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Logline: In the aftermath of 9/11, the U.S. government institutes a secret think tank featuring the most creative minds in science and entertainment that is tasked with dreaming up man-made disaster scenarios and their possible solutions. Because the hypothetical ideas are deemed extremely dangerous, the list is sealed and the program shut down. But when a catastrophe occurs that’s ripped from the pages of the missing doomsday book, the team is brought back years later to prevent the disasters of their own making.
Cast: Claire Holt, Jack Davenport, Rachelle Lefevre, Dan Byrd, Taye Diggs, Rochelle Aytes
Creators: Mark Bianculli (W / EP), VJ Boyd (W / EP), Carol Mendelsohn (EP), Julie Weitz (EP), Joachim Ronning (D)
Studios: Sony Pictures TV

In what is hands-down this year’s most preposterous concept, a ragtag bunch of heroes band together to prevent hypothetical doomsday scenarios being realized by Crazy Bad Guys. Right off the bat, the concept reminds me of After the Dark, a frustrating film that struggled to maintain the plausibility of its hypothetical apocalyptic scenarios (even though Doomsday is arguably much closer to Red and MacGyver in tone).

This was a struggle. While the ensemble is engaging enough, and their voices well-differentiated, I just couldn’t see why some of the characters were present at all. Kayla is easily a notch above the others as an expert hacker, and a mysterious backstory linking her to the events depicted. Chris is the muscle, but everyone else seems to be an expert at everything. They’re scenery.

In addition, the concept’s execution feels static. A bunch of people brainstorming their way out of problems they’ve created hardly feels dramatic. With the sole exception of a few action sequences, the pilot feels like a long talking heads scene.

Finally, it feels difficult to care about events where the antagonist is so underdeveloped that he basically feels hypothetical, and his plans implausible. At the end of the third act, the team actually decides to travel to New York to prevent a chemical attack on some unsuspecting pharma elite. I like how self-aware Doomsday is, but that doesn’t make it any less ridiculous.

That said, there are things to appreciate here. I loved Warren, a roguish, charming, and successful screenwriter who has the best lines and is a constant scene-stealer. But unlike Castle, Doomsday is so heavily crowded with characters that it gives Warren no one to play off against, leaving him starkly under-utilised, relegated to being comic relief. (I’d rather not address the credibility of his presence in the pilot to begin with.)

By the end, I was also finally able to enjoy the team’s camaraderie, which is far more enjoyable in action. But do I want to see them save the world from ridiculous doomsday scenarios week after week? I’m not so sure.

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1 Comment

  1. I think the “Ten Days in the Valley” page is mixing up two pilots: the logline and Paula Patton are from “Somewhere Between,” a different series. Ten Days in the Valley is about an overworked TV producer and is led by Kyra Sedgwick.

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