TV Review: ‘Believe’

Believe NBC TV Review

Kids in peril seem to be a theme of NBC’s midseason lineup, with no one more in jeopardy — or potentially better able to defend herself — than the adorable moppet in “Believe.” A collaboration between J.J. Abrams and Alfonso Cuaron, the series bears a more-than-passing resemblance to the “Terminator” franchise, with a child as the linchpin to the world’s future. Embracing mystical mumbo-jumbo and ignoring lapses in logic are required to enjoy the Cuaron-directed pilot, which sets up a “Fugitive”-style quest. “Think of all the people she’ll help along the way,” says one good guy. If the series lives that long.

Setting up a kid as what amounts to the show’s MacGuffin (something Fox tried not long ago with “Touch”), the premiere opens with the good guys’ leader Milton (Delroy Lindo) breaking a wrongly convicted death-row inmate, Tate (Jake McLaughlin), out of custody, assigning him to serve as the protector of Bo (Johnny Sequoyah). While Tate looks a bit like Jesus with his wild mop of hair and beard, Bo’s the one with messianic powers, and thus being sought by a wealthy industrialist, Skouras (Kyle MacLachlan), who apparently doesn’t have the good sense to dispatch more than one operative to secure her.

Fortunately for the sake of dynamic tension, the forces of good also function with a handicap, with Lindo’s character saying, “We don’t do guns. We’re the good guys.” Still, that rather arbitrary decision, aside from likely irritating the National Rifle Assn., also forces Tate to duke it out with Skouras’ rather unorthodox henchwoman who, alas, seems to like using guns as much as she enjoys snapping necks.

“Why him? Why not me?” one of Milton’s colleagues, played by Jamie Chung, asks regarding the big job saddled on Tate. And while the explanation eventually comes, it’s not particularly satisfying, any more than the secondary plot that has Bo using her otherworldly gifts — a range of powers, from telekinesis to seeing the future — to help restore the faith of a doctor who treats her.

In that respect, despite some beautiful images — starting with bright blue butterflies — “Believe” has the makings of a very old-fashioned procedural, with Tate and Bo destined to journey from place to place changing the lives of those she meets with her cryptic insights while staying one step ahead from those who would capture her.

The irony is that after a preview that follows “The Voice,” fast becoming NBC’s version of a debutante ball, the show goes up against a program with a much more provocative concept and more overtly religious overtones — ABC’s “Resurrection,” which at least initially operates without the kind of pyrotechnics Bo can unleash.

While it’s understandable that NBC would be slightly starstruck over the Abrams-Cuaron pairing (the latter also wrote the pilot, with Mark Friedman), especially with “Gravity’s” success, if that’s as good as it’s going to get, the network’s faith in “Believe” appears to be misguided.

TV Review: 'Believe'

(Series; NBC, Mon. March 10, 10 p.m.)

Production

Filmed in New York by Bad Robot Prods. in association with Warner Bros. Television.

Crew

Executive producers, J.J. Abrams, Alfonso Cuaron, Bryan Burk, Jonas Pate, Hans Tobeason, Mark Friedman; co-executive producers, Kathy Lingg, Holly Harold, Brynne Malone, Robin Veith; producers, Joe Stern, Athena Wickham; director, Cuaron; writers, Cuaron, Friedman; camera, Eric Gautier; production designer, Lester Cohen; editor, Brian A. Kates; music, Steven Price; casting, April Webster. 60 MIN.

Cast

Jake McLaughlin, Johnny Sequoyah, Jamie Chung, Arian Moayed, Kyle MacLachlan, Delroy Lindo

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  1. prano h says:

    I would rather have root canal then see the pile of illogical crap!

  2. Bob says:

    Interesting to note that in the scene at the 5:30 mark that the presidents’ pictures on the wall only include the first G. Bush, Clinton, and Obama, and “conveniently” exclude G.W. Bush. When a ‘fictional’ TV show tries to subliminally re-write history then it’s time to stop watching the TRIPE.

  3. Jill says:

    Wasn’t nearly as good as resurrection and didn’t make any sense at all to me. Hopeful it gets better.

  4. Apparently there are some people who enjoyed this pilot. I wanted to and hoped it would rise above the sentimental cliches it seemed destined for, but it didn’t. The premiere numbers will probably be ok, but I imagine this will flop for NBC pretty quickly http://www.untemperedtv.com/?p=568

  5. Pegge says:

    Loved it and cannot wait for the next episode!

  6. Lance Pubis says:

    Billionaire = Bad guy…”We don’t use guns” = Good guys

    It’s the same Hollywood ‘new-age’ stereotypical boring crap that makes shows seem even dumber than they really are.

    Kung Fu-badass chick who “does” use a gun and is ten times tougher than any man…She fought the lead actor twice and whooped him both times; she also shoots people and kills them (except she can’t seem to hit the lead actor when shooting at him)

    Okay, I know it’s Hollywood; but watching a short woman in high-heels kicking everybody’s ass (and shooting people) going after a guy who is unarmed and doesn’t have the ability to phase her even when he does punch her is not very believable.

    So, do they think I’m going to waste an hour every week watching some guy get beat up by a chick and then run away from her because he has no means to defend himself!

    This show is corny and a dud…it won’t last long.

  7. I just watched the pilot and it was better than I expected after reading several not-so-favorable reviews. It’s kinda refreshing to have a show that not only excites with intrigue and mystery, but also has that feel-good appeal that has all but disappeared from network or cable programming.

  8. Mjkbk says:

    ANOTHER “wealthy industrialist” villain. The originality STUNS.

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