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August 31, 2015

DVD Review: Kidnapped: The Complete Series

by Joel Keller, posted Jun 4th 2007 11:04AM
Kidnapped DVDWhen I was asked to review the DVD of the series Kidnapped, I eagerly jumped at the chance. After all, I've been a fan of the show since before it even aired: I visited the set, I went to the premiere, I reviewed the pilot, I was among the throngs at TVS and elsewhere that reported that the show was cancelled, and now I get to review the "thanks for everything, fans!" DVD. I feel like I witnessed the show's birth and death, and now I'm attending its funeral.

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.

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Brent McKee

"Kidnapped" was mistreated even before it was put on the air by Kevin Reilly (and presumably Jeff Zucker's) unbelievable decision to remake the NBC lineup two weeks after the network's 2006 upfront presentation. I think this show would have thrived on Tuesday nights, where it was intended to be, but Wednesday night killed it. After that, everyhting was downhill.

June 05 2007 at 7:24 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Whatever happened to "Daybreak" coming out on DVD? It suffered a similar fate as "Kidnapped" did. Are we ever going to see the remaining episodes and see how our hero finally breaks out of his endless day?


June 05 2007 at 12:00 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It took me 30 minutes to not like this series. It first was boring to me and then it threw a couple of hard cut fast shot scenes at me that contained to much information to actually get my out of my lethargy. After that I had to choose between re-watching that part or just not watch this show anymore. I chose the latter.

June 04 2007 at 4:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I thought this show was GENIUS, and stayed at work late into the night to watch the online-only episodes (no DSL at home). Even those were handled badly by NBC, though, as you could only watch them in the week they were released--if you went on vacation, you were screwed.

I thought this was one of the finest series I'd ever seen on TV--great acting, writing, directing, cinematography, the works. NBC was simply criminal in letting this die the way it did.

I agree that the solution didn't work as well as it might have, but I also agree that if Smilovic had had the time and support to do what he wanted, it would have lived up to the promise of the previous 12 episodes. Even given that, however, it was still an engrossing ending.

I don't know what it will take to get networks to give shows a real chance anymore. They seem to have such contempt for the viewers. But I should just remember what Noam Chomsky said about Dupont during the CFC hubbub: they're a corporation, and as such their SOLE loyalty is to their shareholders; expecting anything else from them is pointless.

June 04 2007 at 4:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I thought the Fox series Vanished was a better series and that too was mishandled by Fox -- killing off its lead and then banishing it to Fridays and then similarly to Fox Online.

June 04 2007 at 11:55 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Richard Leach

This was one of the few cancellations that really got to me. I REALLY liked this show and it was not treated fairly. I did watch the final episodes online, and I think they had to scramble to close out the series in 13 episodes. I really wish this show had been given a chance.

June 04 2007 at 11:50 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I loved this series and actually watched all the later episodes online. I would definitely have been there for a second season and think the way NBC treated it was a shame. So many badly written and acted series are kept on, and then the network treats a piece of good work so poorly. What are they thinking?

June 04 2007 at 11:38 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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