×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

TV Review: ‘Treadstone’

Treadstone,” which begins in East Berlin in 1973 and zooms ahead to multiple locations in the present day, is, we’re told in its credits, “based on an organization from the Bourne series of novels by Robert Ludlum.” The description seems apt, in its clunky way. The Treadstone organization, which trains people to be supersoldiers and to keep their tactical knowledge subconsciously buried, is an element of Jason Bourne’s story now surgically cut off from the context and narrative richness of a good novel or film. And “Treadstone” feels, too, based on an organization and not a novel or film in its rigorous movement between plotlines, something that comes to feel less like narrative balance and more like mandated check-ins on a show that hasn’t yet decided what it wants to be about. 

These plotlines are generally similar enough: A person, somewhere, comes to realize the powers they contain within them, perhaps by being activated or by being forced in a moment of high tension to use violence. These individuals all seem to connect back to a Soviet plot, in a manner that feels less like an intriguing conspiracy and more like the realization that there needed to be some larger story or set of stakes than simply Bourne-again fighters emerging to battle. 

It’s worth noting that said battle sequences, violent fights carried out by unlikely-seeming fighters, are vervy fun; though this show isn’t trying to measure up to the quality of Paul Greengrass’s “Bourne” movies, it brings with it some of the funky energy. (The actress Han Hyo-joo’s action work here, interspersed between quiet scenes of domestic life, deserves special mention.) And, at a more sprawling length than any individual “Bourne” movie, the series has room to do the sort of who-am-I, what-was-I-made-for contemplation that Damon’s Jason Bourne didn’t allow himself; perhaps the show’s most promising plotline is that of Patrick Fugit, a perpetually rewarding actor who, as a math teacher with hidden rage, confronts that which is haunting him, or programmed within him. 

But Han’s and Fugit’s work are two fractional slices of a show whose ambition to try to capture a world’s worth of adventure seems, too often, like taking the easy way out from digging too deeply into story or character. Right now, “Treadstone” is a diverting series about an organization so diffuse that it’s easier understood as background noise between action. In the episodes and, perhaps, seasons to come, I’m hoping the show gives us more by paring back.

“Treadstone.” USA. Oct. 15. Ten episodes (four screened for review).

Cast: Michelle Forbes, Patrick Fugit, Michael Gaston, Shruti Haasan, Hyo Joo Han, Tess Haubrich, Tracy Ifeachor, Jeremy Irvine. 

Executive Producers: Tim Kring, Ben Smith, Jeffrey Weiner.

TV Review: 'Treadstone'

More TV

  • Ted Sarandos Netflix

    Ted Sarandos: Netflix Is Why 'Friends,' 'The Office' Remain So Popular

    In an onstage conversation with Katie Couric at Vanity Fair’s New Establishment Summit on Wednesday, Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos waved away concerns over the streaming service’s upcoming loss of “Friends” and “The Office,” instead focusing on the company’s push in original programming and its international content growth. “One of the reasons ‘Friends’ and [...]

  • Castle Rock -- "Let The River

    'Castle Rock' Boss on Annie Wilkes' Origins, Telling an Immigration Story in Season 2

    SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched the first three episodes of “Castle Rock” Season 2, streaming now on Hulu. When “Castle Rock” co-creators and executive producers Dusty Thomason and Sam Shaw were first researching Maine to develop their Hulu anthology series based on the world of Stephen King, something that [...]

  • 'Adventure Time': HBO Max Orders Four

    'Adventure Time': HBO Max Orders Four One-Hour Specials

    Less than a week after announcing its historic deal with Studio Ghibli, HBO Max is continuing its push into animation. The forthcoming streamer has ordered four one-hour “Adventure Time” specials from Cartoon Network Studios, the first two of which will debut exclusively on HBO Max in 2020. Collectively titled “Adventure Time: Distant Lands,” the specials [...]

  • Euphoria HBO

    'It's an Explosion': Inside the Rising Costs of Making a Scripted TV Series

    When Apple TV plus launches on Nov. 1, it will do so with what’s arguably the most expensive new-series lineup in TV history. Among the streamer’s initial offerings are the drama “The Morning Show,” bearing a price tag believed to be more than $15 million an episode, and the dystopian sci-fi series “See,” which is [...]

  • Peter Coyote, winner of the award

    Peter Coyote to Play Robert Mueller in CBS Studios James Comey Miniseries

    The CBS Studios miniseries based on James Comey’s  book “A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies and Leadership” has added another player. Robert Coyote has boarded the show to play Robert Mueller, Comey’s predecessor in the role of FBI Director, who was appointed to lead an investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. His final [...]

  • CBS HEADQUARTERS

    Wall Street Trims ViacomCBS Forecasts After Post-Deal Financial Disclosure

    Top media analysts have cut their short-term growth prospects for ViacomCBS following last week’s financial disclosures that came as part of the closing of CBS Corp.’s stock-swap takeover deal for Viacom. In the Oct. 17 filing, CBS Corp. released specific year-to-year projections for its free cash flow yield, guidance that the company has not offered [...]

  • CBS

    CBS Sets Six Participants in 2019-20 Writers Mentoring Program

    CBS has announced the six writers who will participate in its 2019-2020 Writers Mentoring Program. The eight-month mentoring program, set up in 2004, aims to provide access and opportunity for writers by pairing them with a CBS executive mentor who helps them develop a new piece of material. Following the mentorship period, the writers will [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content