Hostages

Wednesday, Nine, 8.30pm

When a new series is fast-tracked from the United States, it comes with some big expectations. This show is so hot you're going to want to download it the second you've read about it online.

Hostages, though, is being fast-tracked two weeks after the US screening, unlike the mere hours-only delay of Ten's screening of Under The Dome and the latest season of Homeland.

To be honest, you can probably wait that long. From the writer of The Day After Tomorrow, Jeffrey Nachmanoff, Hostages, like Homeland, is based on an Israeli television concept, although one yet to be produced. And if you can't guess from the prescriptive action-thriller music and the breakneck pacing from the opening scene, it's produced by Jerry Bruckheimer.

Despite the ludicrous plot, which unashamedly shows no regard for reality, it features a strong cast and an intriguing idea, albeit one that seems more suited to a shouty, 90-minute action flick.

Toni Collette, last seen breaking out her American accent in United States of Tara, is Dr Ellen Sanders, a renowned Washington surgeon who has been selected to perform routine surgery on the President of the United States (James Naughton), who has a non-malignant growth on his lung.

He has chosen Sanders in a bid to win over female voters, which is why he holds a press conference introducing her to the world, including potential terrorists.

This is the pilot, so we're forced to take on board a string of rapid-fire facts and tropes, as we're introduced to each broadly drawn member of Sanders' family: her wet husband, Brian (Tate Donovan - he and Collette lack any chemistry) and teenage children Morgan (Quinn Shepherd) and Jake (Mateus Ward).

The seemingly wholesome family is taken hostage by a gang of men who threaten to harm them if Ellen doesn't let the President die on the operating table.

We also meet brusque but handsome FBI negotiator Agent Duncan Carlisle (Dylan McDermott), as he defuses a hostage situation at a bank heist by throwing the rule book out the window and going maverick, while showing a flair for the sartorial.

Within minutes, though, his backstory is revealed as a loving husband whose wife is dying, and who calls his daughter Sawyer ''Soy-soy''. This fact aside, McDermott is one of the best characters in Hostages but will that be enough?

There's enough intrigue to tune in for the second episode as the ordinary family caught in a grand conspiracy might not be all it seems and the bad guys may not be all bad, but it's hard to imagine this story arc sustaining 15 episodes.

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