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The Nine 1.01 - "Pilot"

The Nine owes something to the recent Spike Lee movie The Inside Man: during a bank robbery nine people are taken hostage and we see the aftermath of the heist before its events have fully played out. Of course, The Inside Man was noteworthy as much for the ingeniousness of its caper (not to mention the stylishness of the execution by cast and crew), as for its flash-forward/back technique.

A key difference is that The Nine has to be played out over the course of an entire television season (or several, depending on how successful it is and the direction that future seasons will take). I have to believe therefore that the show is immaculately pre-plotted.

I'm not sure what form the series will take but it looks like we'll spend a lot of time in the post-siege life of the characters. After a relatively short time introducing the characters as they enter the bank, the pilot spends a lot of time on the immediate aftermath of the robbery: we see how some relationships have formed during the crisis and others broken, how some characters have died, but others are reborn.

It's a very interesting approach - as if Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings had started with the eight endings. We'll know how the characters end up, so the $64K question is how interesting the journey to that point will be. Will the device be sustainable over 20-something hours or will knowing the characters' fates sap the show of dramatic strength (an issue for any prequel). Fully aware of this danger, the pilot sets up a lot of questions to be answered in the inevitable flashbacks: in The Nine the future is prologue.

Another possible issue is one of tone. If we will be spending as much time on the characters' post-siege life, is there a risk that these scenes will get overly soapy and that this will clash with the thriller genre elements of the robbery? Or will there be an attempt made to equalise the personal drama and action drama? I think there've already been some hints that this will be the case - obviously there's a reason why former strangers (?) are hopping into bed together, reasons that will become obvious during their time as hostages.

Of the nine, three are drawn from staple television professions: cop, lawyer and doctor. I assume this is because there will be action, legal discussion and medical assistance required.

John Billingsley, Enterprise's best actor, makes an immediate impression. At times he is goofy, like the role he played on his West Wing guest appearance (and and also, to an extent, Phlox), but also obvious is the depth of pathos he can bring to bear as required. He has undergone the most dramatic turnaround, and I look forward to seeing the transformation play out.

Random observation: Kim Raver looks hotter than she ever did on 24.

Overall The Nine pilot, while not stepping up to the plate as confidently as Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, shows a lot more polish than, say, the opening instalment of Heroes. (Both The Nine and the Heroes pilots had great hook endings though.)

Promising. Very promising.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on October 18, 2006 4:45 AM.

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