There’s always bound to be a few disappointments in a new television series and unfortunately “Hostages” is one of those pilots that doesn’t build the momentum necessary to make one want to return to the show, despite the central conflict and great cast.
Toni Collette plays Dr. Ellen Sanders, a surgeon who has been chosen to operate on the President of the United States. What would seem like a high honor soon becomes a nightmare when her family is taken hostage by a rogue FBI agent and his team of goons, who inform her that she must kill the President or have her family die.
The problem with this pilot is that it throws so much at the audience in one go with regards to the characters and none of it feels fresh. Not only do you get the workaholic wife, you get the cheating husband, drug dealing yet sensitive son, daughter who is pregnant by some older guy, and a rogue FBI agent with a wife in a coma who orchestrates the kidnapping, all in about 10-15 mins of screen time. That much character information would work if every beat and choice didn’t feel so obvious and cliché. I mean we know Sanders’ husband isn’t going to be a nice guy solely by virtue of casting Tate Donovan in the part.
The pilot had some pacing and tonal issues that really threw me off. For a show where the central conceit is a family being kidnapped and put under duress, there wasn’t a single point where the show made me worried for the characters. Especially in the middle of the episode, the show really bogs down with everyone going through the motions of what a hostage situation might look like rather than making the audience feel as if we were in the middle one. It just wasn’t particularly exciting or thrilling. When the highlight of your episode is Dylan’s kidnapper helping the daughter of the family he’s holding hostage hide a pregnancy test, you’ve already lost the game. (Or maybe won? I don’t know. This moment was so crazy and ridiculous)
I was surprised that despite the talents of the actors involved that none of the main cast, Toni Collette, Dylan McDermott or Tate Donovan, managed to register much during this episode. Of the cast, only Quinn Shepard playing Dr. Sanders’ pregnant daughter, managed to make an impact on the pilot.
Overall, “Hostages” does have pieces to right the ship, but in terms of execution, the pilot was not what the show needed to start its run on. Hopefully they’ll make the corrections necessary to right the ship.