Saturday, June 28, 2014

Pilot Review: Tyrant

Tyrant (FX)
Premiered June 24 at 10pm

I wasn’t too excited about this show, and that’s mainly because the poster I had seen didn’t give me too much hope. In truth, they actually indicated a great deal about its subject matter, and appropriate representation of a small, relatively unassuming man in a literal desert on his own. This is a very high concept drama, and I’m curious to see how its successive episodes will compare to what it was an extremely insightful and expository pilot. I couldn’t figure out where I recognized star Adam Rayner from - it turns out he was on “Hunted” and “Hawthorne,” two shows I forgot all about after their pilots – but I do think he’s an interesting and appropriately understated choice to play this noble son who seems to have tried so desperately to put his past behind him and start a new life. In contrast, you have Ashraf Barhom playing his brother Jamal as an exaggerated, completely despicable oaf whose most dangerous quality is either his power or his temper. Jennifer Finnigan, who I really liked in “Better With You” and less so in her other television endeavors, is a strong supporting player as Barry’s wife, and it’s great to see a very out of place Justin Kirk as a high-society neighbor. I’m sure he’ll contribute great things in this unexpected role. This pilot’s course is somewhat predictable from the start but still rather startling and evocative as it plays out. Barry’s son Sammy is also sure to get himself in trouble thanks to his unsubtle flirtation with another man, while Emma is more in danger of boring herself to death than anything else (though I imagine that may change). The end of the episode made me want to continue watching this show a lot more than I had expected it would, and I’m intrigued to see if this show can maintain its tone and dramatic weight going forward.

How will it work as a series? I’m hopeful that this show is able to stay relevant and enthralling by depicting what it’s like to be outsiders (Barry’s family) and an insider who thought he had gotten out (Barry’s family) in an altogether different. Its brutality seems inescapable, but it should be tempered by some topical and involving human drama.
How long will it last? The ratings weren’t anything to write home about for FX, a network that’s done extremely well for itself in recent years. That said, the show did fine, and I think that this is a good fit for the FX brand and is likely a series that the network will endorse and renew soon.

Pilot grade:B

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