As this fall’s new TV shows continue to roll out, there’s precious little that’s great, with only a few offerings that could be called good.
ABC’s new Sunday dramas include “Quantico,” which has energy but worrisome weaknesses, and “Blood and Oil,” which isn’t much.
It’s clear from the get-go that “Quantico” will have little resemblance to anything that happens at the real-life military base and FBI training academy just to the north of us.
Instead, this is a terrorism drama for folks who believe a whole class of FBI agents could look like they just walked out of a fashion magazine or, well, a nighttime soap opera on television.
Add action that’s created to be attention-grabbing–a roller coaster of things flung at the screen to make people talk about this show.
Priyanka Chopra is both stunningly beautiful and interesting as Alex Parrish, one of a new class of agents entering the FBI Academy.
But did they really have to have her meet a stranger on a plane, have sex with him moments later in the front of her car and then see him again when she finds they are both members of this FBI class?
That’s a bit much in so many ways.
But all that pales next to what followed in the opening episode.
Using time jumps that will make flashbacks a major part of the storytelling, Parrish wakes up in the middle of a bombed-out building, and is quickly singled out as the terrorist who did the bombing.
We get it, she’s been framed, likely by another member of her academy class. So the only hope of salvation for Parrish, and the show, is to figure out which of her classmates–or teachers–might have framed her and done the evil deed.
For this reviewer, it all came too fast, and was poorly up in the pilot.
But it does make for an interesting backdrop–a world where no one should trust anyone in the FBI, a group that supposedly exists to protect us from all this.
Because of an Academy exercise shared in the flashbacks, we realize that all the agents in training are hiding something, be it a family secret, a earlier misdeed or worse.
We also learn that Parrish has her own history, killing her FBI-agent father as he attacked her mother. And we know that for some reason, he was a black sheep in the agency.
Finding answers to the sudden and twisted questions the opening season posed will be the fuel that makes this show lurch along each week.
I would have preferred a more orderly and fleshed-out introduction of the people and the plot twists, but this show seems to be crafted to address a harsh fact of life TV dramas face these days: Win over attention-challenged viewers immediately or get cancelled in week three.
Given an interesting cast and a narrative that forces action to come fast and furious, this will either solidify and win an audience or self-destruct with episodes that will exhaust viewers.
It helps to have Chopra providing a reason to give it a chance.
BLOOD TOO THICK?
There’s an interesting idea behind the new ABC drama “Blood and Oil.”
Instead of an oil strike in Texas or the push to find gold in California, there’s a modern-day frontier rush at the center of this show, an oil discovery at The Bakken in North Dakota.
That means there’s a rainbow of humanity, folks good and bad piling into a little town in the hopes of striking it rich.
Essentially, it’s “Dallas” in North Dakota, the same mix of starry-eyed upstarts, crazy wildcatters and wealthy barons who want to keep cashing in.
In this show, there’s the rich and ruthless dad (Don Johnson as millionaire Hap Briggs) a hapless but driven young prospector (Chace Crawford as Billy LeFever) and Brigg’s lazy and plotting son (Scott Michael Foster as Wick Briggs) and a host of calculating women in their lives.
We’ve seen this a million times before: rich dad throws lazy son out, brings in gritty young newcomer and starts a major family war.
All the while, the underlying message is that the only thing that truly works in this environment is back-stabbing duplicity.
It’s richly filmed, but as narratively thin as any nighttime soap you’ve ever seen. It’s one of the least appealing shows of the fall season.
This article was written by Rob Hedelt from The Free Lance-Star, Fredericksburg, Va. and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.