Monday, March 17, 2014

Save the Something, Save the Something Something

So, last night, I got caught up on the latest season of Lost Girl, and having affirmed that I am not delusional, and that the show keeps getting sillier at an exponential rate, I turned my attentions to NBC's latest offering, Believe


This show was heavily hyped during the Olympics in February, so I figured I would tune in so at least see what it was all about. After all, it's got pretty good cred, having been executive produced by J.J. Abrams and Alfonso Cuarón. I can see why The Peacock wants to get in on the sci-fi fantasy genre, given the success of shows like Orphan Black and True Blood, and the cult following of Joss Whedon. The show overall has potential, but I felt the pilot was formulaic, predictable, and its "touching" moments bordered on trite. 

The basic premise follows the exploits of River Tam, Bo (if this is an obvious reference to Lost Girl's Chosen One heroine, it was not lost on me). Bo has special abilities that she's unable to control, but the pilot was overly vague about what those abilities are. I guess she's some sort of mix of psychic, empathic, telepathic and and Aqua Man.

Take that, whale! That'll teach you to beat up on helpless plankton!

Bo's real parents are maybe dead, or unknown, or something, so she's been shuttled around to different foster families since their demise. Bo and her guardians are, of course, being hounded and pursued by an Evil Shady Corporate Bad Guy, whose company may have created her/owned her, but anyway, they are after her. The pilot opens with Bo in a car with her latest foster parents. An Evil Secret Agent Lady (she is unnamed, so I'll just call her Mila Jovovich from here on out) runs the car off the road, and then breaks the necks of foster mom and dad in a really unlikely fashion (Mila's secret power is she gets two improbable neck breaks per day) and Bo ends up in the hospital. Bo befriends a young doctor who is experiencing a lot of self-doubt after he was unable to save the life of someone's grandpa. D'awww. Bo helps him rediscover confidence in himself by telling him he will save the life of a singer named Senga. He finds out later that Bo was right and the singer's name was Agnes. Which is Senga if it's backwads. F'real. For effin' real. Doctor Guy notices this when he sees Agnes's get well balloons (which spell her name) in the mirror and it says, "SEGNA" but when I see и, all I see anymore is a vowel so it didn't have quite the same effect.   

Help me, Bastian! The Nothing is destroying Fantasia! 

MEANWHILE, the good guys, whom I have affectionately named The Multicultural A-Team, because I have no idea who they're working for and why, have hatched a plan to spring OUR HERO, Tate, from death row. Tate has been wrongfully convicted of murder and he's about to be executed, when the MAT's leader, Winter, enters his prison cell disguised as a minister. He offers Tate a chance to escape from prison if Tate agrees to help Bo. Tate hems and haws for a reason I'm not really sure about. I mean, he says he was wrongfully convicted of murder and this guy walks in and tells him he'll help him escape and Tate's all like, "Gee, IDK" instead of "Hells yeah!" Anyway, at he last minute, Tate agrees to help Winter rescue Bo, and Tate escapes with the help of Winter's associates, Channing and a couple of other dudes who die later so I don't know their names. 

My acting coach told me to channel McConnaughey.

So, Bo's in the hospital and Winter arranges for Tate to get into the hospital by posing as an accident victim who has really badly applied and eyeshadow bruises, and he finds Bo in her hospital room. It doesn't take much convincing to get Bo to leave with him, but that's when Mila Jovovitch shows up, posing as a nurse. 

Tate starts to wheel Bo out in a wheelchair, but her rescuer and kidnapper soon see through each others' ruses and throw down on each other in the hospital hallway. Bo shoots Mila in the butt with a syringe she randomly found, and that drugs Mila and gives Bo and Tate time to run away. Undaunted, Mila runs through the hospital shooting at them, but not before she puts a silencer on her gun. Hello? Even if the bystanders at the nurse's station can't hear you shoot at them, THEY CAN STILL EFFING SEE YOU. Mila, you are the worst assassin. Mila realizes she is shooting at people and has wobbly drugged person vision, so she randomly finds another syringe full of something else that will undrug her, and then shoots herself in the butt with that, but it's too late. Bo and Tate have escaped. On the bus. The bus. That's their escape plan. Route 10 at 3:15. I also think Tate had no bus fare, but hey, a minor detail. He might have a metro card. 


Winter is the former partner of Evil Shady Corporate Bad Guy, and they had some kind of falling out. Car chases in SUVs ensue, and Bo ends up in hiding at this abandoned warehouse/pigeon factory with the MAT. Unfortunately, Mila Jovovitch finds them and she shoots two members of the MAT and makes her way upstairs, where she finds Tate, Winter, Bo, and Channing. They are about to escape, when Bo decides it's a good idea to leave their panic room and go get her stuffed turtle. Which I can kind of understand. I would like to have a stuffed turtle.
I'm NOT Yulia Lipnitskaya! Let me gooooooo!!!

Mila knocks Tate down and is about to shoot at him. This is when Bo remembers that she can summon birds. HOLY SHIT SHE IS GANDALF. 

The pigeons all form this full-on Hitchcockian pigeonado (PIGEONADO!!!!) around Mila and that gives Tate and Bo a chance to escape. The MAT escapes this time, but Evil Shady Corporate Bad Guy will not give up in his quest to capture Bo for his own nefarious purposes.Again, it is unclear about what those actually are.  It's also revealed at the end that Tate is likely Bo's father, which wasn't that difficult to guess. As for Mila, our last glimpse of her is her getting a call from Evil Shady Corporate Bad Guy boss, after she's been outwitted by Tate, Bo and MAT.

You had one job.

All in all, I would give the pilot a C-minus. I guess there's potential here, but Believe hasn't done much to set itself apart from the Female Chosen One genre, and I feel at this point the production is taking itself a little too seriously. I get that they are trying to be inclusive with diverse casting choices, but the main characters are still a white male and a young white female. The non-white characters are ancillary to the white characters, so it's kind of feeling like people of color stunt casting/tokenism. The writing is kind of bleh and relies on some already hackneyed plot points. Again, if NBC wants to attract the Buffy crowd, and entice them to watch Believe instead of Orphan Black, they've got their work cut out for them. It's unclear if Bo is a mutant, alien, superhero, or angel and I feel like she needs to have more agency in the coming episodes, because right now she's as capable of saving humanity as the Wonder Twins.

I want to Believe, but the show has to iron things out more in order to attract its target viewership. 

Believe premiered on March 15, with a special subsequent episode which aired March 16. Its regular time slot is 9 p.m. Sundays on The Peacock.

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