Wednesday, July 12, 2017

CBS’ Thriller, ‘Salvation’ Needs a Reason to Live


Review of the TV series "Salvation."
An exciting scene from Salvation. (L-R) Santiago Cabrera, Jennifer Finnigan,
Charlie Rowe, Ian Anthony Dale. (Sven Frenzel/CBS)

TV SERIES REVIEW

Many years ago, summer TV programming consisted of reruns, pilots of TV series that didn’t make it and seasonal specials like Battle of the Network Stars. More recently, summer viewing is full of TV game shows, reality competitions and far-out concept series. Many of the latter have come for CBS who have put together some enjoyable albeit over-the-top limited series like last summer’s American Gothic, Braindead and others having a slightly longer shelf life like Extant, Under the Dome and Zoo.

Oftentimes, these series can’t be taken too seriously nor should they, but they can be fun on a hot summer night. The best have a way of creating classic cliffhangers at the end of each episode that makes you want to tune in the next week to see what happens next to your new summer friends.
This summer’s offering by CBS includes the “suspense thriller” Salvation does live up to its predecessor TV series as it is missing two key ingredients: suspense and thrills. For a show all about the end of the world, you won’t find anything more dull or predictable. Seriously. I watched the pilot episode and found myself saying the lines before the characters. Salvation is a case of terrible, lazy writing that thinks it’s clever than it really is.


The first episode of Salvation opens with a short story about how the earth can be hit with meteors and we never see them coming. Then, it shifts to Liam Cole (Charlie Rowe) an MIT grad student who discovers that earth is doomed to be hit by an asteroid in the very near future. He contacts his professor who at first blows him off but then come around to the theory only to be found missing the next day. Liam then shares his theory to the ridiculously arrogant and unlikable tech billionaire Darius Tanz (Santiago Caberera) who immediately hires the college kid. (Tanz’s character is so irritating, it would surprise me if his character alone tanked the show, but I thought the same about Bull and it remains a hit show, so, there you go.) Tanz agrees that the earth is in danger but he has a solution. He wants to build an “ark” that will save a little over 100 people to populate Mars.

Of course, with all of this gloom and doom, the government tries to squash all these rumors and say that they are working on a solution and everything will be just fine. If you’ve seen these types of movies and TV shows, the U.S. government can never be trusted and I suspect news will be found out eventually that somehow the government will be to blame for the speeding asteroid in the first place. Harris Edwards (Ian Anthony Dale) is the government man in charge of keeping this news quiet which doesn’t sit well with Grace Barrows (Jennifer Finnigan), a staff member of his and secret girlfriend. She herself is dealing with her own stress of an upcoming empty nest syndrome as her daughter graduates from high school and wants to take a year off to do some exploring. Grace is no more a fan of her daughter going away while the ending of the world is near, but she takes to heart the words of her daughter when she say, “Mom, you can’t protect me from the world.” No truer words were spoken. Grace and Liam feel that there must be a better way and come alongside Darius to work together in his bat cave to figure out a solution before times runs out. (Cue exciting music.)

Salvation doesn't feel real in the slightest while the writing, storyline and acting feels as if it were lifted from a morning soap opera. Worst of all – it’s dull. Sure, they might be able to build up the suspense as they show goes on, but this is no way to grab an audience.

Salvation premieres tonight at 9:00 p.m. on CBS. If you like the show, let me know.

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