DVD Review: Kidnapped: The Complete Series
Despite the show's quality, it never had a chance; saddled with a bad time slot (Wednesdays at 10), NBC showed four episodes, then told the producers to stop at 13, shuttled the show to the Saturday death slot, then canned it after one Saturday airing.
If you had the patience to sit in front of your laptop, you could have watched the entire 13-episode run on NBC's web site. But since I like watching TV as God intended, I hadn't seen the remaining episodes until I popped in the DVD. Did executive producer Jason Smilovic keep the momentum of the first five episodes going? Yeah... sorta.
Packaging: Three discs; the first disc has five episodes and the other two have four each. Disc two also has a featurette (don't watch it before you watch the entire series, as it will blow the ending for you).
Picture and Sound:: Standard for a modern TV series on DVD; 5.1 sound, letterbox picture. No subititles or alternate audio tracks. I had a hard time hearing some dialogue, mostly from Delroy Lindo. The man is a helluva actor, but he needs to speak up sometimes.
Special Features: Besides the featurette -- "Ransom Notes" -- and some ads? Nothing. No commentary from Smilovic or the actors; no "notes" subtitle feature, no deleted scenes, no profiles of the actors. Just your standard 15-minute featurette with interviews with everyone in the cast (except Timothy Hutton and Michael Mosley). It's too bad; I was looking forward to Smilovic discussing NBC's shoddy treatment of the show and how he had to scramble to change the story when his episode order was cut from 22 to 13 episodes.
Review: So, what did I mean by, "Yeah... sorta?" Well, I'd have to say that through all 13 episodes, there were a number of heart-pounding moments, effective but not confusing misdirection with regards to who might have been involved in the kidnapping of Leo Cain, and the emotional moments rang true. The end of the final episode even seemed to give a plausible opening for what could have been a second season. Unlike other serialized shows that premiered at the same time (coughTheNinecough), Kidnapped did a good job of maintaining the pace and momentum set in the first episode, without diverting the viewer into episode-stretching action scenes that had little to do with the central plot of the show or show feel-good final scenes set to jangly pop music (coughJerichocough).
Everyone in the cast does a great job. Timothy Hutton's "up from the streets" billionaire, Conrad Cain, is an especially intriguing character; he's made the "perfect life" for himself, but he's still at heart the same street thug that grew up with the Irish gangs in Queens. Dana Delany is fantastic as Ellie Cain. She doesn't just sit there and cry for 13 episodes; she takes matters into her own hands, helping bodyguard Virgil along with his own investigation.
By the way, after those first five episodes that aired on NBC, Mykelti Williamson actually gets up from his hospital bed and effectively shows the grim determination Virgil has to find Leo, whom he thinks he failed.
And it goes without saying that Lindo and Jeremy Sisto are both in top form on Kidnapped. They play off each other well as Agent Latimer King and kidnap specialist Knapp, respectively. They're two men who are after the same thing; they just use different methods to get there. Both characters could have gotten one-dimensional in a hurry, but both men add depth and shading to each character, showing why each is motivated to do what they are doing. Hopefully, Sisto and Lindo will be paired together in another project.
(One miscasting note: Robert Foxworth was cast as Ellie Cain's influential father. Even though they establish that Foxworth's character is over 70, he looks much younger than that. Indeed, Foxworth is really only 65, and Delany is 51. That's just way too close in age to make their relationship believable, despite Foxworth's usual good performance.)
However, despite all my praise, I was disappointed in how the mystery resolved itself. I won't give away any of the details here, but for a series that prides itself in dense plotting, getting all the characters involved in the mystery, and the aforementioned misdirection, the solution was far too obvious. And the problem is, the resolution doesn't really explain what happened in the episodes previous to it. Even if you couldn't guess who was the mastermind behind Leo's kidnapping, you know the motive for the act way before King and Knapp figure it out, and that kills the intensity of the final scenes. Oh, and the final confrontation comes straight out of the "arch villan handbook."
It makes me wonder if Smilovic didn't have a 13-episode plan and had to scrap a lot of the layers of the mystery at the last second when NBC cut the episodes. For a well-scripted and tightly-plotted series like Kidnapped to have such a simplistic final episode was disappointing. But I'd imagine by then everyone wanted to go the hell home and start on new projects.
It's really too bad that NBC did such a poor job with this show; had Smilovic and company known that the season was only 13 episodes from the start, he could have written a more tightly-plotted mystery with some more even pacing. In general, Kidnapped would have worked very well as a 13-16 episode limited series, with Knapp and maybe King solving a new kidnapping every season. Now, we'll never get a chance to find out where this show could go. Oh, well. At least we have a conclusion, which is more than the fans of Jericho got.