Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Pilot Review: Bloodline

Bloodline (Netflix)
Premiered March 20

It seems like Netflix is churning out a new season of some show almost every week now. The latest premiere, which came without too much fanfare, is “Bloodline,” a family drama slash thriller set at a hotel in the Florida Keys. As with “Parenthood,” this family produced a generation of four adult children, all of whom are extremely different. The cast assembled to play these four is pretty diverse and impressive. Kyle Chandler, who won an Emmy for “Friday Night Lights,” is the do-gooder son who became a sheriff. Linda Cardellini, who recently appeared on “Mad Men” and got her start well before that on “Freaks and Geeks,” is the daughter who can’t seem to get her life together. Norbert Leo Butz, a respected Broadway actor, is the lackadaisical brother. And Ben Mendelsohn, who I saw in two Sundance films this year and loved in “Animal Kingdom” and “Starred Up” before that, is the troublesome one who just can’t be relied upon. Sissy Spacek and Sam Shepard, two venerated veteran actors, are the parents, and a handful of other TV faces, like Jamie McShane, Katie Finneran, Steven Pasquale, and Mia Kirshner also appear in the pilot. The problem is that this show, which comes from the creators of “Damages,” feels a whole lot like that series, which slowly added little bits of information each episode to build a storyline that could have played out over just an episode or two. That style could work better for a show that can be binge-watched immediately, but I still don’t see it being too satisfying. It reminds me of a far less compelling version of “The Affair,” and I don’t see what makes this stand apart. I’d be willing to give it another episode or two, but it has to really pick up the pace.

How will it work as a series? The ending of the pilot presented a real shocker, which makes watching this show a little bit more enticing. How we go from voting one brother off the island to three siblings murdering him is sure to be a stretch, and let’s hope that having an entire season preordained doesn’t lead to stretching out the plot too much.
How long will it last? Netflix is on a bit of a high at the moment, with a number of successful shows and one of its other offerings, “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” picked up before it premiered for a second season. This one got decent reviews and seems likely to ride that wave to a renewal, though it’s not the network’s number one show.

Pilot grade: C

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