×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

The Wanted

Show trivializes the battle against terrorism by dressing it up as a reality TV show.

However noble their intentions, the producers of “The Wanted” have achieved the seemingly impossible: trivializing the battle against terrorism by dressing it up as a reality TV show, complete with urgent music, tough-talking direct-to-camera confessionals and what looks to be prominent product placement for Nissan. That this summer series is being presented under the aegis of NBC News marks a lowlight in a year filled with them for the news divisions — and one needn’t be a journalistic purist to find this a troubling sign of where they’re heading.

A New York Times piece set the expectation bar relatively low for this series, which is shot in the style of a “Mission: Impossible” episode. Yet damned if the final result — focusing on “an elite team with backgrounds in intelligence, unconventional warfare and investigative journalism” — still doesn’t limbo under it.

In the premiere, the group sets its sights on Mullah Krekar, the leader of a jihadist organization who is living freely in Norway, apparently because Norwegian authorities refuse to deport him, fearing that he will be tortured or put to death. I say “apparently” because the “Wanted” team limits their on-camera discussions to friendly Norwegian and Iraqi officials who are outraged by this, while working to circumvent these impediments.

The hour builds toward the group actually confronting the mullah, who seems more than happy to grant an interview in order to express his “death to America” sentiments.

What’s ultimately achieved? Although the team and some Norwegians spend a lot of time lauding their efforts, it’s not entirely clear, other than applying the tone and style of “To Catch a Predator” to international terrorism.

That earlier franchise underscored NBC News’ willingness to fully embrace entertainment values to better serve its network in primetime. Driven by this imperative, NBC has been all too happy to taint its news product, dismissing criticism as the harping of elitist pinheads.

Charlie Ebersol, the son of NBC Sports Chairman Dick Ebersol, co-created the program with Adam Ciralsky, and they maintain that it’s a blend of “rigorous investigative journalism with high-end production values.”

One can quibble about the latter half of their appraisal — especially when the participants make such an ostentatious point of renting a Nissan. This much, however, is certain: “The Wanted” represents a numbing extension of the “Predator” mindset — and provides clear grounds for serious internal soul-searching about the values of NBC News.

The Wanted

NBC, Mon. July 20, 10 p.m.

Production: Produced by NBC News. Executive producer, David Corvo; co-executive producers, Adam Ciralsky, Charlie Ebersol.

Crew: RUNNING TIME: 60 MIN.

More TV

  • Kasi LemmonsNew York Women in Film

    Kasi Lemmons, Jane Rosenthal, Ann Dowd Talk Golden Globes Female Director Snub

    The absence of women among director nominees for the Golden Globes is another example of how much work remains to be done to achieve gender parity in the entertainment industry, honorees said Tuesday night at the 40th annual Muse Awards presented by New York Women in Film and Television. “Harriet” director Kasi Lemmons, “The Irishman” [...]

  • The Flash -- "Crisis on Infinite

    'Crisis on Infinite Earths' Recap: A Rewritten Destiny Brings Another Superhero Death

    SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched “Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part Three,” “The Flash” episode of the 2019 “Arrowverse” crossover. Tuesday night was the official midpoint of the ambitious “Crisis on Infinite Earths” crossovers, with an episode of “The Flash” that also marked the final episode of the year for the [...]

  • THE MASKED SINGER tree identity ana

    'The Masked Singer' Reveals the Identity of the Tree

    SPOILER ALERT: Do not read ahead, if you have not watched the episode of “The Masked Singer,” which aired on Dec. 10 on Fox. “The Masked Singer” has sent home another character — and more importantly, has unmasked that contestant. On Tuesday’s episode, titled “A Pain in the Mask,” the tree was revealed to be [...]

  • THE MASKED SINGER semi finals

    Everything to Know About 'The Masked Singer' Semi-Finals

    Television’s breakout reality show, “The Masked Singer,” wraps up its second season, unmasking a winner, next week — but first, the quirky competition show will celebrate the holidays. Teeing up the grand finale of the inarguable hit series, Fox is giving extra airtime to the show this week with a two-night event. Tuesday night, the [...]

  • daredevil Marvel Netflix

    Marvel to Shutter Television Division

    Marvel’s television division is officially winding down. Variety has learned that Marvel Television will no longer be developing any new series beyond the shows that are currently in production. According to an individual with knowledge of the situation, Marvel will eliminate a number of positions in the near future as a result of the cessation [...]

  • Kaya Scodelario

    TV News Roundup: Netflix's 'Spinning Out' With 'Skins' Star Kaya Scodelario Gets Premiere Date

    In today’s TV news roundup, Netflix reveals the premiere date for “Spinning Out,” and USA reveals a first look at Ethan Hawke’s return to “The Purge” universe.  DATES Netflix‘s “Spinning Out,“ starring “Skins’s” Kaya Scodelario and from showrunners Lara Olsen (“Reign”) and Samantha Stratton, premieres Jan. 1. The series follows Scodelario’s Kat, a high-level figure skater [...]

  • Philip MckeonPhilip Mckeon

    'Alice' Child Star Philip McKeon Dies at 55

    Philip McKeon, known for playing the son of Linda Lavin’s titular character in the classic CBS sitcom “Alice,” has died. He was 55. The actor died Tuesday morning in Texas following a longtime illness, family spokesman Jeff Ballard confirmed to Variety. “We are all beyond heartbroken and devasted over Phil’s passing,” said Ballard. “His wonderful [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content