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Hostages vs. The Blacklist

September 26, 2013

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It’s not hard to compare Hostages and The Blacklist.  For starters, CBS and NBC put them in the same time slot, Mondays at 10PM.  And that’s not the only similarity they share.  Both shows take place in and around Washington DC. Both have a political bent to them.  And both are meant to be suspenseful.

But that’s where the similarities end.  Where the characters in The Blacklist are intriguing and compelling, most of the characters in Hostages are whiny and frankly, boring.  The Blacklist has witty dialogue, but Hostages has a lot of forced melodrama.  And while The Blacklist set up a formula for it to continue for a while, Hostages looks like it will run out of material very quickly.

In Hostages, Toni Collette plays Dr. Ellen Sanders, a surgeon who is about to operate on the President of the United States.  However, the night before, her family is taken hostage by a seemingly heroic FBI Agent Duncan Carlisle (Dylan McDermott), who is threatening her family with death in order to force her to kill the president on the operating table.

Watching Carlisle and Sanders go head to head in a battle of wills is the only thing that will keep me tuning in until it’s eventually cancelled.  Sanders’ family is full of secrets, from her husband having an affair to her son dealing drugs to her pregnant teen daughter, none of whom are sympathetic characters.  In the meantime, we know that Carlisle has a daughter he loves and a wife in a coma, making him much more interesting to watch, as we try to discern his motives.

In addition to all that, the show is fairly predictable.  There’s a mole in the White House, and it’s revealed in the first episode. My roommate and I were able to quote lines from the show before the characters said them. And Sanders’ family’s secrets were easy to spot right from the introductions of their respective characters.

In comparison, The Blacklist takes off right from the start, jumping straight into the action with Red Reddington (James Spader, one of America’s Most Wanted criminals, leading the FBI, and the audience, on a merry chase as he turns himself in, but still pulls all the strings.  That’s all I really want to say about it, because the show is so compelling, so interesting, so delightful to watch, that I’d rather you just  watch for yourselves and see how fun this show is.

But I will give a little plug for my alma mater.  The female lead in the show is played by Megan Boone, an FSU School of Theatre grad who has been coming up in the industry for a while now. She plays a brand new FBI profiler handpicked by Reddington to be his main contact in the FBI.  Her storyline and his reasons for picking her promise to be earth shattering.

I’ll keep watching Hostages, but only until it gets cancelled, which I’m sure will be soon.  The Blacklist, however, I hope is around for at least three seasons.

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