Hostages 1.1: Pilot Episode Review

'Don't think of Hostages as killing an hour of your life... think of it as saving you time in the future by avoiding it.' I must state that there are spoilers to follow. However, whether you have watched it already or not, it probably won't make any difference. The programme writers must have had to think hard when contriving what to cram into the pilot episode of this supposed Channel 4 replacement for Homeland. It seems they decided on EVERYTHING. How shall I cram thee, let me count the ways. I shall cram thee with an uber-cool FBI agent so tough he can shoot a hostage-taker based on the fact their shoes do not match their suit. Yet he secretly has a vulnerable side as demonstrated by a hospitalised wife and an immense struggle to look after his little daughter (referenced by his inability to remember her favourite dress). BUT WAIT. He is actually not so squeaky clean as he dons a balaclava as hostage negotiator turns hostage taker. This twist was one of the only points of interest and was surprising until you realise he can't act and his clandestine occupation is yet another cliché. Turning to the family that comprise the other half of the hostage equation, there is a high-powered heart surgeon who will imminently operate on The President of the United States. DUN DUN DUH. Unusually her perfect all-American family are not as wholesome as they appear. The son is discovered to be selling weed, not sure that's ever been done. While the daughter is pregnant with a boy her parents will disapproved of. OH DEAR. Her husband has been having an affair and is not the poster-hubby, part-time lacrosse-coaching successful businessman one might expect. Crikey, they better not get taken hostage - that could create some problems. UH OH SPAGHETTI Os. This series of inconsequential, unappealing and unempathetic character developments are all set in motion in the first 20 minutes. Therefore when the family are taken hostage (spoiler!) frankly you don't really care if they all got shot. The acting was so wooden it made rolling pins look like Oscar winners. The way the characters were drawn was so rushed the shady FBI agent's young daughter could have done better. Even accomplished stars such as Toni Collete (Sixth Sense, About A Boy and Little Miss Sunshine) and Tate Donovan (Damages and Argo) could not save this script and suggests an error in judgement in taking on the project after reading the pilot. The set-up is that the FBI guy and three others (a gruff black man, a pretty but cold token female and a suspiciously sensitive third male, ugh, unimaginative) are charged with holding the surgeon's family hostage in order to force her to kill the president during the routine heart surgery to follow the next day. A moment of unintentional hilarity occurred when FBI guy tells scalpel-wizard: "don't think of it as killing the President" (can you guess the next line?). Yes, I mouthed the words "think of it as saving your family". When a programme is so anachronistic that you can write it as you go along, it deserves this much criticism. Surely, there must be some way out for the family? A way to get the message of distress out from under their armed guard's noses? No. They have thought of everything! They have both, drugged the family dog AND intercepted the automatic security protocol triggered by the house burglar alarm. Gosh, looks like POTUS is a goner. No names have been disclosed so far. This is not to protect the anonymity of the hostages but to underline the unmemorable nature of FBI guy and Mrs. Best Surgeon. Mrs. Best Surgeon does not kill the President, swapping the vial given to her by the Hostage Squad that will not show up in the autopsy, with that a blood thinner €“ delaying the surgery for two weeks. There is a look of defiance as she looks directly through the camera at FBI guy in the post-match interview from baying American TV journalists when asked whether she thought this was a setback. She retorts "I don't give up that easily". In translation, 'ha ha ha, I didn't do what you wanted and I look forward to two weeks of being held in my house at gunpoint with my family'. There will be no episode two account of Hostages from this reviewer. They took an hour of my life and I refuse to enter into a dialogue with my captors. The whole effect reminded me of this brilliant video highlighting hackneyed American dramatisation:
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My written style is quite cheeky because I would rather write something that will entertain, even if it divides opinion!