CBS’ ‘Hostages’ Isn’t Taking Viewers Hostage


In the rare case that you don’t recognize actor Dylan McDermott from any of his recent projects, you might recognize him from the 1994 remake of Miracle on 34th Street as a lawyer out to prove the existence of Santa Claus.  While the film oozes with holiday spirit and a cheery story, McDermott has come a long way since then by shedding the good guy image.

He went on to star on legal drama The Practice for 8 years and appeared on American Horror Story from 2011 – 2013, playing two separate characters for two separate story arcs.  He recently took on a comedic role as a brutally honest and aggressive campaign advisor in 2012’s The Campaign, which also starred Will Ferrel and Zach Galifinakis.  Most recently, he appeared opposite Gerard Butler and Morgan Freeman earlier this year in Olympus Has Fallen, where he portrayed a rogue secret service agent who goes on to work for a terrorist group.

So it’s probably no surprise to see McDermott play a rogue FBI agent holding a family hostage in this year’s new political thriller Hostages.  The show has been promoted as a miniseries with no second season planned, but there’s no doubt that CBS would be all over a renewal for another season if it brought success.  Unfortunately, the show’s ratings don’t show a lot of promise.  The season finale is scheduled to air on Monday, January 6.

While not my favorite show currently on television, I’ve stood up for Hostages amongst countless articles reporting its bad ratings.  I’ve been keeping up with the show and while not absolutely horrible, I have to admit that it could definitely be better.

Actress Toni Collette stars opposite McDermott as Ellen Sanders, a high-profile surgeon who has been chosen to operate on the president.  As a number of people want the president dead and McDermott’s character, agent Duncan Carlisle, is in dire need of money to pay for his wife’s cancer treatment, he accepts a job to take Ellen and her family hostage to try to get her to kill the president during surgery.

Ellen attempts to escape several times and learns more and more about Duncan and the plot to kill the president during the show’s run.  It takes place over a two-week frame of time where Duncan and the rest of his team keep watch on the family and threaten to kill them if they seek help.  As predicted, several complications come about, and Ellen’s family and their captors are forced to work together to make sure things go smoothly.


Toni Collette and Dylan McDermott star in CBS’ Hostages.

When you have a show like this that portrays a captive person or people, you want to be rooting for their escape.  The problem with Hostages is that the characters really aren’t that likeable.  We aren’t given a whole lot of time to get to know them before they’re thrust into this situation.  In the brief amount of time that we are given, they come off as a family with a lot of troubles and secrets.

Ellen’s husband, Brian, has been having an affair.  Meanwhile, their son, Jake, has been dealing marijuana and their daughter, Morgan, has just found out that she’s pregnant.  While these produce at least somewhat interesting plot points, they are never really fully developed.  Although the situation at hand forces them to be honest and work with each other, there is little chemistry between the characters.

On top of that, as opposed to a movie that wraps up in about an hour and a half, this drags on.  Even with the time frame of two weeks, it seems to drag on much longer than that.  It becomes boring and tired after a while despite the fact that the first season isn’t even over yet

While the idea isn’t too bad and I give them props for trying, the execution really isn’t all that great.


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