TV Review: ‘Crisis’

Crisis NBC TV Review

Like a lot of big dramatic concepts, “Crisis” comes with a pretty impressive array of moving parts: A group of kidnapped D.C. teenagers that includes the President’s son; the well-connected parents of those kids; the FBI and Secret Service agents trying to get them back; and of course the bad guys. It’s all enough to make for a reasonably entertaining pilot, while inviting skepticism about how long the producers can keep those multiple plates spinning, a la NBC’s “The Event” or (more recently) CBS’ “Hostages.” For now, it’s an intriguing enough premise to warrant continued attention.

Inordinately well prepared, the kidnappers strike early, snatching a bus that carries children of privilege who attend a private school. While the transport is filled with the progeny of diplomats and CEOs, the presence of the First Teenager (there’s some debate over whether he was the target or an unexpected bonus) causes understandable panic by the authorities — and apprehension about law enforcement’s priorities among the scared parents.

Almost immediately, the show (created by Rand Ravich, with a pilot directed by Phillip Noyce) starts disgorging backstories about the web of relationships among those involved. They range from the FBI agent (Rachael Taylor) who catches the assignment to the billionaire executive (Gillian Anderson) with whom she has history, from the estranged father (Dermot Mulroney) who happens to be along for the ride to the Secret Service newbie (Lance Gross) who has an especially trying first day on the job.

What remains fuzzy, and purposely so, is what the kidnappers’ end game is, although their objective goes well beyond money to the kind of favors they can extract from the terrified parents so long as their children remain captive. “What will you do for your child?” an altered voice asks in the second hour. “How far will you go?”

It’s an interesting idea, but it still doesn’t fully address how the show is going to stretch the hostage scenario out long enough to prevent “Crisis” from becoming its own kind of logistical ordeal. Because simply putting a different parent through the old American Express card test each week (“Your kid’s just been kidnapped. What will you do?”) doesn’t sound particularly inviting.

On the plus side, the series does have a deep bench in terms of its cast (Michael Beach plays the FBI director), although one suspects the high-school-level histrionics involving the kids might be the first part that begins wearing thin — an excuse for NBC to court the CW demographic in the midst of a “24”-like thriller.

NBC gave the show the requisite push during the Olympics, but the program is essentially being asked (along with Sunday companion “Believe”) to be a self-starter, never an easy task for this sort of new series.

In that regard, “Crisis” represents a sizable leap of faith, both for the network and viewers choosing to board this bus, and who — like the kidnappers — have no assurance the gamble is going to pay off.

TV Review: 'Crisis'

(Series; NBC, Sun. March 16, 10 p.m.)


Filmed in Chicago by 20th Century Fox Television.


Executive producers, Rand Ravich, Far Shariat, Phillip Noyce; co-executive producers, Mark Piznarski, Erik Oleson, Dawn DeNoon; producer, J.B. Moranville; director, Noyce; writer, Ravich; camera, Elliot Davis; production designer, Beth Rubino; editor, Martin Nicholson; casting, Robert Ulrich, Eric Dawson, Carol Kritzer. 60 MIN.


Gillian Anderson, Dermot Mulroney, Lance Gross, Rachael Taylor, James Lafferty, Max Martini, Halston Sage, Stevie Lynn Jones, Max Schneider, Michael Beach, Joshua Erenberg.

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  1. maria hicks says:

    how long are they going to drag this kidnaping?

  2. rosestoraska says:

    Stick to “Saturday Night Live” my friend? That’s your genre!

    What I like after both episodes is that it gives reason to watch if one recognizes good writing and excellent production work. Outside of Jay Leno I never ventured into NBC land as it hasn’t produced much in the way of good TV for sometime. However, Sunday night at 10 pm is now flagged on my cell, notepad and computer. Crisis provides another and special bonus and that is having Gillian Anderson center stage as a major and contributing character. Now, there is true art in motion. The woman captivates any scene she is in making it hard to notice that there is a larger ensemble surrounding her. That said, more than enough good stuff to enjoy on a Sunday night in the arm chair! I’m not one to waste time.

    • Debra says:

      This new series has us on the edge of our couch! We can not wait until Sunday night for the next episode! It is smart, fast, exciting and draws you in emotionally! The unexpected twists and turns are a great surprise! The cast is outstanding! 5 stars!!!!!!

  3. jim says:

    First episode good – second sucks

  4. Tawa says:

    I cant believe anyone would find this series riveting, it is so not possible in real life where well trained agents with high level clearance allow pieces of information useful to the search be on hold, not telling her partner, or calling it for review. Pic from the kidnapper sit on her table without first passing it out for analysis and it is there in the FBI building. There are to many hunches( gut and all) on the part of the agents. I am definitely out of here, try to be real not join stories together based on lapses here and there.

  5. Gentle Viewer says:

    Hmmmm. Possibly the reviewer here got himself a little too far ahead of himself expecting “cliché”….this is Rand Ravich and Far Shariat. Think again maybe….

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