Premiered October 19 at 10pm
After the success it’s seen with Sky One import “Strike Back,” it makes total sense that Cinemax would be interested in another action-packed British collaboration. The network has certainly found that in its newest series, which is perhaps best described as a dark, brooding mix of “Alias” and “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.” In the lead is Melissa George, who appeared in the ABC Jennifer Garner series as well as in the first season of HBO’s “In Treatment.” George is well-versed in action scenes and therefore serves as a fitting protagonist, mysterious but generally sympathetic, whose role allows her to utilize both her Australian and her American accents. Two experienced British actors, Stephen Dillane and Stephen Campbell Moore, known for “Game of Thrones” and “The History Boys,” respectively, among others, stand out in the supporting cast as Sam’s boss and her mark. I’m pleased to see Adewale Akkinuoye-Agbaje, who broke out in season two of “Lost” as Mr. Eko, back on TV, but disappointed to see his relatively tame role, one in which I didn’t even recognize him. In many ways, this is a stuffy British drama, but the notion of a long-haul mission is intriguing. The opening sequence was captivating, but the excessive use of flashbacks to scenes we’ve already seen is tiresome. This show might prove dense to get into, but it’s likely to improve and pick up its pace with time. I haven’t yet decided whether I’ll check back in to see where it goes in the future.
How will it work as a series? The first season is just eight episodes, which means that this particular mission could last out the entire season with the suspense building slowly, perhaps too slowly, in the process. Creator Frank Spotnitz has a good track record for supernatural shows like “Night Stalker” and “The X-Files,” and we’ll have to see how good a series without monsters or superpowers will be.
How long will it last? Airing on two networks at once gives the show two opportunities for success, and the series is showing two weeks ahead of Cinemax on BBC. The creative team is already prepping for a second season, and I think it’s probably likely that both networks will be interested in allowing this one to grow.
Pilot grade: B