CW has enjoyed such an admirable run with its recent development that the network was probably overdue for a genuine clunker. And it gets one, big-time, with “Containment,” a thoroughly uninspired drama about a pandemic, focusing on the officials charged with controlling the crisis and those cordoned off in harm’s way. While anyone in TV can come down with a bad case of the blahs, for the network’s sake, let’s hope this one doesn’t go viral.
Exhibiting parallels to a long list of movies (“Contagion” and “Outbreak” come to mind) and adapted from a Belgian series, “Containment” has been entrusted to “The Vampire Diaries’” Julie Plec and director David Nutter, ostensibly a formidable tandem. But the resulting drama and cast simply fail to ignite, with the latter having seemingly been chosen more for their summer-catalog potential than anything approaching more helpful strains of chemistry.
The action opens on what a chyron notes is “Day 13” of the crisis, with all hell breaking loose. Flash back to “Day 1,” when the epidemic strikes, and authorities quickly move to mitigate the threat by isolating those who were potentially exposed.
The task of maintaining order, meanwhile, largely falls to a member of the Atlanta police, Lex Carnahan (David Gyasi), who must not only navigate the butt-covering antics of his superiors, but fret about his girlfriend (Christina Moses) and friend/colleague (Chris Wood), who are both confined within the quarantine area.
If the premiere provides a certain amount of tension in their predicament, the initial scenes of chaos and the search for “patient zero,” subsequent episodes do little to distinguish key players, among them a pregnant teenager (Hanna Mangan Lawrence) separated from her boyfriend, an elementary school teacher (Kristen Gutoskie) caught behind the cordon with her entire class, and a medical researcher (George Young) who is intent upon finding a cure.
Whatever progress the good doctor makes in discovering the right formula, the ingredients in “Containment” could hardly seem more generic, as the narrative oscillates between the two sides of the barrier. And while the barricaded population may not be able to escape, all viewers will need to escape a similar fate is a functioning remote control.
CW describes the show as an “event series,” and it’s leaving the door open for the program to continue if successful. The network also is providing “Containment” a plum time slot, scheduled after one of its biggest hits, “The Flash.” Then again, there’s a certain twisted logic to that: When faced with the prospect of watching beyond the half-dozen episodes previewed, the temptation is to run, not walk.