Monday, July 5, 2010

TV Review: "Persons Unknown"

NBC, desperate to appease fans of both their late, almost-great "Heroes" and the truly great "Lost," introduced this summer series a few weeks back, but I just discovered it in a 4 episode OnDemand marathon (and I've DVR'd tonight's episode).

The series opens with the abduction of young, single mother Janet (Daisy Betts). Janet wakes up in a old (or at least made-to-look-old) hotel with six other strangers, none of whom have any memory of how they got there, nor any clue as to why.

The other captives include the mysterious Joe ("Third Watch"* alum, Jason Wiles) and a host of character actors you've seen a million times before, including Ferris Beuller's Day Off and "Spin City" legend, Alan Ruck. The other four captives are a young Army Sargent; a used-car salesman; a woman who claims to be a psychiatrist and the naughty daughter of the U.S. Ambassador to Italy, who is certain her father has had her sent to the seemingly inescapable town in the middle of nowhere. There are cameras everywhere, watching their every move. And a team of Chinese chefs who serve their meals in the restaurant across the street. And the Night Manager, who seems to know only what his employers (whoever they may be) tell him.

Meanwhile, an intrepid tabloid reporter is doggedly searching for Janet, stepping on toes and getting too close to something he shouldn't know about. Part "Lost," part "The Prisoner" and part I don't know what, "Persons Unknown" is both familiar and intriguingly off-setting, answering questions with more questions and setting up future anxieties without being too heavy-handed. And the anonymous voyeurism just gives the show that extra touch of creepiness that makes the viewer feel just a little dirty for watching.

I hope NBC gives "Persons Unknown" a chance to play out to a satisfying (if not logical) conclusion. I'm actually enjoying this odd cat-and-mouse game and I want to know what's really going on. Only 13 episodes have been shot, and I honestly hope that's all there is. Show creator Christopher McQuarrie wrote Bryan Singer's noirish masterpiece The Usual Suspects, so Uncle P has high-hopes for a satisfying (albeit offbeat) conclusion by August. *** (Three out of Four Stars)

"Persons Unknown" airs at 8 PM ET on Monday nights. Check your local listings, as they say...

More, anon.

*A show my mother, never good with names of anything or anyone, refers to as "Fire Story" and will only know to what show one is referring, if one uses that name. I don't think I was blogging when "Third Watch" (a compelling, if underrated, emergency response drama) was in first run, but I certainly remember admiring (okay... lusting after) Wiles' co-stars, the gorgeous Coby Bell and unfaithful jerk, but amazingly hot Eddie Cibrian.

1 comment:

Leslie Clement said...

I've seen two episodes and I find it intriguing so far.