Crusoe: Rum and Gunpowder (series premiere)
by Jason Hughes, posted Oct 18th 2008 8:38AM
(S01E01) I'm reading all over the place that this is a thirteen-part series. That sounds very ... British. In fact, it's a pretty damned promising idea. Imagine if more television shows in the US were allowed to have one season or even half a season and then be done. If they wanted to take a real-time approach it could run twenty-eight seasons! I wonder if this will inspire comparisons to Lost.
I figure a lot of people, in fact most people, won't have read the source material. So their idea of people stranded on an island is going to either be Lost or Gilligan's Island. If we're lucky, they'll stretch so far as Lord of the Flies. Certainly this is an ambitious project, promising us swashbuckling excitement. And yet even though the cold opening featured a potential dramatic rescue and gunfire, when the credits started I realized it hadn't raised my heart rate a bit. In fact, it was possibly the dullest action scene I'd ever seen.
At the time we joined the action, Robinson had been on the island for quite awhile. Time enough to have built an extravagant treetop house complete with zip lines and a series of traps throughout the island that would have made "The Others" envious. I don't even think the Howells could have financed a setup as fancy as Crusoe's.
There's a pretty good pedigree of acting talent in those nothing-like-Lost flashbacks with Sean Bean (The Lord of the Ring's) and Sam Neill, who most recently portrayed a corrupt Cardinal on Showtime's The Tudors. In fact, Sam Neill seems to have found a nice niche for himself in these period pieces. Too bad that same quality of acting didn't come through in the "current" sequences.
From Philip Winchester's overly giddy performance in the title role to the bad acting that ran like wildfire through the pirates, it's hard to say that Friday may be the best actor on the island. And every time they cut from the island to the past with Bean and/or Neill, it only proved that much more where the consummate actors were.
Things picked up dramatically with the arrival of the second crew tracking the pirates who'd captured Crusoe. Suddenly, the action sequences were more compelling and I found myself rooting for Robin and Friday. Hell, even the script was better. Maybe this inspired the actors to up the ante in their own performances as well.
While I enjoyed the flashback sequences, I hope there's a big plan in place to connect them to the castaway saga in a more satisfying way perhaps than the book was able to muster. Otherwise, it will be a bleak finale indeed.
- I never would have guessed that Johnny Depp's portrayal of Captain Jack Sparrow was actually the prototypical pirate. Apparently he nailed it.
- Who's keeping Friday's hair so nicely trimmed, and his face so clean-shaven? And now with his dapper jacket, he's going to be just impossible to live with. You know it'll all go straight to his head.
- If someone was trying to smoke me out of my treehouse, I wouldn't hunker down by the vents the smoke is coming through and breathe deeply.
- Props to the location shots. This island looks way more beautiful than the one from Lost. Actually, it could be the same island if you think about it. After all, this is way before Dharma would have found it.
In fact, next week's episode, which looks to focus more on Crusoe and Friday without so much interference from outsiders, looks much better. I could even see the potential for a longer show with more contained pieces like that looks to be. So, how's that for a review in which the reviewer pretty much changes his own mind throughout the course of it? How about you?
|Oh hell yeah!||134 (38.8%)|
|It's okay||105 (30.4%)|
|I'll watch it if nothing else is on||59 (17.1%)|
|It was terrible.||47 (13.6%)|