Saturday, March 17, 2018

Pilot Review: Deception

Deception (ABC)
Premiered March 11 at 10pm

I feel like, for all the shows that there are about people in fields that have nothing to do with law enforcement who end up working with either the police or the FBI to help solve crimes, there aren’t many about magicians who do it. That’s not to suggest that the TV universe is in need of such shows, but here we have one. This show could have kept us going for a lot longer before it revealed a twist straight out of “The Prestige,” but instead it dropped the brother-bomb early, sending Jonathan to prison for a murder he didn’t commit while the disgraced Cameron tried to keep his act going. The fact that Cameron was the one who came to the FBI to tell them that he had witnessed a disappearing act engineered by a magician rather than having his services sought out tells you plenty about the size of his ego, but he also more than proved his worth, first by fooling the agents into thinking that he was a criminal they were looking for and then managing to drive blindfolded, get shot, and still deliver the bad guy straight to the authorities. Star Jack Cutmore-Scott is a relative newcomer to TV, having played the title character on “Cooper Barrett’s Guide to Surviving Life,” a horrible one-season series from 2016, and he’s certainly charismatic, matched well with professional eye-roller Ilfenesh Hadera, who plays Agent Daniels. The two recognizable members of the main cast are Amaury Nalasco, of “Prison Break” fame, who portrays a rather dorky FBI agent entranced by magic, and Vinnie Jones, who I wish was still starring on the short-lived medieval musical “Galavant.” And then there’s also Stephanie Corneliussen, very memorable on “Mr. Robot,” as the sorceress with the magic eyes, who should keep Black and the FBI busy for quite some time. This show is entertaining if nothing else, but it doesn’t stand out enough to merit weekly viewing.

How will it work as a series? Black seems positively energized by the opportunity to hunt down the woman who ruined his brother’s life, and I guess that Agent Daniels is going to keep him around because she also perpetrated the escape of a federal prisoner? That part isn’t clear, but we’ve seen how this works on “Castle” and “Limitless” and so many other shows. It’s predictable to a degree but also wildly exciting – and just as unbelievable – if done right.
How long will it last? The reviews aren’t great, but I’m not sure anyone thought that this was going to be a critical hit. The premiere numbers are decent for ABC on Sunday nights, not emblematic of surefire success but strong enough to give this show a fighting chance to stick around at least as long as its protagonist needs to catch the woman he’s currently after.

Pilot grade: B-

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