Next one. I hope this won’t be the last pilot to be leaked (considering how Atlantis was leaked as well, it certainly isn’t the only one 😉 ) and I don’t think it hurts a show. If it’s any good, it’ll catch my attention (and therefore get my money via DVD sales).
I approached this one with mixed feelings (and didn’t get through it in one go – possibly a bad sign). I really like Abrams – at least I think I do – and think that Alias was great (still haven’t finished watching all five seasons though) and even enjoyed MI:III (only went to the cinema after it became clear that it’d be a commercial failure – not like I’m gonna support Scientology…). Lost, on the other hand, never caught my attention. Sure, gave it a shot once or twice (once, that I can remember – some season one episode and I left after about five minutes). I’m just not that into mystery. Never liked X-Files. More recently, I stopped watching Heroes after three episodes. That one’s quite undeniably a great show but I just don’t care to watch. I don’t like the “horror”-y episodes on shows that I do like (when I started re-watching Star Trek: Enterprise a couple of years ago, I stopped about ten minutes into season two’s “Dawn“. Last episode I ever watched – that’s how much I dislike the genre).
So, keep all that in mind when reading what I’m gonna say. Once again, let’s start with characters – and I’ll go right into the negative b
efore saying a few positive things. First one: Philip Broyles (Lance Reddick). I’ll be honest and give away a bit of cultural background: he reminds me of Bruce Darnell. Very first thing he does and I never got rid of that feeling throughout the entire pilot. Why is that a bad thing? Because, ladies and gentlemen, Bruce Darnell is a flaming homosexual (no idea whether he’s actually gay but it doesn’t matter) and a (former?) co-host of “Germany’s Next Top Model”. More to the point: very much NOT a tough, secretive guy. Lance Reddick just isn’t convincing enough to make me forget about that – at times, I actually feel he reinforces that image.
Anna Torv’s Olivia Dunham – I can’t remember why she wasn’t open to love, can’t remember what made her change and she isn’t that pretty (even though she’s prettier than I thought at first). See, this is a terribly sexist thing to say but I like my heroines to be all cute face and T&A. Having a great personality written for you sure as hell doesn’t hurt but the rest is a MUST (unless you’re Glenn Close or something). She seems too weak as a personality to be the lead.
John Scott (this one’s the last wholey negative, promise!) – well, you just fucking know he’s gonna be a bad guy as soon as she says “he’d do the same thing for me”, yadda, yadda – instead of a truly interesting, truly different dynamic at the core of the show (a, you know, functioning couple!), we get the same old, same old stuff. This isn’t all bad though as we’ll see later on. On the whole, this character’s just total bullshit – I guess he serves some purpose to set up the larger mythology (which, btw, sucks as well) but you could certainly have done that better.
Which leads us to the better characters. The man and the woman who appear to be friends/partners of Dunham’s – yeah, they’re okay. The male one even got one or two interesting lines.
Dr. Walter Bishop – I’m just gonna say one thing: I’m damn glad they stopped having him be fucking mental. That gets annoying, real fast. And not in a funny way. Good to give him a nice shave, proper hair and decent communicating skills. Don’t even dare to go back to the old one!
Finally, the one truly interesting character. Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson). Sure, having him be a gambler in debt is fucking bullshit (it’s so imaginative even Knight Rider did it!) but that’s not the point. He’s likable, he’s interesting, he’s driven. His background might actually be interesting, the whole romance angle between him and Dunham’s worth noting too (that’s why having Scott dead is good after all). Plenty of potential and Jackson does a good job.
Now, the story. You obviously can’t expect too much (even though it’s a two-hour pilot!) from a show introducing this many characters but it does fall rather flat. The plane-plot is rather boring filler material, the story about setting up the laboratory is okay. Overall, decent but not phenomenal. More problematic: The background mythology. Some guy stole stuff from Dr Bishop and probably made sure he went to jail for a crime he didn’t commit. Evil corporation, secret stuff going on no one knows about, yadda, yadda, yadda. Been there, done that.
Bottom line: a lot more positive than you might expect from what you’ve just read. If you’re into this kind of story, it’s probably a solid 4/5, if you aren’t (just like me!) it isn’t. I hope Abrams doesn’t fuck up Trek and I’ll probably watch another episode of this to see if it improves and moves in a direction more to my liking (it probably won’t) – a not-too-daring prediction though: if this show’s gonna be featured for a longer period of time, dq will have to do the writing. 😉