TV Review: ‘The Messengers’

Shantel VanSanten, Jon Fletcher, Sofia Black-D’Elia, JD Pardo, Joel Courtney, Anna Diop, Craig Frank, Diogo Morgado

Yell “Stop!” at any time if this sounds familiar: A strange object strikes Earth with a blinding flash, triggering near-death episodes — and unleashing extraordinary powers — in five otherwise-unrelated strangers. Suddenly, they are part of something much bigger (what exactly being anybody’s guess), along with a woman who unexpectedly stirs out of her coma after seven years. Filled with religious overtones — including a mysterious figure known only as the Man — CW’s new drama “The Messengers” hints at the Rapture and Apocalypse, but based strictly on the busy, confusing pilot, it had better start getting somewhere soon, if not now.

The fantastic five altered (or perhaps awakened) by the object include a scientist (Shantel VanSanten), a young mother (Sofia Black-D’Elia) with an abusive ex-husband, an undercover federal agent (JD Pardo) braving field work with the drug cartels, a young televangelist (Jon Fletcher), and a bullied high-school student (Joel Courtney).

Clearly, the eerie visions and flashes of inexplicable power suggest something miraculous has happened, and the ominous, otherworldly qualities projected by the Man (Diogo Morgado, at the risk of being typecast after playing Jesus in History’s miniseries “The Bible”) hint that if these people have the capacity to do good, they are also potentially going to be confronted by great evil.

Still, as constructed — in a pilot written by Eoghan O’Donnell, directed by Stephen Williams and overseen by “Revolution” alum Trey Callaway — “The Messengers” is one of those teasing constructs that elicits more skepticism than enthusiasm, initially revealing little about the nature of the threat or what must be done to prevent it, while introducing its players without conjuring much of an investment in them.

Indeed, as crafted, the approach largely brings to mind “Heroes,” a series that began with abundant promise (more, it’s worth noting, than this one) but was unable to sustain the requisite twists and turns.

Scheduling the show on Friday night, CW has modest hopes and expectations for this hour. Still, for those who sample “The Messengers,” feeling inspired to stick with it will require a considerable leap of faith, based on a premiere that doesn’t earn its wings.

TV Review: 'The Messengers'

(Series; CW, Fri. April 17, 9 p.m.)

Production: Filmed in New Mexico by Thunder Road Pictures in association with CBS Television Studios and Warner Bros. Entertainment.

Crew: Executive producers, Trey Callaway, Basil Iwanyk; co-executive producers, Eoghan O’Donnell, Kent Kubena, Ava Jamshidi; producer, Stewart A. Lyons; director, Stephen Williams; writer, O’Donnell; camera, Sid Sidell; production designer, Charlie Lagola; editor, Jeff McEvoy; music, Paul Haslinger; casting, Nancy Nayor. 60 MIN.

Cast: Shantel VanSanten, Jon Fletcher, Sofia Black-D’Elia, JD Pardo, Joel Courtney, Anna Diop, Craig Frank, Diogo Morgado

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