Driving around town, I've been seeing billboards for the upcoming TV series, Hostages. I saw a promo for it a while ago and...well, I have to admit I don't get what they're going for. I have to assume they do, and have to assume there's a lot that I'm missing. But I'm still missing it.
To be clear, I think this is a great premise for a movie. A doctor's family is kidnapped and held hostage, and she has to do something to help the kidnapper kill the President of the United States. It might even make a great three-part miniseries. Or five parts. But I'm scratching my head how they're going to stretch this for full 22-episode season.
Let me correct that: I'm scratching my head how they're going to stretch this out for five years. That's what most networks would just love for their investment in a series. But five years aside, I'm not even sure how they'd get a second year out of this. Let alone the first.
I know that the series 24 was able to stretch a single day into a full season, one hour a week. But that show gave the protagonist a monumental world event to resolve, and each hour had him in some action-packed thriller to uncover and get him closer to his task -- and they still only got a single year out of it. They had to come up with a whole new disaster the next season. What is this show going to do? Have a new kidnapping every year? I suppose they could. It would seem to be a tad repetitive, though.
But further, even accepting that they can stretch the plot out for a whole year -- you have two main characters, as far as I can tell: 1) someone who is a restricted, manipulated victim, and 2) a terrorist trying to kill the president. Neither of these strike me as people I want to invite into my home week after week. After week after week....
I'm sure the doctor tries to figure a way out of this dilemma each week. But unlike 24 where every episode has an exciting event that gets him accomplishing something to bring him one step closer to resolving the terrorist attack -- on Hostages each week, whatever it is that the doctor does, whatever she accomplishes, the family is still going to be held hostage at the end of the episode. She would seem back to square one. I will guess that she gets others involved, little by little. But it would have to be a small, ineffective circle because that family still has to stay hostages.
And I'm sure that the terrorist kidnapper will be a compelling character. But the thing is, once the family is kidnapped, he doesn't seem to have a whole lot to do until the last episode.
And that's still accepting that they can stretch this frustration out for one whole year. That still leaves seasons 2-5.
I'm sure I'm missing something. For the network's sake, I hope I am. The one-line premise is wonderful. And I'm equally sure the networks and writers can explain their concept of why this all will work and be compelling for years. But I'm also sure the Titanic looked good on paper, too.
And yes, I know that the Titanic did work great as a movie. But can you imagine watching that ship go down week after week? For years...
None of this means I'm right. I'm just scratching my head to figure out why I'm wrong.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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