Crisis: TV Review

The most powerful people in D.C. have their children kidnapped while on a field trip. It just gets worse from there. For a series that tries to show how a small group of people can create mayhem and control the country, the show can't even get you to stop checking your watch between commercials. Not a good sign. 

NBC's latest drama falls flat and fails to thrill.

Nothing derails a hostage drama more quickly than not caring about the fate of the hostages, which happens rather early in NBC’s limp Crisis, airing Sunday at 10.

At least in CBS’s droning, ultimately not very thrilling Hostages, there were good actors everywhere you turned, and periodically some strong writing.

Not much of either happen in Crisis, except for the presence of Gillian Anderson, who makes you wonder aloud why she took the job (particularly after she was so great in The Fall).

Usually ambitious stories on broadcast television dream too big for their creators to fulfill, something that’s apparent after you’ve invested four or five hours and give up. Only a series with off-the-charts creativity -- think Flash Forward from yesteryear -- can manage to take you even three quarters of the way to satisfaction. Luckily, Crisis lets you know in the first hour that you’ve got better ways to spend your precious time.

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The series is about the kidnapping of a bunch of elite high school kids in Washington, D.C. They are the children of politicians, business tycoons -- pick a white-collar profession (or maybe just some royalty types) and those kids were on the bus that was kidnapped.

And yet, series creator and writer Rand Ravich (Life) has forgotten to make us care about all of these brats before he is able to get his story off the ground. Or, worse, he’s simply written them as brats to fit the stereotype. And so if there’s a missile about to find them in their secret hideaway, let it fly. That’s one emotion you might feel. Why care about these cardboard cutouts? And their parents? Got a spare missile?

Dermot Mulroney plays the mastermind behind the kidnapping, a twist only evident by how milquetoast his character is and how Mulroney lets his eyes go all droopy to show you he’s not a wimp but a man with an interior inferno of payback. Except you’ll likely be checking your watch and not connected to him in any way, so waiting around for his backstory to develop seems unlikely. If you do wait for it, well, yeah, it’s kind of disappointing.

Rachael Taylor plays one of the FBI agents investigating the mass kidnapping, but she looks like one of the high school kids, so that complicates her believability.

Everyone else seems to be a cookie-cutter representation of either a bad guy, a person in authority who barks commands or an angry rich parent. Your level of caring about each of them may vary.

But Crisis comes out of the chute as flat as any recent thriller on network television -- actually, more so. There’s barely an ounce of believability in it. The casting seems woeful and the acting isn’t going to get you to the second hour. The mystery of why this Crisis has been created in the first place? Well, if you have all of these other stumbling blocks, you’ll probably trip before you’ve spent enough time to get invested in what the story is all about.

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