Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Pilot Review: X Company

X Company (Ovation)
Premiered February 19 at 10pm

Here we have the latest international series to make its United States debut after it has already finished a multi-season run in its home country. In this case, that’s Canada, where this show premiered on CBC almost exactly three years ago and aired its season three series finale just about a year ago. This show is notable for being one of the few weekly television series to feature Nazis as the main villains, and one that isn’t set in an alternate universe where they won World War II but instead during that fateful time. Spotlighting a team of Canadian specialists sent into the field to go undercover and take out Nazi targets has a certain appeal, I suppose, but the risk that a show like this faces is that each mission can’t be too monumental since we all know how history went, and watching targets force young girls to keep their arms raised for hours as punishment for insurgent behavior is hardly a comfortable practice. There were four very recognizable faces in this episode who have all shown up on different TV shows in the past few years, though many of those American appearances were actually after they starred in this show given how long ago its initial run was. Évelyne Brochu, best known as Delphine on “Orphan Black,” is the most notable, though she didn’t get to do much here other than flip between accents and cross her arms defiantly in a seemingly far too obvious signal not to blow the bridge. Dustin Milligan was a highly entertaining part of “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency,” and now he’s relegated to a far less interesting role. Though he appears to be dead, François Arnaud should be familiar for playing Oscar on “Blindspot” and his starring role on the recently-renewed “Midnight, Texas.” And it’s no surprise to see Canadian mainstay Hugh Dillon from the likes of “Flashpoint” and “The Killing” in an important supporting role. Those familiar actors can’t do much to make this show, which often feels like a less flashy and only slightly more convincing version of “The Monuments Men,” truly enticing.

How will it work as a series? This first mission seemed pretty intense, and now there’s a new recruit who is definitely not what anyone would consider field-ready going very deep into the next one. Again, the biggest issue here is stakes since they’ll likely be impossibly high on an episodic basis, making it difficult to become fully engaged since their successes can’t be all that significant.
How long will it last? While Ovation is going to air the show in the United States, this is a Canadian production, one that has already enjoyed a successful three-season run in its home country. As long as American audiences take to it the same way their Canadian neighbors have, then those three seasons can have a similarly productive run here stateside too.

Pilot grade: B-

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