here and it’s certainly not going to remind you of Homeland (at least not in that show’s better moments) or other gritty, spy-terrorist-agent type shows. It’s a Shonda show with guns, even though it’s not a Shonda show. There are plausibility issues galore here, but if that’s your hang-up, you shouldn’t be watching network television anyway.

Certainly more episodes would be more helpful in evaluating where Quantico is going, but at least the first hour does its most basic job — setting the hook — well enough to give it the benefit of the doubt.

Email: Tim.Goodman@THR.com

Twitter: @BastardMachine

  

 

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