The Grid

Production notes state that this limited series employs a "documentary-like style," which includes identifying characters onscreen much like a newscast. Forgive the skepticism, but it's equally plausible someone wanted to help make sense of a convoluted mish-mash that never quite coalesces.

With:
Maren Jackson - Julianna Margulies Max Canary - Dylan McDermott Derek Jennings - Bernard Hill Emily Tuthill - Jemma Redgrave Acton Sandman - Tom Skerritt Hudson Benoit - James Remar Raza Michaels - Piter Marek Jane McCann - Paula Devicq Dr. Raghid Mutar - Silas Carson Jay Aldrich - Robert Forster

Production notes state that this limited series employs a “documentary-like style,” which includes identifying characters onscreen much like a newscast. Forgive the skepticism, but it’s equally plausible someone wanted to help make sense of a convoluted mish-mash that never quite coalesces. Filled with awkward political oratory and cliched dialogue, this globetrotting, “Traffik”-like yarn from one of that mini’s producers gets derailed by too many ill-defined characters and moving parts.

TNT has certainly done a laudable job promotion-wise, unleashing a barrage of spots during its NBA playoff coverage. Unfortunately, this six-hour enterprise does little to merit such largess, despite the timeliness of its “war on terrorism” theme and exploration of how bureaucratic nonsense affects all sides.

In this case, it’s a terrorist cell with nefarious (and nebulous) plans, and the efforts of U.S. and British counter-terrorism forces to thwart them. After a mishap involving deadly sarin gas in a London hotel, it’s decided to create a multi-agency team under National Security Council operative Maren Jackson (Julianna Margulies), tapping FBI agent Max Canary (Dylan McDermott) to work with her. This irks the CIA’s counter-terrorism czar (Tom Skerritt), who seems more interested in staking out turf than nabbing bad guys.

The Brits, meanwhile, have their own group under MI5’s Derek Jennings (Bernard Hill), who plays nice with the Americans; and MI6 director Emily Tuthill (Jemma Redgrave), who doesn’t. “We were enlisted to find what wasn’t there and take the blame for not finding it,” the latter harrumphs at one point regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Ken Friedman’s script delves into the terrorist operation as well, though the need to balance the negative portrayal of Islamic radicals results in lots of stilted exchanges about the religion being sullied by Jihadists.

Nor are snatches from the agents’ personal lives much more convincing. Max has hooked up with the wife of a friend killed in the Sept. 11 attacks, while Maren is involved with an oil exec (James Remar) she’s so hot for that they can’t make it through dinner. “You’re not hungry?” he asks. “Not for food,” she purrs coyly, eliciting the wrong kind of groans.

The narrative careens to and fro under Mikael Salomon’s direction, introducing characters and locations so rapidly that none of the cast really registers, though it’s reassuring to see all these ex-series stars gainfully employed. Indeed, about all that can be stitched together from the various plot threads is that something bad is gonna happen soon if the good guys don’t get their act together quick, and little is done to cut through that murkiness in the third and fourth hours.

Certainly, Fox’s “24” has demonstrated that paralleling uncomfortable reality isn’t necessarily a turnoff, though that show has managed to cast the issue in ethical terms — asking how far the government will go, and what sacrifices are justified, in the name of protecting us. By contrast, the story here wanders as if unable to select a direction, flitting from action yarn to exploring terror’s roots to wonkish treatise on interagency bickering.

The limited series format makes sense for cable, where the intent is to fleetingly garner attention with an entry like USA’s “The 4400” or Sci Fi’s “Five Days to Midnight” without requiring a long-term commitment. Like those earlier projects, however, “The Grid” possesses worthwhile elements but ultimately appears unable to connect the dots.

The Grid

TNT, Mon. July 19, 9 p.m.

Production: Filmed in Toronto, London and Morocco by Fox Television Studios in association with Groveland Pictures and Carnival Films. Executive producers, Tracey Alexander, Brian Eastman; co-executive producers, Joshua Brand, Patrick Shane Duncan, Ken Friedman; producer, Mitch Engel; director, Mikael Salomon; writer, Friedman; story by Alexander, Friedman.

Crew: Camera, Jon Joffin, Seamus Deasy; editor, Robert A. Ferretti; music, Ramin Djawadi; production designer, David Hackl, Rob Hinds; casting, Lynn Kressel, Suzanne Crowley, Gilly Poole, Jon Comerford. 2 HOURS

Cast: Maren Jackson - Julianna Margulies Max Canary - Dylan McDermott Derek Jennings - Bernard Hill Emily Tuthill - Jemma Redgrave Acton Sandman - Tom Skerritt Hudson Benoit - James Remar Raza Michaels - Piter Marek Jane McCann - Paula Devicq Dr. Raghid Mutar - Silas Carson Jay Aldrich - Robert Forster

More TV

  • Jenna Dewan28th Annual Environmental Media Association

    Jenna Dewan Joins 'The Resident' Season 2 in Recurring Role

    Production notes state that this limited series employs a “documentary-like style,” which includes identifying characters onscreen much like a newscast. Forgive the skepticism, but it’s equally plausible someone wanted to help make sense of a convoluted mish-mash that never quite coalesces. Filled with awkward political oratory and cliched dialogue, this globetrotting, “Traffik”-like yarn from one […]

  • Julie Chen hosts the second live

    TV Ratings: Steady 'Big Brother' Tops Sunday

    Production notes state that this limited series employs a “documentary-like style,” which includes identifying characters onscreen much like a newscast. Forgive the skepticism, but it’s equally plausible someone wanted to help make sense of a convoluted mish-mash that never quite coalesces. Filled with awkward political oratory and cliched dialogue, this globetrotting, “Traffik”-like yarn from one […]

  • BMG to Relaunch ‘Live from Daryl’s

    ‘Live from Daryl’s House’ to Relaunch in the Fall Via BMG Partnership (EXCLUSIVE)

    Production notes state that this limited series employs a “documentary-like style,” which includes identifying characters onscreen much like a newscast. Forgive the skepticism, but it’s equally plausible someone wanted to help make sense of a convoluted mish-mash that never quite coalesces. Filled with awkward political oratory and cliched dialogue, this globetrotting, “Traffik”-like yarn from one […]

  • Link TV Launches Major Rebrand, Scheduling

    Link TV Launches Major Rebrand, Scheduling Overhaul (EXCLUSIVE)

    Production notes state that this limited series employs a “documentary-like style,” which includes identifying characters onscreen much like a newscast. Forgive the skepticism, but it’s equally plausible someone wanted to help make sense of a convoluted mish-mash that never quite coalesces. Filled with awkward political oratory and cliched dialogue, this globetrotting, “Traffik”-like yarn from one […]

  • Netflix Drops 'Stranger Things' Season 3

    Watch: 'Stranger Things' Heads to the Mall for Season 3 Teaser

    Production notes state that this limited series employs a “documentary-like style,” which includes identifying characters onscreen much like a newscast. Forgive the skepticism, but it’s equally plausible someone wanted to help make sense of a convoluted mish-mash that never quite coalesces. Filled with awkward political oratory and cliched dialogue, this globetrotting, “Traffik”-like yarn from one […]

  • Danielle Brooks as Taystee in Orange

    TV Review: 'Orange is the New Black' Season 6

    Production notes state that this limited series employs a “documentary-like style,” which includes identifying characters onscreen much like a newscast. Forgive the skepticism, but it’s equally plausible someone wanted to help make sense of a convoluted mish-mash that never quite coalesces. Filled with awkward political oratory and cliched dialogue, this globetrotting, “Traffik”-like yarn from one […]

  • 'Unreal' Creator on the Series Finale,

    'Unreal' Creator on the Series Finale, Tackling Sexual Assault, and Making a Film about ISIS (EXCLUSIVE)

    Production notes state that this limited series employs a “documentary-like style,” which includes identifying characters onscreen much like a newscast. Forgive the skepticism, but it’s equally plausible someone wanted to help make sense of a convoluted mish-mash that never quite coalesces. Filled with awkward political oratory and cliched dialogue, this globetrotting, “Traffik”-like yarn from one […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content