Kidnapped: Pilot (series premiere)
(S01E01) If there's one thing you need to know about Kidnapped, it's this: nothing is as it seems. All we know after the opening episode is over is that Leopold Cain (Will Denton), the erudite son of wealthy Manhattan couple Conrad and Ellie Cain (Timothy Hutton and Dana Delany), has been kidnapped. We don't know why, and we don't know by whom. We also know that Cain has hired private investigator Knapp (Jeremy Sisto), who has a shady past but knows how to get people back to their families. His partner in investigation is Turner (Carmen Ejogo). We also know that Special Agent Lattimer King (Delroy Lindo) has been dragged into the case via his associtation with a bodyguard named Virgil (Mykelti Williamson). He and Knapp know each other, and they both know that they'll have to work together, whether they like it or not.
Everything else? It's completely up in the air. But that's what makes this show interesting.
I've pretty much tapped the well dry when it comes to information on this series. I've visited the set, and I've talked to the cast twice and executive producer Jason Smilovic once. Including the premiere screening, I've seen the pilot three times. I know more about this show than any other new program in the schedule that isn't called Studio 60.
And, you know what? I'm still interested. I'm still interested in finding out how this kidnapping plot plays out over the year, and who's involved in what part of the scheme. I want to know what's in Conrad's past that's making him trust more in Knapp than in the feds. And I want to know why King gets dragged into the case via Virgil; their relationship isn't fully explained by the end of this episode.
The one thing that struck me, even when I saw the rough-cut pilot back in June, was the overall quality of the show. From the actors (Delany, Sisto, Hutton, Lindo) to the way the show was filmed, lit, and edited, all the way down to the choice of music, it seemed like Kidnapped had a very movie-like feel. The right mood is struck between the tension the Cains feel about having their son missing and the rivalry between the feds and a maverick like Knapp. It draws you in and makes you want to see more.
Not that the show doesn't have some issues. Right now, Delany doesn't have much to do besides cry for her missing son. There are some allusions to an influential father and an affair, but we don't hear much about them. Sometimes the music overwhelms the dialogue, and given the show's twists and turns, might mean missing something critical. There are some leaps of faith involved; in the second episode, for example, some unrealistic manipulation of a cell-phone video helps out both Knapp and the feds.
Oh, and it's amazing to me how much of the cryptic talk between Knapp and his people and King and his people take place over cell phones. I can't imagine that a cell is the most secure way to go, know what I mean?
Thankfully, the onion gets peeled relatively quickly, unlike other serialized dramas; by episode two, some questions are answered (while others come up, but still...). We have a slightly better idea of why Cain might have been targeted, even if we don't quite know what he does for a living.
If this show wasn't going against The Nine, which I have to admit was my favorite pilot of the season, I'd be hooked. I'm going to tape the third episode and beyond, but I'm still not sure if I'm going to stick with Kidnapped, despite everything I said above. Even with VCRs and TiVos, keeping track of two serialized dramas in the same timeslot is going to be hard for most viewers, just because of the emotional investment you need to make in these types of shows. The Kidnapped folks are on the right track, though; it may just end up being the unforunate victim of a bad timeslot.