Wednesday, October 04, 2006

TV premiering tonight: The Nine

The latest attempt to capitalize on the Lost lead-in comes with high expectations, and the results are mixed. Maybe I'm just still slightly bitter from the cancellation of Invasion, but this didn't immediately strike me as something so much better, although I suppose they've learned from the slow, methodical initial pacing of Invasion that turned a lot of people off, as this show is much more fast-paced and energetic. While I do like the central gimmick (the main characters were hostages in a bank-robbery standoff for 52 hours, and each episode follows them in their post-trauma lives while also revealing a few minutes of the actual robbery), it's obviously got a limited shelf life, and once all the details of the robbery are revealed, the characters will have to be interesting enough on their own without the narrative device to keep the show going.

A show simply about the aftermath of a hostage situation and how people were changed would sound interesting enough to me, and the addition of the willfully obscure mystery elements doesn't really make it more interesting to me. This is one of those shows where characters will essentially have a conversation like, "Hey are we going to talk about that really important, life-changing thing that happened during the bank robbery?" "No, let's wait until three episodes from now to talk about it." That sort of thing is just infuriating to viewers because it's so contrived, and it means the mystery is developing artificially. Or, to put it another way: On Lost, we mostly learn things as the characters learn them, so we want them to find out what's going on as much as we want to find out ourselves. But on this show, the characters already know the answers to the mysteries, and they're just keeping them from us.

Despite these problems, I still think this is a good show with lots of potential, mainly because the characters are interesting enough that I could see them carrying a series without the narrative gimmick, and because the old-fashioned cliffhanger at the end of the first episode made me want to find out what happened next. The acting is good and the premise does hook you, so I'll definitely be watching, at least for a little while. ABC, Wednesdays, 10 p.m.

No comments: