With 7.41 million viewers, Monday night's series premiere of “Hostages” on CBS finished third in its time slot behind NBC's “The Blacklist” (12.58 million) and ABC's “Castle” (11.46 million) and in ninth place for the night.
In the 18-to-49 demographic, “The Voice” and “The Blacklist” were the top two shows for the night with 4.9 and 3.8 ratings, respectively. CBS' “How I Met Your Mother” took the No. 3 spot in the category with a 3.6 rating.
Have you ever been forced to do something that you didn't really want to do at work? Such is the plot for “Hostages,” a drama that puts Dr. Ellen Sanders, a Washington D.C. area surgeon played by Toni Collette, in this predicament.
It's not Sanders' employer that puts her in the uncomfortable, and scary, situation. It's a group of terrorists that break into her home, hold her family captive, and demand that she cause the death of the person who she is supposed to operate on the next day: the President of the United States.
No, these terrorists aren't Al Qaeda operatives, they're a group of presumably American people led by FBI agent Duncan Carlisle, played by Dylan McDermott.
Confused? Don't worry about it, so were the rest of us.
Carlisle tells Sanders that if she doesn't go along with the plan to kill the president, his terrorist group will kill her family.
Given the backstory that reveals Carlisle's identity as an FBI agent, we're left to wonder why these terrorists – an FBI agent even – are making such demands.
Carlisle alludes to bad things having to take place for good things to come to pass, but no specifics are given as to what he's talking about.
Can't spill the beans this early in the series.
Mixed in with this unenviable situation is a glimpse into the Sanders' family troubles, which include the teenage daughter discovering she's pregnant and the teenage son's drug dealing woes. Not to mention the husband, played by Tate Donovan, who is not the faithful spouse he appears to be.
Although “Hostages” may sound like a soap opera, it does have its strong points, such as the dominant ethical dilemma Sanders faces and the difficult choice she has to make—which was averted for at least one episode.
Which brings up another point: How often can the good doctor put off the captors' demands before one of her options goes down? Surely not long enough to sustain a long-running series.
“Hostages” does not suffer from bad acting or writing. What it suffers from most is the lack of a strong plot, which is good for a movie, but not for a TV series.
Then again, maybe there's enough twists and turns in the near future to create the basis for a multi-season run. If that's the case, CBS better figure out a better time slot and night if the show is going to survive beyond October.
Given its tepid ratings out of the gate, good writing and acting might not be enough to save this show.
For now, “Hostages” has hooked this viewer enough to tune in again next week, but no promises beyond that.
“Hostages” airs on Mondays at 9 p.m. on KUTV 2 in Provo.
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