TV tonight: The Blacklist and Hostages; why one works and one doesn’t

The Blacklist starring James Spader is a clear winner
Photo: Facebook/The Blacklist

WASHINGTON, Oct. 28, 2013 —With Jerry Bruckheimer as an executive producer, the success of “Hostages” on CBS would normally be a foregone conclusion. Bruckheimer has demonstrated his knack for knowing what the audience wants on the big screen as well as the small one.

Bruckheimer has produced over 40 feature films and is regarded in the industry as one of the most successful film producers of all time. His list of successful blockbusters includes “Beverly Hills Cop,” “Armageddon,” and “Pirates of the Caribbean,” just to name a few.

SEE RELATED: TV tonight: The Voice, How I Met Your Mother, Blacklist and Hostages

His record of success with TV productions is no less impressive. He is the executive producer of the “CSI” franchise, “Cold Case” and “The Amazing Race.” At one point, three of Bruckheimer’s TV series ranked among the top 10 in the ratings. So why hasn’t “Hostages” enjoyed the level of success associated with his name?

The answer lies in the ridiculous plot and the agonizingly slow pace in which it unfolds. The night before a respected surgeon is scheduled to perform surgery on the President of the United States, her family is taken hostage. The only way to save them is to assassinate the President during surgery.

It sounds like a great plot for a movie or a mini-series, but for a 15-episode TV show, not so much. There is no way to rush the assassination of the President, leaving entirely too much air in the space between the kidnapping and the ultimate conclusion. The audience is expected to invest in the characters in the meantime. For a TV audience with a notoriously short attention span, it is too much to ask. Bruckheimer could learn a lot from his competition on NBC.

On “The Blacklist,” the audience is aware of a larger story arc in the background, but we are given a beginning and an end with each episode. Unlike “Hostages,” NBC doesn’t depend on a long buildup to a season ending conclusion. Each week James Spader and company identify, pursue, and capture the bad guy.

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By making the entire show about a conclusion that can only arrive at the end, “Hostages” has painted itself into a claustrophobic corner. After the first few episodes of “Hostages,” the only question we want answered is how soon it will be moved to Saturday night to die a slow and forgettable death.

Back to the drawing board Jerry.

Tonight’s viewing:

All times are EDT:

8 p.m.

ABC: Dancing With the Stars: (Live) An opening number by Emmy-nominated choreographer Mandy Moore; the couples perform a style of dance they have not previously attempted; the couples face elimination.

CBS: How I Met Your Mother: (New) Marshall asks the gang to help remove an upsetting text message from Lily’s phone before she sees it.

FOX: World Series: Game 5: Red Sox at Cardinals: (Live) From Busch Stadium in St. Louis.

NBC: The Voice: (New) Xtina, Blake, CeeLo and Adam must cut their teams by half by pairing their remaining artists in head-to-head duels.

CW: Hart of Dixie: (New) Lemon is blacklisted from a Halloween masquerade party; a health scare disrupts AnnaBeth and Lavon’s anniversary; Wade keeps getting himself in trouble with ineligible ladies.

8:25 p.m.

ESPN: Monday Night Football: (Live) Seahawks at Rams: (Live) Seattle (6-1) at St. Louis (3-4). The Seahawks put their six-game MNF win streak on the line at the Jones Dome, where they lost 19-13 last year as Greg Zuerlein hit field goals of 60 and 58 yards. Marshawn Lynch ran for 218 yards in the teams’ 1-1 split.

8:30 p.m.

CBS: 2 Broke Girls: (New) Caroline buys a new bedding set for Max and gives the old one to charity, not realizing it has sentimental value.

9 p.m.

CBS: The Big Bang Theory: (Repeat) Raj and Howard try to figure out why Sheldon disappears at 2:45 every afternoon; jealousy arises in Penny and Leonard’s relationship.

CW: Beauty and the Beast: (New) Gabe asks Vincent for help tracking a suspected beast after getting stonewalled by Cat; wounds from Vincent’s past are opened up.

9:30 p.m.

CBS: Mom: (New) Christy wants to take things slow with Adam (Justin Long); Bonnie has a disagreement with her rival, Marjorie.

10 p.m.

ABC: Castle: (New) As Castle and Beckett investigate the ritualistic murder of a young woman, they find strange symbols in the victim’s apartment; Castle struggles with Alexis’ decision to move in with Pi.

CBS: Hostages: (New) When Ellen’s sister visits unexpectedly, Duncan forces Ellen to get rid of her without raising any suspicions.

NBC: The Blacklist: (New) Eager to clear Tom’s name, Liz turns him in to the FBI. Margarita Levieva guest stars.

PBS: Independent Lens: (New) Part 1 of 2. The Latino dropout crisis is examined through the eyes of six students from across the U.S., beginning with three young women. One left school after becoming pregnant, but has since enrolled in a Tulsa program for at-risk students.

Basic cable:

New episodes of:

Love & Hip Hop at 8 p.m. on VH1

WWE Monday Night Raw at 8 p.m. on USA

Long Island Medium: Extended Episode at 8, 8:30, 9, 9:30, 10 and 10:30 p.m. on TLC

Scare Tactics at 8, 8:30, 9, 9:30, 10 and 10:30 p.m. on Syfy

Fast ‘N Loud: Revved Up at 8 and 9 p.m. on DSC

Top Gear at 9 p.m. on BBC

Love It or List It at 9 p.m. on HGTV

The Real Housewives of Miami at 10 p.m. on BRAVO

Ancient Aliens at 10 p.m. on History Channel

Teen Mom 3 at 10 p.m. on MTV

House Hunters at 10 p.m. on HGTV

Dream School at 10 p.m. on SUND

Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives at 10 p.m. on Food Channel

Hotel Impossible at 10 p.m. on Travel Channel

House Hunters International at 10:30 p.m. on HGTV

For movie lovers:

8 p.m.

Blade on ENC

Quiz Show on FLIX

House of 1000 Corpses on IFC

The Outlaw Josey Wales on REELZ

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn-Part 1 on SHO

The Graduate on TCM

9 p.m.

Seduced and Abandoned on HBO

New Year’s Eve on HBO

War of the Worlds on MOMAX

Oz the Great and Powerful on STARZ

Lawless on TMC

Later tonight:

AVP: Alien vs. Predator at 10 p.m. on CINEMAX

Heat at 10 p.m. on HBO

Diary of the Dead at 10 p.m. on IFC

The Cold Light of Day at 10 p.m. on SHO

Havana at 10:30 p.m. on FLIX

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Lisa King

I was born and educated in Southwest Virginia, traveled with my job all over America in my twenties and early thirties then came back to the mountains to raise my daughter.

I’ve been employed as everything from a quality control technician in industrial construction, to a mail processing plant manager, to postmaster of a small town. I’ve been to forty nine of the fifty states, as well as many other countries. Traveling will always be a passion I indulge, and something I’ll call upon often in my writing. 

I come from a long line of story tellers, and will shamelessly exploit a family tree resplendent with colorful and unique characters, both past and present.

In short my perspective will reflect the pride and familiarity I have of my Appalachian heritage. My stories will be a reflection of the values I believe we hold dearest here, all embellished with a healthy dose of Southern Appalachian flare.


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