Ransom ep 1

Ok, guys, you know how this goes. In the maverick, law-enforcement-adjacent lead corner, we have Eric Beaumont, a tall, dark, handsome fellow, blue of eye, generic of accent, in demand to solve tricky hostage crises all over the world using his wits, his team (do-or-die, obviously) and his impeccably-cut suits. His methods are unorthodox and risky (natch) but they usually work and apparently pay accordingly, since his company’s offices are swish and modern and the team’s gadgets – his Sidekicks deal with the electronics so our man can deal with the heroics – expensive and impressive in a very-obviously-not-public-sector kind of way. Would that actual police budgets stretched this far.

In the eyes-of-the-audience corner, meanwhile, we have Maxine Carlson, a bright, bold young woman, red of hair and determined of temperament, who refuses to accept her rejection letter from Oliver Yates (aka Sidekick no.1), insinuates herself into a hostage crisis by dint of literally just following Zara Hallam (Sidekick no.2) into the op room, and lands herself a job by translating a spot of Latin on-site and telling the boss she really wants it. Righto.

The first crisis is in a church in Montreal, involving a guy angry with God, who surrenders when our hero – whose real skill is knowing what people need, y’all – restores his faith/ pulls a stunt that could have got everybody killed/ usual drill. That’s over in a few minutes though, and the team – new girl included – head off to the main event in Denver where parents whose son disappeared 8 years ago have suddenly received a ransom demand and a photo. Dun-dun-dun!

For the benefit of anyone who hasn’t yet filled up their procedural bingo card, then, to add to everything I’ve already mentioned, we have a child in peril, kidnappers with internal strife of their own, and a number of Secret Pains: Carlson has one which isn’t exactly Secret in that everybody knows about it and it’s pulling double duty as a Secret Pain for Beaumont too, and Beaumont himself has two, possibly three, because he has to stand out in some way from the rest of the law-enforcement-adjacent pack somehow, doesn’t he?

Shame then, that neither he nor this procedural-by-committee ever really does. It looks nice; the colours are sharp, everyone is shot beautifully, and the camera loves Luke Roberts’s Eric – a little too much in fact, since the shots of him staring broodingly, eyes piercing, at space/ Maxine/ the camera, don’t so much teeter on the edge of parody as throw themselves headlong into the spoof ravine. But sadly this isn’t a spoof: there’s the odd detail (the show is apparently inspired by the work of a real person, for a start – I bet he has some stories) which might have made it stand out had anyone been so minded, but any edges and any spark have been smoothed out and smothered till the whole thing is as bland and unexciting as a bowl of own-brand cereal.

In fairness, the Sidekicks, played by Brandon Jay McLaren and Nazneen Contractor, do have potential – Contractor’s Zara, in particular, seems much more interesting than the leads – but we can’t have that so, despite Maxine going over his head in infuriating fashion, Oliver practically turns into a puppy and rolls over forthwith, and Zara is immediately relegated to “hold the fort” duties the new girl gets to hang out with the boss and do all the fun stuff. Which would be jarring enough even without the terrible optics that go with immediately promoting the new, unqualified Caucasian into the second banana role above the two experienced people of colour…

Sigh. It’s not that I went in looking for miracles. I deliberately signed up for an easy, cheesy, uncomplicated procedural and I really was in the mood to be entertained,. But even then, I was disappointed and despite, or perhaps because of, the suits and the looks and the heroics, bored. Maybe I’ll watch it again, maybe I won’t, but either way I doubt I’ll care.

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