The job of a promo editor can’t be an easy one. A show’s initial success lies almost entirely in the hands of the people who create the previews that will run ad nauseum in the weeks leading up to its debut. You have to hook an audience by giving them a glimpse of the action without giving too much away and create something that looks compelling without misrepresenting what the show will actually be.
Heading into the fall ’13 season the best promos, without a doubt, were for Hostages. But in this case the previews were more than a little misleading.
Unfortunately Hostages fell victim to the first trap I mentioned above. They created some great promos that promised lots of mystery, intrigue and action, the problem is they showed way too much of it. Before even a single episode aired we already knew the entire drama the pilot was based around. Hell, it’s in the name of the show. Of course if we didn’t know it was about a doctor and her family being held hostage in order to assassinate the president then we probably wouldn’t have tuned in at all.
And this is the fine line those promo writers have to walk. They erred on the side of showing too much and as a result the entire hour was completely devoid of tension. We knew the family would be taken hostage, we knew that she wouldn’t actually go though with the attempt in the first hour when there are still 14 more to go. There were no stakes and therefore no reason to become invested.
And then there was the over arching “TV-ness” of it all. From the over scoring of every single scene to the predictable to the point of eye rolling “problems” facing this seemingly idyllic family, there was nothing that even hinted at the original story from the previews. It was all clichés and overdone tropes. You may be able to sell a promo with dramatic music and fast cuts, but an actual episode needs a little more substance.
Of course it still has plenty of potential. It has a steller cast (Toni Collete, Tate Donovan, Dylan McDermott, that guy who played the crazy director in Entourage) and an interesting and fresh premise. If it can stop taking itself so seriously and you can avoid any previews in the coming season, it just could be a worthwhile show.
Hostages airs Mondays at 8/9c on CBS.
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