Tubin': Analysis, discussion and freak-outs about our favorite TV shows. See More...

Fall TV: Hostages

Emily and Mandy C. continue their Fall TV series with a look at the pilot episode of Hostages. SPOILER ALERT: Toni Collette plays an American.

Fall TV: Hostages

Welcome back to our series of the best* new shows of the fall season. We’re here to help you determine which series you might want to record all season long, what you can save for On Demand weekend marathons and what to not even bother with. We hope you’ll join in the fun.

*This might be a bit subjective on our parts, but whatevs.

(Warning! Possible spoilers ahead.)


Premiered: Sept. 23 on CBS (Watch it online.)

Elevator Pitch

So, one word titles are totally "in" right now, and sometimes it seems like studio execs just go through a very long list of words, pick the one they think will draw the most intrigue/awe/suspense/ratings, and THEN form a show around it. So, for instance, planning for Hostages could have gone a little like this:

Inside Studio Exec's head: Hostages—now that's a terrifying word. And since people obviously love to be scared, that'll get them to watch! But since we are CBS (the most watched network), we need to make it relatable. What's relatable? I know, a family. But why would anyone care about just any family … this family has to be special. But not the dad, that's too obvious, he should be a little dead weight. It should be the mom! (Didn't I hear Toni Collette was looking to do TV since they stupidly didn't cast her in the TV version of About a Boy?) Since the mom is special, they can't take her hostage, it's got to be the family and she has to save them. Is she a female Jack Bauer? No, I like Toni, but she's no Kiefer. I know! She's a doctor about to operate on the president and the bad guys are going to force her to kill him or they'll kill her family. This is brilliant! However, still much too simple. What if the head bad guy (who has to be good looking because this is still about ratings) has some sort of good intention, like his family is also being held hostage? Oh, and even better, what if he works for the government. Not CTU, way too obvious, but how about the guy who comes out when the police have to deal with a hostage situation? (No one will see this coming!) And then, of course, everyone in the family needs a secret the audience can relate to. The husband is having an affair? The perfect son is really—gasp—not perfect? The daughter is—wait for it—pregnant!? But the real icing on the cake, will be when the hostagers (as opposed to kidnappers?) start helping the family cover up their secrets out of the goodness of their hearts because that's what complicated, bad guys with souls, do.

And there's a dog.

Familiar Faces

Toni Collette as Dr. Ellen Sanders

Dylan McDermott as Agent Duncan Carlisle

Tate Donovan as Brian Sanders

Sandrine Holt as Maria Gonzales

Rhys Coiro as Kramer Daly

Billy Brown as Archer Petit

Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio as the First Lady

Redeeming Qualities

Emily: If I'm ever going to be taken hostage, fingers crossed he looks like Dylan McDermott. Not that it's all about the hot guy, but this hot guy has a daughter that he's totally googley over, and it seems like—spoiler alert—SHE'S BEING HELD HOSTAGE, TOO! Well, kind of. So, the question is … who really is the bad guy? I like a show where it's not so cut and dry from the beginning. Also, so far, no characters annoy me. That's a pretty big feat, especially in the pilot.

Mandy: I enjoy the fact that I’m not entirely sure what’s going on behind the main plot to kill the president. I thought I knew what was going on at one point, but then the end left me questioning all I thought I knew. I also like that no one is what they seem—everyone has secrets—and Toni Collette is just a badass in everything she does. That look she gives the camera at the end of the episode? Ice. Cold.

It's Not Me, It's You

Emily: The daughter's pregnant? Really? Is there a twist these days where the daughter's not pregnant (or at least a pregnancy scare)? And excuse me, we don't even pretend to kill a dog. I almost stopped watching at that moment. I know we're going to lose some characters along this journey but cute animals and kids are off limits. I think some of the family secrets might borderline lame, and I don't think Jimmy Cooper would ever have told his wife to kill the president in order to keep his affair a secret. I can suspend belief like the rest of the world, but come on!

Mandy: I talked about this in our original Fall TV: Fresh Meat post, but I’m worried about how this show will translate (or will attempt to translate) to more than one season. I heard an ad on the radio that said the show was only going to be 15 episodes, which makes me feel better, but then I found this article in which Jerry Bruckheimer (Hostages producer) says he wants two seasons or more. I mean, yes, grain of salt #becauseBruckheimer, but … how?

Let's Do This Again

Emily: I'm all in (at least for the moment). While the show wasn't quite as "thriller-like" as I thought it was going to be, I'm always on board with "everyone's got a dark secret." I feel a potential Homeland/ 24/even Prison Break-style wild ride about to begin. I don't know that Hostages will hold up to those shows (because they are AMAZING), but I think there are a plethora of twists and turns to come. Bottom line, though, even if I was on the fence, Toni Collette's final stare into the camera hooked me in. Guys, she is planning something MAJOR, and I have a feeling it'll be awesome!

Mandy: Hostages isn’t my normal fare, but I’ll admit that I am interested to see where the plot takes us. Toni Collette is a big draw for me, and, to reiterate, there’s more going on than meets the eye. I don’t think I’ll be running to the TV every Monday night to catch this one, but there will definitely be some weekend catching-up.

What did you think? Let us know in the comments!

Mandy Curtis's photo About the Author: Mandy is a small town girl living in a nerdy world, or—if you want to get literal—an editor/writer living in Austin, TX. In addition to yearning for YA books—the more dystopian or fantastical, the better—she can also be found swooning over superheroes, dreaming of The Doctor and grinning at GIFs.