Though the TV ratings had The Blacklist far in front of Hostages, I’d like to give a shout out to the new CBS-TV Series in the oh-so-important Monday night at 10:00 PM slot.
Hostages stars Dylan McDermott as a multifaceted character called Duncan Carlisle. First time we see him, he is holding a family of four hostage. With a quick flashback to 18 hours earlier, we find out that he is a strong and fierce FBI Field agent, and we see him in action in a bank robbery/hostage situation. The difference is that then he was on the side of law and order, and in the present he is a perp.
Finally, after the bank robbery case is resolved, we meet him as a caring and devoted Dad who is parking his daughter with her grandfather.
On the other side of the original hostage situation, we have the family of four. The wife is Dr. Ellen Saunders, played by Toni Colletti. She’s a top rated surgeon and she’s been tabbed to perform surgery on a very important person – the President of the United States, played by James Naughton.
Her husband, Brian Saunders, is played by Tate Donovan. He has the look and feel of a successful businessman. But before we are more than just a few minutes in, we see that he is lying to his wife, and a big business deal that he was working on is dead in the water.
They have two kids – both teenagers. A lacrosse playing high-schooler of a son, Jake (Mateus Ward), and a moody college girl daughter Morgan (Quinn Shephard). We will soon learn that these kids have secrets too.
To guard the four hostages, we have three other people besides McDermott’s Carlisle. Rhys Coiro (recently seen on Entourage as the film director Billy Walsh) is Kramer Delaney, Sandrine Holt, who performed in House of Cards last winter, is Maria Gonzales, and Billy Brown plays Archer Petit.
They wield automatic weapons, have exceedingly high skills with electronic surveillance equipment, have planned very carefully, and are, in all likelihood, ready to fight to their last breath.
So what is it that they, the gang of four, are trying to accomplish, and how do the Saunders, a family of four, figure in their plans. Ready? They want Dr. Saunders’ patient, the POTUS, to die on the operating table. We are not told why. They have given Dr. Saunders a quick acting poison to swap into the Presidential IV. And to make sure she does it, they are holding her family hostages.
To make sure that Dr. Saunders realizes they mean business, they reveal their faces, as if to say, You see us, you know we will do what we have to. Kill the President or your family dies.
That’s the set up.
The show had, in my opinion, a nice edge to it. The bank robbery ended with a killing, the bad guys look suitably tough and willing, and McDermott has always had a commanding presence on-screen. Dr. Ellen Saunders is also a very capable and quick thinking character. The Saunders kids seem something of a lift from Homeland.
While Hostages played out its pilot in a rather exciting way, with more than a few surprises, it looks like it would be a success, but … and this is big but … it is in a very difficult time slot. If it were in a different time slot, I think the ratings would be much higher.
The NBC show The Blacklist, on against Hostages, follows The Voice, and also competing against Hostages is the ABC entry – Castle. The announced ratings had Hostages trailing both Castle and The Blacklist; and trailing badly.
Thank goodness for On-Demand. Now I can watch both. I think Hostages has a good premise, but I’m not sure they can sustain the suspense and tension over a longer period of time.