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Review: Frenetic and Crowded, NBC's Drama 'Crisis' Isn't a Problem, Yet


Review: Frenetic and Crowded, NBC's Drama 'Crisis' Isn't a Problem, Yet.


While the narrative framework is one that immediately questions its own longevity, at least for the first two episodes NBC’s suspenseful drama ‘Crisis’ is serviceable and entertaining, albeit rather unremarkable.

In what seems like a story more inclined to a miniseries or anthology treatment, ‘Crisis’ quickly presents the titular chaos that ensues in Washington, D.C., only to very slowly peel back the layers to a complex conspiracy.

The cold open, though, tries half-heartedly and fails miserably to put us at what is assumed to be a high tension moment. This "in medias res" beginning, one that is presumably meant to intrigue and befuddle viewers, features two characters that have no idea what is going on, and rather little suspense.

So let’s forget that, and just start with what comes next, because that’s far more compelling. A school bus of children – the offspring of affluent D.C. power players and politicos, including the president – gets sidetracked and ambushed. Held at gunpoint by people they (and we) thought could be trusted, the teenagers and their two chaperones, including a seemingly ineffectual Dermot Mulroney (‘Crisis’ makes it clear early on that every just "seem"’ to be something – who knows who’s who?), are knocked out and taken to a nicely-decorated and covert mansion.

Review: Frenetic and Crowded, NBC's Drama 'Crisis' Isn't a Problem, Yet.

So ignites the national storm, propelling headstrong and attractive FBI agent Susie Dunn (Rachael Taylor) into action. She is reluctantly paired up with newbie Secret Service agent Marcus Finley (Lance Gross), for he seems (see?) to be the only agent from that department that can be trusted; he also managed to survive being shot during the ambush and flee with a child, so I guess he can be trusted.

Dunn and Finley make up the buddy-cop aspect of this fast-paced and very compact thriller, and that is arguably the most enjoyable part. She is determined, no-nonsense, with something lurking in her past, while he is a neophyte on the job and not especially trusted or trustworthy; and I’m sure he has a past. Finley questions everything, and at the same time Dunn can’t help but occasionally question her own judgment as, wait for it, her niece is among the students captured.

As you can see, ‘Crisis’ is full of (minor and major) twists, maybe a half dozen or so during the pilot, and while it’s in danger of getting too clever for its own good, at least to start it’s intriguing.

The mystery works; there are some genuinely nicely shocking moments as creator Rand Ravich adeptly introduces a slew of characters in the first 10 minutes. The conceit, though, is too on the nose. "How far would you go and what would you do to save your child?" is the phrase the show has promoted, and some of the characters even make a point of saying it.

As our two young leads reluctantly, predictably pair up to solve this elaborate case, the attention shifts to the parents who at not-so-random intervals are given assignments from the captors, like send money, or assassinate someone.

One of those parents is Meg Fitch, played by Gillian Anderson. She is among those Washington super rich and powerful. She is also Dunn’s estranged sister (see! OK, not a twist).

Review: Frenetic and Crowded, NBC's Drama 'Crisis' Isn't a Problem, Yet.

Thus, family drama, mystery, geopolitics, and the aforementioned buddy-cop situation make up this very busy hour-long offering, and while none of the aspects are done poorly, there is nothing that is done particularly great.

‘Crisis’ gets off on the wrong foot, but quickly rights itself, and is worthy of extended viewing. The question you end up asking though isn’t about children, but instead about the livelihood of the show. Surely, this ‘Crisis’ can’t reasonably extend beyond the first season, can it?

Perhaps it could follow something like '24,' where each new season is a new fantastical problem. ‘Crisis,’ though, seemed too grounded to go for something so outlandishly entertaining. It seems unlikely too that the future holds a situation from ‘The Killing,’ in which we more intimately follow the two main agents.

It matters not, for now, but if things continue to get complex and outrageous, you may be able to figure how long the creators plan to draw out this emergency. If the misplaced opening and the many subversions that follow are any indication, ‘Crisis’ aims to please, even if it’s trying too hard to be a lot of things to a lot of people.

‘Crisis’ premieres on Sunday, March 16 at 10/9c on NBC.

- Lance Gross
- Rachael Taylor
- Dermot Mulroney
- Gillian Anderson
- Crisis

Written by: AnthonyWrites
Mar 16th, 2014, 10:31 am

Images courtesy of NBC


Message Posted On Mar 27th, 2014, 1:12 pm
#Karima If anything I think he was fair and open-minded, presenting quite a positive review of the first two episodes. It's the inevitability of where the whole first season is headed that is souring his words.

Level 1 (56%)
Since: 11/Nov/09
Message Posted On Mar 24th, 2014, 6:52 pm

I believe this review to be very harsh and not accurate. More to follow the comments of certain users saying many Americans are dull witted is probably himself/herself full of crap and has a very low perspective of things. Honestly the first two episodes really caught the attention of many viewers. It has flaws but it has much to offer too. Basing the report on just two episodes is really incorrect Mr. Anthony Marcusa. 
I believe the show has potential and it would be good if writers like yourself Mr. Marcusa can stop putting up such negative reviews, that also based on just a couple of episodes. Shows you are quite a judge of things.


Message Posted On Mar 23rd, 2014, 9:44 pm
When I saw the opening shot of the pilot I instantly got weary and stopped watching. I really, really cannot emphasize how much I despise these "one" idea shows whose sole intention is to drag-out a stale 'mystery' for a a whole season (full of 'filler' drama episodes) only to end with an even more annoying cliffhanger. And, should we all have the misfortune to be subjected to a renewal of the series, we then get the opportunity to find out that the writers really have no clue on what needs to come next for the series, as the whole series was based on one idea and around getting to the cliff-hanger reveal of the previous season!

Message Posted On Mar 20th, 2014, 3:58 am
Only one word is needed in a review of this show "crap" as in crap writing, crap acting.

Level 1 (22%)
Points: 1.6
Since: 01/Nov/12
Message Posted On Mar 18th, 2014, 6:01 am

The pilot for Believe sure had similar problems (especially the dumb and boringly predictable  capturing the girl intro.) but Jake McLaughlin managed to do a decent enough performance to save the show from it's hacked writing, and over the top performances, so far.

P.S. - I think that Reddington really is not Agent Keen's father but he was a partner with her father and had to eventually kill him which is what she "must never know".  He probably made a promise to protect her and he's a man of his word.




Message Posted On Mar 16th, 2014, 10:16 pm
Yawn. Lost was full of twists, and still wound up with giving the fans nothing but a crappy ending and failure to deliver what was promised in the first two seasons. Problem is you can not continue to regurgitate stale tropes and expect to captivate anyone but the dull witted. Then again, by modern viewing standards, there are many dull witted in the US. At least you give honest review, not pandering to who ever offers the best payola.
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