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Herc Is No Hostage

I am – Hercules!!

“Hostages” is going to remind a lot of “24” fans of that Kiefer Sutherland vehicle’s first season, which saw the wife and daughter of antiterrorist agent Jack Bauer held hostage while Bauer himself was dispatched to assassinate a man destined to inhabit the White House.

In this case, it’s the husband and children of a big-deal surgeon held hostage while that surgeon (the always-busy Toni Collette) is dispatched by the bad guys (led by a rogue FBI man played by Dermot Mulroo … er, Dylan McDermott) to kill the incumbent U.S. president during what was intended to be a life-saving surgical procedure.

“Hostages” is perfectly watchable, but the folks behind Jack Bauer did a much, much more entertaining job a dozen years ago.

The pilot, for the record, was scripted and directed by Jeffrey Nachmanoff, whose writing credits include the 2004 blockbuster “The Day After Tomorrow” and the 2008 Don Cheadle thriller “Traitor.”

The serialized project, slated to run 15 episodes, at least demonstrates that even CBS execs may be tiring of their network’s seemingly endless supply of procedurals with their endless supply of stand-alone hour-long mysteries. (And a shift might prove good business for the CBS; I think its highly serialized 13-hour sci-fi summer series “Under The Dome” scored better ratings than all regular-season CBS dramas except “NCIS.”)

HitFix says:

... Boy, did I hate this. … I do not care what happens to any of these people, so why do I want to watch them stuck in this claustrophobic tension dealing with contrived situations that will prolong it over a season? I would say it misunderstands exactly what it is that people like in serialized cable dramas, but then I think of the ratings for "Under the Dome" and "The Following," and wonder if CBS might not have a hit on its hands despite the terrible writing. Grade: D

HuffPost says:

... McDermott will always be an acquired taste for me, but his whisper-yell is reasonably reined in here, and Toni Collette is typically excellent as a capable woman out of her depth. As for the rest of the characters, they're a standard-issue broadcast network family so far. And that's where "Hostages" will stand or fall: If we don't care about the people in the title group, there's not much inducement to continue watching beyond week 2 or 3. …

The New York Times says:

... The many layers of feints and puzzles are compelling, but it’s hard to see how they can last more than a season or two.

The San Francisco Chronicle says:

… there's dad's extramarital affair. In a better written show, that last bit might be considered a spoiler, but if you don't see that one coming a mile away, you're not a regular TV watcher. … …

The Washington Post says:

... handsomely made and yet patently ridiculous. …

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette says:

... What makes "Hostages" such a disappointment is the overly familiar/lame dialogue and plotting. …

The Boston Herald says:

… Turns out everyone in this family — husband Brian (Tate Donovan, “Damages”) and teenagers Morgan (Quinn Shephard) and Jake (Mateus Ward) is hiding a secret — straight out of the “Days of Our Lives” handbook. ... The twist in the final moments suggests the series already could be catching a case of the stupids, in which case, no cast, no matter how talented, will be able to save this show. …

USA Today says:

... Thanks in large part to the grounded, nuanced performance from Collette, tonight's introduction effectively establishes both the moral dilemma at the heart of the story and the chess match the show intends to follow between Sanders and Carlisle. In suitably suspenseful fashion, it also lets us know that the choices may be more complicated than Ellen imagines: There are things she doesn't know about her own family, let alone about Carlisle's plan. …

The Hollywood Reporter says:

... I’m in for a handful more episodes of Hostages. It’s a pretty great first hour and if they can keep up the suspense before changing direction, it might be a feat worth watching every week. …

Variety says:

... There’s certainly a racing pulse in this Jerry Bruckheimer production, but the longer-term prognosis remains murky. … there’s a pretty good incentive to hang around at least a little longer, if only to get a firmer feel on where this might be heading, with family secrets and strained relationships clearly on the soapy menu to hold at least some viewers hostage.

10 p.m. Monday. CBS.

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