August 21, 2006

TV: Kidnapped

Conrad Cain (Timothy Hutton) is a wealthy businessman, ruthless enough that death threats are an occasional part of his life. When 15-year-old son Leopold (Will Denton) is kidnapped, Conrad calls in Knapp (Jeremy Sisto), a former FBI agent who now works privately, specializing in recovering kidnap victims.

(A 15-year-old boy named Leopold? Really?)

It doesn't take long for the FBI to find out about the kidnapping, though; through a twist that's too coincidental even for a TV thriller, Leopold's bodyguard (Mykelti Williamson) is connected somehow (family? friendship? it's not clear yet) to FBI agent Latimer King (Delroy Lindo), who postpones his retirement in order to work on the case. King and Knapp have very different approaches; Knapp relishes the freedom that he has as an independent agent, and the presence of by-the-book FBI agents is cramping his style.

Kidnapped is part of this year's flood of serialized storytelling; the kidnapping story will play out over the course of the entire season. (I will be surprised if Leopold isn't recovered fairly quickly, moving the focus to finding and arresting the kidnappers; Americans don't have a lot of patience for stories about children in jeopardy.)

This is a cast of fine actors (Dana Delany is also on hand as Ellie Cain, Conrad's wife, and she'll surely be given more to do in later episodes than stand in the corner on the verge of tears), and the action scenes are suspenseful and clearly edited. The principal danger, I think, is that Sisto and Lindo share a dark intensity that's often more effective in supporting roles (Sisto was used perfectly in Six Feet Under, for instance); having them both in leading roles, especially where they're likely to be butting heads every week, seems like too much brooding to take on an ongoing basis.

The show may also suffer from the fact that Fox's similarly-themed Vanished (about the disappearance of a Senator's wife), which debuts tonight, and will have been on the air for several weeks when Kidnapped finally arrives; it seems unlikely that both kidnap serials can survive.

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