Sometimes, a piece of fiction echoes something in another piece of fiction in certain unimportant surface ways that you cannot tell if it’s a tribute to the original, if the creator of the similar work has problems being creative and isn’t smart enough to realize that the echo will be noticed, or if they simply hadn’t been exposed to the original and coincidentally echoed it uncomfortably.
The creators of Kidnapped, an NBC Wednesday night drama slated for fall, are either big Veronica Mars fans or they haven’t seen the show. Y’see, the first season of Veronica Mars was about this very rich family, the Kanes, with two school-aged kids, a boy and a girl, one of whom is first seen floating in the pool and turns out to be a crime victim. Kidnapped is about this very rich family, the Kanes, with two school-aged kids, a boy and a girl, one of whom is first seen floating in the pool and turns out to be a crime victim.
Not that Kidnapped will be mistaken for Veronica Mars. VM is, at its core, about its wit.
The new series is about being intense. Every moment, every feeling, intense. For example, there’s the explanation of the Kanes have a bodyguard for their kids: “A couple years ago there was a hostile takeover. We had death threats.” Wow, that’s one hostile takeover!
There are some good performers involved here. Timothy Hutton isn’t given that much to do, but Dana Delaney looks concerned, Mikelti Williamson (of Boomtown) looks focused, and Delroy Lindo looks smart and attentive… all are playing to their strengths. There are things going on here, and there will be plot complexities as we get to understand who is behind the kidnapping, why, and what must be done to catch them and get the kid back. This is one of those big long storyline shows, and it’s not clear to me whether the entire series is this kidnapping, or just this season (I actually suspect the latter, seeing how the ad images put the kidnapper-hunter folks in the foreground and the parents in the background, suggesting who the real continuing stars are.)
It is made clear early on that the kidnap plot will be done in an over-the-top style, but within that context it seems smoothly made. If it lacks anything to appeal to the 24 fans (who I think ought to check this out; me, I dropped 24 afer the first episode of season 2) it’s the central character to empathize with; you might understand and appreciate the kidnapping specialist and Delroy Lindo’s about-to-retire FBI officer, but you don’t feel like you’re in their shoes.
And of course there’s the other concern – even if it is a one-season-per-crime show, there’s no guarantee that we’ll see the end of the season. Most shows don’t make it that long. But if we avoid all such shows because of that, then there’s no chance that any of them will make it through, and we’ll never get the DVD sets that can be safely enjoyed.
There are a number of such shows coming this season. They can’t all succeed. They could all be failures. But this one, I reckon it at least has a chance.