Network television has been trying for years to develop the next big dramatic series with an overarching season-long concept (with the hope, of course, that it will last longer). While they have stuck with a few (including Lost and Revolution), most have driven audiences away, either by taking too long to answer questions or by being too complicated to holder the interest of viewers on the crowded TV schedule. Crisis is yet another attempt, but this one is both complex, yet it’s simple enough to follow.
Gillian Anderson is the star of Crisis, yet it’s enough of an ensemble that she isn’t the primary focus (not yet, anyway). She is one of many parents whose children have been kidnapped by a mysterious organization with nefarious intent. Why kidnap a busload of teens on a field trip? Well, for one thing, the President’s son is among the students. I say ‘for one thing’, because that’s not the only reason (to say more would give too much away).
This is a show where you don’t always know who the good guys and the bad guys are until the story unfolds, and in the pilot, this is handled well. The characters are introduced masterfully, and it’s easy to get caught up in the tension created by the situation…especially when you can’t always tell who’s on which side.
Anderson’s character happens to be the estranged sister of one of the lead FBI officers who are on the case, and the two sisters are forced to work together while trying (without much success) to tip-toe around their personal conflicts. As the story unfolds, you have to wonder if they will be on opposite sides of the task at hand: getting all of the children home safely.
Dermot Mulroney is the father of another student, and he is also one of the hostages. Unfortunately for him, he drew the short straw and is one of the parent-chaperones for the field trip. He’s also the first casualty of their captors…but he’s also something more. (I told you it was complex.)
Crisis also focuses on a Secret Service agent (Lance Gross) who had the bad luck to have his first day on the job finding him escorting the bus that is destined to be captured. He seems to be a good guy, but after watching the first hour, it’s hard to take that (or anything) for granted.
I found Crisis to be compelling and I am looking forward to future episodes, but NBC has relegated the show to Sundays at 10pm at mid-season, so that’s a stumbling block for building a following. Sundays are the most competitive night on the TV schedule (especially with all of the cable shows that air on Sunday nights), so it’s very likely that this will just be another one of those “concept shows” that get lost in the shuffle. The sad thing is that this show could be a hit with the proper scheduling and promotion by NBC. Hopefully, they’ll have second thoughts and give it the attention it deserves, but there’s no sign of that happening as of this writing. That’s the REAL suspense surrounding this show, though.
TV Gord’s verdict: Limited success (might survive a full season)