Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Pilot Review: Deep State

Deep State (Epix)
Premiered June 17 at 9pm

Often, an actor is the reason to watch a show, and when a player who’s usually relegated to supporting roles gets the spotlight, it’s a cause for celebration. Mark Strong is a very hardworking British actor who I first encountered in memorable roles in two separate 2008 films, “Body of Lies” and “RocknRolla,” and he’s subsequently been great in “The Guard,” “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy,” “Zero Dark Thirty,” “Sherlock Holmes,” “The Imitation Game,” “The Catcher Was a Spy,” and “Stockholm,” among others. He last appeared on American television in “Low Winter Sun,” the one-season AMC remake of the British show of the same name, in which he also starred. In Epix’s import from Fox UK, which has been extensively plastered all over subway platform walls for months in New York City, Strong plays a British agent who reluctantly returns to work after his family is threatened and learns that his son has been killed. If I were to choose anyone for cool-as-ice operative work, it would probably be Strong, and while he is good, this show doesn’t allow him to be nearly Bond-like enough. Instead, it’s a relatively standard action series, one that immediately moves to ripping out fingernails and other unpleasant torture methods in pursuit of intelligence that probably won’t matter in the long run anyway. Though I wanted to root for and watch Strong in this role, I didn’t find anything here that stood out from the many similar shows that have been produced in the past few years.

How will it work as a series? Max is back in, whether he wants to be or not, and there’s going to be no stopping him as he tries to both get justice for his son and help stop future threats both against him personally and his country. This kind of thing has been done before, and this show shouldn’t be much different.
How long will it last? While Epix has three scripted original series on its slate, this one is an import, admittedly one that would pair very well with “Berlin Station.” After a strong start, this show was renewed for a second season back in April by FOX UK, and there’s no reason to think that Epix wouldn’t stick with it for year two, especially considering it has received mostly positive reviews from American critics.

Pilot grade: C+

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