Nine surviving hostages from a spectacular bank hold-up meet regularly. The memories keep haunting them, in flash-backs slowly revealing that story. Two surviving perpetrators in jail, ...
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Nine surviving hostages from a spectacular bank hold-up meet regularly. The memories keep haunting them, in flash-backs slowly revealing that story. Two surviving perpetrators in jail, brothers, and the police, including survivor Nick, also remain focused on its aftermath, which keeps affecting all of them, their loved ones, colleagues etcetera.Written by
Nine strangers walk into a bank, followed by a pair of violent deranged robbers. 52 hours later they are released. What happened in that time we don't know, but as each episode unfolds we get an hour-by-hour account of how it all went to hell inside. The survivors now bonded together by trauma, including cop Tim Daley, boyfriend Scott Wolf, politician's wife Kim Raver ("24") and bank manager Chi McBride.
While it sounds like an exciting premise, "The Nine" comes off more like "Lost" in reverse. Creator K.J. Steinberg answers the network mandate coming off the success of ABC's island character drama and Fox's "Prison Break" with her own drama that like it's predecessors uses the medium of TV to flesh out and explore characters in a confined situation.
TV is a copy cat industry, I have accepted that. When trying to replicate a hit often what gets lost in the translation are the very things that made the original show a hit. And it is usually the small things that were overlooked. In a desire to change things just enough, Steinberg gets everything that makes "Lost" work completely backwards. Where "Lost" has a grand-scale adventure A-story that drops us out of it for more character building in the B-story, "The Nine" takes the opposite approach, making the character drama the A-story and the more exciting bank robbery the B-story. As a result it feels bottom-heavy and lacks urgency. And worse, it is an unsolvable problem.
"Nine" calls back to "Prison Break" in that it is a short-sighted series that doesn't seem concerned that its basic premise by its nature is enclosed. In this situation it can either play like a long movie and end earlier than the average syndication-craving series or it stretches itself out over seasons with inevitably leads to cheating on the premise and loosing all credibility. The audience and ABC saw to it that neither of these happened by doing what it does and pulling the plug early.
"The Nine" is painfully anti-climactic, peaking in the first episode with the harrowing immediate aftermath of the bank robbery, and settling into a straight character drama for the remaining episodes. Relationships are formed. Relationships break up. People feel guilty about something they did in the bank. The cop (Daley, who along with McBride deserves much better) is slung in the middle of a department cover-up of the way they handled the hostage situation. The further we get from the bank, the more "The Nine" could have been about anything and that is being very kind, not knowing what happened in the bank is more riveting than what is actually revealed.
There is one highlight. John Billingsley steals the show as a meek accountant who is inspired by his new post-robbery lease on life (and minor celebrity) to leave his wife, quite his job and live, dammit, live! Everyone else, I really could not care less about. Their stories quickly become routine plug-in drama, completely and totally interchangeable with almost any other character drama. The show tries to hard to split the difference, be everything to everyone and it works as neither a character drama nor a thriller. And I don't have to tell you that is a deadly recipe to put the audience to sleep.
* ½ / 4
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