Mon. Feb 26th, 2024

Renowned For Sound

For the latest music reviews and interviews

TV Review – Hostages: The Complete Series

3 min read

In recent years, a slew of politically based dramas have been developed, creating a very competitive market for complicated, well thought-out series. Hostages is one of these shows that looks pretty darn good on paper, but unfortunately found itself in “too far-fetched” territory to save itself from being axed after its premiere season.

HostagesThe show follows Dr. Ellen Sanders (Toni Collette), a skilled surgeon chosen to operate on the President of the United States (James Naughton). Although this comes with a bunch of publicity and respect from fellow surgeons, it gives rogue FBI Agent Duncan Carlisle (Dylan McDermott) an opportunity to use Ellen as a means of assassinating the President. As the title of the series suggests, Carlisle takes Ellen and her family; cheating husband Brian (Tate Donovan), and her typical teenage kids Morgan (Quinn Shephard) and Jake (Mateus Ward) hostage until Ellen agrees to sabotage the Presidents surgery. Helping good-guy gone bad Carlisle in this endeavour is brother-in-law Kramer (Rhys Coiro), intimidating Archer (Billy Brown) and the fill in Sandrine (Sandrine Holt). What follows is a tangled web of deceit and misconceptions, where the heroes do terrible things and the enemy might not be so bad after all.

The standout performances come from the leads, Collette and McDermott, who both bring total ownership to their characters. This is a show that is very representative of the ‘grey’ area, and as such the characters involved are very complicated, layered individuals, which at times can often be played with a little too soap opera dramatics. Yet the leads here are seasoned professionals, particularly McDermott, who as the misunderstood Carlisle plays the part with just the right amount of fear and sympathy that I often found myself rooting for the ‘enemy’, even if his goal was to end a life. Collette is also at her best here, and it was great to see her tackling meatier roles where her acting prowess can shine through, proving again why she is a great asset to the film and television industry. But in an ensemble show, chemistry is key, and Collette and McDermott have a terrific back and forth banter and tension that is just simmering under the surface. Regardless of the overall plot, that storyline on its own is enough to keep audiences interested in their ever changing relationship.

The unfortunate thing about basing an entire show around a family being taken hostage is the very little breathing room you leave for the storyline. Yes, the start of the series was promising, but as the show progressed it quickly declined into a place where nothing really made sense anymore and plotlines were so inconceivable to the point of ridiculousness (think LOST in its later seasons). The fact that every new character introduced was somehow involved in the assassination plot against the President was just plain annoying, since it just added a new character to the mix that didn’t necessarily need to be added, and over complicated an already intricate story.

That isn’t to say there weren’t some great episodes, in particular “Off the Record” set some storylines straight while also creating some entirely fresh ones in the process. This was a welcome change from the lacklustre tone the show was setting, and was a great pick me up heading into the later episodes of the series. Of course you’re only as good as your last episode and the series finale “Endgame” while tidying up loose ends, felt too happy ending for me. While I realise the series had been cancelled thus creating a need to neatly package everything, why not go out with a bang and leave on an ‘oh my god’ moment, as opposed to an ‘I knew that was coming’ one? All the characters basically set off into the sunset or the clinker, which was not only depressing, but completely predictable. In this day and age of television, where it seems every series is shrouded in mystery around some political issue or another, it is hard to stay intriguing and fresh at the same time.

Unfortunately for Hostages a great idea is nothing without a certain kind of execution, and while the leads were superb in their roles, the storyline was too convoluted and implausible to be anything other than a one hit wonder. Such a premise would have been better suited to a two hour blockbuster, instead of a series format.