Monday, August 21, 2006

Vanished: One long Without a Trace episode

I realize it's a little late now what with the show having aired and all, but here's the start of my review of Vanished for The House Next Door -- TV

Vanished, debuting tonight at 9 p.m. on Fox, is, if nothing else, a seminar on just how much of a role good casting plays in the success or failure of a modern television show. In the pilot, a sub-par premise and a pedestrian script that just might have worked with the right actors (see Prison Break, returning tonight) fall apart and expose themselves as laughable thanks to a mostly charisma-free cast. Fox, of course, invented the modern "one story told over a season" serial with 24, and as Prison Break felt like that show's less talented younger brother, Vanished feels like Prison Break's less-talented, even younger brother.

The problem starts with the central premise. The show feels a lot like an episode of a procedural (a show like CSI or Without a Trace, where one story is told per episode and the characters rarely, if ever, change) stretched out over a whole season, with the pilot being roughly the first five minutes of that procedural episode (when the crime is committed, etc.). We get to see fingerprints lifted and watch rudimentary policework and the like. It's all very CSI (in fact, creator Josh Berman wrote for CSI).The genius of the structure of a show like 24 or even Prison Break is that each hour has a single, definable goal -- in this episode, Jack Bauer is going to catch this informant and pry this piece of information from him. While that structure can grow tiresome (pick the middle eight episodes from any season of 24), it is something that looks like TV, as opposed to Vanished, which is an action movie trying to look like TV.

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fringe said...

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vikas said...

WAT is the show I look forward to watching most every week (comes in a close 2nd after The Closer). I don't know why so many people think the show has gone downhill. It still holds my interest for that hour. Overall i like that show and which episodes i missed that i want to Download Without a Trace Episodes.