September 25, 2013

TV: Hostages (Mon 10, CBS)

Hostages wants desperately to be 24 when it grows up, but it's never going to get there. It's a hopeless muddle, filled with embarrassing cliches, like the moment when FBI hostage negotiator Duncan Carlyle (Dylan McDermott) apparently shoots a hostage who turns out to be the hostage-taker: "What if you'd been wrong?!?" "I wasn't."

Our heroine is Dr. Ellen Sanders (Toni Collette), who is (along with her insufferable family) taken hostage by McDermott(*) and ordered to kill the president, on whom she is performing surgery the next day. Were I Collette, I'd be tempted to disobey in the hope that McDermott and his gang would kill my mopy husband (Tate Donovan, who has charged into late middle-age with remarkable speed) and bratty teens.

(* - Yes, that's right, the hostage negotiator is the hostage-taker, because this is a Modern Television Drama, which means lots of Moral Ambiguity, don'cha know.)

Hostages is only scheduled to run for 15 weeks, but it's hard to see how there's enough story here to fill even that limited run. Oh, sure, we can drag an hour or two out of the blackmail-ble secrets of the Sanders family (Adultery! Teen pregnancy! Teen drug dealing!), and the mystery of Carlyle's motivations will no doubt be dragged out for a while, but there's some very thin gruel being served up here.

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