[In case you've Forgotten, and as I will continue to mention each and every one of these posts that I do: This is *not* a review. Pilots change. Sometimes a lot. Often for the better. Sometimes for the worse. But they change. Actual reviews will be coming in September and perhaps October (and maybe midseason in some cases). This is, however, a brief gut reaction to not-for-air pilots. I know some people will be all "These are reviews." If you've read me, you've read my reviews and you know this isn't what they look like.]

Show:"Crisis" (NBC)
Airs:Midseason
The Pitch: "It's 'Hostages' only with Dermot Mulroney!"
Quick Response: In the Dylan McDermott/Dermot Mulroney battle of conspiracy-fueled, DC-based hostage dramas with bland one-word titles, the winner is Mulroney's "Crisis," at least for me. Yes, "Crisis" has several easy-to-predict twists and a frustrating in medias res opening and some character motivations that are totally transparent. And as with "Hostages," it feels more like the set-up for a movie or brief miniseries than anything with real legs. And a lot of Rand Ravich's dialogue -- "You're my problem and now I'm yours!" -- sounds like it was lifted from a Michael Bay or Roland Emmerich summer blockbuster. And I can't talk about half of the characters and half of the performances without saying things that would probably give other things away. So that's a lot of negatives. But negatives aside, Ravich's script also has a lot of unexpected and interesting beats and taking a group of well-reared school children as hostages rather than a boring-as-hell family gives Ravich an astounding number of potential directions to take things, at least in the short-term. And while I ended "Hostages" thinking, "I don't quite know where things go from here and I don't care," I ended the "Crisis" pilot thinking, "I don't quite know where things go from here, but there are a handful of paths that might be interesting." A frequently reliable (and sometimes hacky) feature thriller director, Phillip Noyce orchestrates a pilot in which a ton happens in a very condensed time-frame and a lot of it is at least initially entertaining. Unlike "Hostages," which was all about the prolongation of a simple situation, the "Crisis" pilot has a very high narrative burn-rate for a 43-minute network drama. I'd say the pilot has two or three climaxes which, with different arrangement of plotpoints, could have been held to end the second and third episodes, but get plowed through immediately. The immediate concern is whether Ravich threw the kitchen sink into the pilot to make sure it would test well, leaving the cupboard bare, or if he knew he had so much story to tell that he had move at breakneck speed. Ravich has some really poor feature credits, but due to his work on "Life," he's got short-term benefit-of-the-doubt from me. I don't wanna say too much but with Gillian Anderson, Rachael Taylor, Michael Beach and whatever your feelings happen to be towards Mulroney, there's a good cast of familiar stars and the kids, who aren't overburdened in the pilot, seem pretty and not-initially-inept (that's all I can ask). "Crisis" definitely isn't bad, especially if you watch it soon after "Hostages."
Desire To Watch Again: A lot of my desire to watch "Crisis" long-term will depend on where NBC puts it at midseason, but that midseason berth also means that before it premieres critics probably will get three or four episodes as screeners. I'll be happy to watch a couple more and that will give me a better sense of whether Ravich had a full bag of tricks or just enough for a pilot.

 

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