Red Right Hand: PILOT (P)REVIEW: THE NINE
*He is not a secret agent. Not at all.

 

PILOT (P)REVIEW: THE NINE

So, I'm writing this as I watch it, totally unfiltered and without overthinking. I'll also stay spoiler-free. Pretty much.

First thing that struck me on this was "Hey, Chi McBride's got a new look!" A mustache, some hair. Suits him.

Here's how the concept of The Nine is stated:
So much in life is beyond our control. Each day can change the rest of a person's life. Nine people face just such an unexpected twist when they are caught in a bank robbery gone wrong. They must endure a 52-hour hostage standoff that will leave two people dead and seven others changed for the rest of their lives. These nine people will be changed forever and their lives will be intertwined because of these 52 hours.
I'll just say, there's a ton of recognizable faces in this show. Kim Raver, John Billingsley, Tim Daly, the aforementioned McBride. Scott Wolf. More.
Oh, and how about the line that can elicit giggles in the immature. And me. And Kim Raver's character.
"Ma'am, I assure you. Nobody's been inside your box."

Okay, the ensemble drama by Hank Steinberg and K.J. Steinberg starts off with an interview component, apparently outside the show, not part of something in that world. Sometimes these work, and I kinda liked this one. it was a little off-kilter, but didn't come back. Maybe each episode will start like this or something. if it was one off, then it was stupid, because it didn't actually do anything other than let you know something was going to happen. If you're watching the show, you know something's going to happen.

Sometimes these things make or break on how the huge cast is introduced and this one seems to do it pretty effectively. You get a good sense of them going into as the first act builds a crescendo to the coming crime that will change their lives. Some of that is because ther's a lot of cookie-cutter characters in the bunch. Front and center, Tim Daly's gambling maverick cop.

When we come back from black, it's at the end of those 52 hours and very peculiar things happen as the police take action to end the hostage drama. Not supernatural peculiar. Relax. Clearly there's a lot going on in that 52 hours and eventually, I hope we'll see it all. It makes me wonder how much of that 52 hours is mapped out and how much of it is going to be seat-of-the-pants arc'ing.

It's got a good sharp look to it. Great use of color, director Alex Graves wasn't afraid to pop with the palette some. I like that. Too many NBC dramas (which this is not, it's ABC) seem to go with a muted thing. Do not listen to me, I'm not a fucking director.

Second act is short. Picking up the third act, there's no big time jump or other jarring element. Now, it's about the police interrogating the hostages, as they're all suspects in what went down.

At this point, the clues are just being tossed out left and right. Set-up, set-up, and set-up some more. It's not entirely graceful, but it carries through with the hectic situation going on. Someone recognizes someone. There's a connection here. There's an unanswered question there. It's going off like a string of firecrackers.

This clearly going on a variation of the Lost model (another one) where it's a big puzzle and it's success will depend on the suck-in factor. I can see that every week is going to be another tiny piece of information that's built up to be huge and revelatory and ultimately, only gets you a few inches forward. I think there'll even be extensive flashbacks in the future, but not in this pilot.

We get some character development about half way though, somewhat as a respite from the adrenalized infodump we'd been subjected to, and that development is minimal and easy. It's all the change they have coming out the other end of the ordeal. It's easy, but it's necessary. I'm not about to fault anyone for that.

There's not much here that makes me want to come back and watch it, though if nothing else grabs me in the time slot (Kidnapped), I might anyway. I can easily see this series surviving under the radar. It's got the aforemention Lost as a lead-in, so the puzzle-hound may stick around for it. it'll get some drop off, but if it can hold decently against CSI:NY, it'll live. Invasion managed to hang on there for a whole season.

Oh, and I think I see why there's that really short act. I could be wrong, because I stopped counting act breaks and there's no commericals as I watch it, but this might be that five act structure that I so loathe. That will make a less pleasurable watching experience, I think.

I'll tell you something I did like. I dug the candid tone of the restaurant gathering of the hostages near the end of the episode. They've bonded over their ordeal and now they're becoming fast friends (and more in some cases).
©2016 Michael Patrick Sullivan