Herc Is Underwhelmed By Cuaron’s Bad Robot Pilot BELIEVE!!
The tale of man assigned to protect a telekinetic preteen, “Believe” come to us from writer-producer Mark Friedman (creator of the aptly named 2009 procedural “The Forgotten”) and Oscar-winning director Alfonso Cuaron (“Gravity”).
This comes to us also from J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot production company, whose TV track record (“Person of Interest,” “Undercovers,” “Alcatraz,” “Revolution,” “Almost Human”) inspires less and less confidence as it grows.
Cuaron’s direction is flashy and accomplished, but the undercooked script renders this pilot perhaps the most disappointing of the season. Certainly, nothing in the pilot’s plot or characters makes me want to add the series to my already-bulging DVR.
... Cuarón's contributions behind the camera are by far the most interesting part of "Believe." Take away the technical wizardry of "Gravity" or "Children of Men" — albeit on a much-reduced scale and budget — and what you have is a slightly more action-oriented remake of FOX's short-lived "Touch," or an incredibly scaled-down beta test of NBC's planned "Heroes" reboot. …
... the characters don’t live up to the swirling, often violent action that surrounds them. … most of the narrative turns out to consist of long, elaborate chase scenes as Tate and Bo keep narrowly slipping past their pursuers. …
... When "Believe" tries to be meaningful, it's also at its most obvious, and the show could prove to be too willfully touching for its own good. But it doesn't seem impossible to me that they could get the mix right. My crystal ball stays cloudy.
… The chase scenes are great, a special-effects scene toward the end of the episode is great, but the mix of action-suspense, supernatural and schmaltz doesn't quite blend well.
... Believe works best as a relentless chase scene. The first episode (directed by Cuarón) has some limberness to its movement, but, like so much else in this particular genre, produces a lukewarm result. …
... Director Alfonso Cuaron picked up a best directing Oscar for the big-screen "Gravity" a week ago but you wouldn't know it from his work on NBC's "Believe" (10 p.m. Monday), an OK (but visually unexceptional) pilot that does little to set viewers up for what the show will be on a week-to-week basis. …
... Based on the moderately engaging premiere, the show feels like it has only just enough story line and emotional content to deliver a couple of solid hours — maybe a Friday night TV movie. Neither the plot nor the characters are sufficiently evocative to suggest that viewers will want to spend months, much less years, following them. …
… her abilities are so poorly defined, the danger is the series will turn into a “power-of-the-week” show. Cuaron himself directed the pilot, and the hour suggests the medium is not for him. The fight choreography is not convincing. ... Bo’s abilities give her astounding insight into adults and thus make her one of the most annoying tweens on TV. It’s not clear from the premiere as to why Milton and Channing can’t defend Bo themselves. There are two last-minute twists that stretch and nearly break any credulity. …
... These two very busy visionaries lend their names, and Cuaron his directing chops (in the pilot episode, anyway), for NBC's otherwise painfully derivative Believe …
... As you'd hope from an hour directed by Cuarón, Monday's premiere moves swiftly and surely, with well-shot action sequences and bursts of visual flare, led by a nightmarish image of birds coming to Bo's rescue. Small touches of humor mix with large doses of pseudo-spiritual sentiment: Had one more character expressed belief in another or urged another to believe in himself, the show would have been a prime candidate for TV's next drinking game. Yet for all those flourishes, nothing really shakes that feeling that it's all been done before and it won't end well.
... Embracing mystical mumbo-jumbo and ignoring lapses in logic are required to enjoy the Cuaron-directed pilot … if that’s as good as it’s going to get, the network’s faith in “Believe” appears to be misguided.
10 p.m. Monday. NBC.
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