Among all the new TV shows this season the “must see” one is Kidnapped on NBC. This show has it all: an absolutely superb cast of experienced actors, an evolving plot that springs forward in unpredictable ways from the starting action of a kidnapping, and a production style that holds your attention like Krazy Glue.
It is difficult to avoid clichés in reviewing this fast-paced drama. Like the very successful 24 this show is serialized. Meaning the whole season’s shows followed the action of a core set of characters through twists and turns around one story axis. To be successful this requires that each new show must move in surprising ways and involve subsidiary characters that sometimes only last for one or two episodes. Kidnapped delivers the goods.
I was in the first generation of TV watchers. In fact, my family had one of the first TV sets in the neighborhood when I was eleven years old. To say that I have been addicted to TV for many decades is an understatement. I say this to bolster my “credentials” as an objective critic of TV shows. One concept that I have developed is “density.” This means how much action, scene changing and dialogue among multiple characters are happening on second by second basis. Shows with low budgets and weak scripts are almost always low density.
They fill time with empty-headed chase scenes or showing characters moving around, for example. High production value shows, like Kidnapped, with high density pack so much stuff into every minute that you become amazed at every how much has happened in the preceding minutes. And by the end of the episode you are literally breathless from watching so much happen.
In Kidnapped the characters are truly interesting and their back stories keep evolving week after week. Surprises are constant. Better yet, the actors in all the lead roles fit their roles perfectly. You probably will recognize most of them. The three male leads have been perfectly cast. The biggest name is Timothy Hutton, who plays the father of the kidnapped child. Hutton may not be as famous as other movie stars, but he has achieved brilliance in many film roles. He won an Academy Award, two Golden Globes (Supporting Actor and New Star of the Year), Los Angeles Film Critics’ award and Kansas City Film Critics Circle’s award for his performance in Robert Redford’s 1980 film Ordinary People, for example.
A lesser known and much younger actor who has the top action role is Jeremy Sisto. He was gripping in many episodes of the hit HBO show Six Feet Under and in the film Grand Canyon. He is the hero of the show. A former FBI agent he now specializes in helping wealthy people recover kidnapped victims. As a forget-the-rules kind of over-achiever he gets things done. His character is much more than a private investigator and closer to a bounty hunter with lots of smarts as well as guts.
The third male lead is one of the those actors you recognize instantly, because he seems to have been in every other movies you have seen. He probably is categorized as a character actor, but he is so much more. Delroy Lindo is his name. One of his early achievement s was in Spike Lee’s 1992 film Malcolm X. In Kidnapped he plays a senior FBI agent working sometimes with and sometimes in conflict with Sisto’s character in the quest to find the kidnapped boy alive. Though the conflict between the two is evident, so is their mutual respect based on a shared history.
In my view none of the women characters in the show have yet to emerge as very interesting, including the star of the show Dana Delaney, another actor with incredible credentials film and TV. As the mother of the kidnapped boy the character has yet to blossom. But with so many surprises coming quickly in each new episode she will likely have a greater, more complex role in later shows.
I checked TV.com, an Internet site that takes votes on TV shows, and the results for Kidnapped were extremely good. Two thirds of people believe the show is great or superb and another third think it is perfect or good.
Like many others I have also watch what everyone sees as a similar show. Vanished on the FOX network s also about a kidnapped victim being sought by family and the FBI. What I found on a number of Internet sites supported my conclusion. Here are a few representative perspectives that I share:
I’m enjoying this much more than Vanished … it’s very entertaining and the hour flies by, where Vanished seems to move at a snail’s pace.
Vanished’s production looks more juvenile and hokey. Kidnapped is more realistic and gritty. It’s just more interesting to watch.
I definitely think it is better than Vanished. Vanished has all these stereotypical contrivances and Kidnapped seems to be going in a slightly more realistic direction.
Enough said. Kidnapped is about the best you can find on TV this season. Don’t worry if you missed the first few episodes. The way it is crafted you will slide right into the story, and once there you won’t want to miss the next episode.