The Runway – Your 2017 Pilot Survival Guide: NBC Dramas

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for god and country

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For God & Country

Logline: A look into the complex world of our bravest military heroes who make personal sacrifices while executing the most challenging and dangerous missions behind enemy lines.
Cast: Anne Heche, Mike Vogel, Hadi Tabbal, Natacha Karam, Demetrius Gross, Noah Mills, Sofia Pernas
Creators: Dean Georgaris (W / EP), Peter Traugott (EP), Rachel Kaplan (EP)
Studios: Universal , Keshet Studios

Even the most strong-willed and confident of us bow to trends every once in a while.

When an American surgeon is abducted in Syria, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) deputies the heroic Michael Dalton, Commander of a Special Ops team, to execute a daring rescue. The pilot begins with a capable teaser that sets up the stakes, introduces the victim and her rescuers, and introduces a strong goal and momentum.

What works? Dalton’s team is diverse and well-differentiated: communications expert Juice, who’s introduced playing soccer with kids, is a devout Christian; medical expert McGuire, an MMA-enthusiast who reads Harry Potter, can only see the locals as savages; Amir, a devout Muslim, has managed to retain his sanity after 6 years as a lone wolf penetration agent in ISIS; and Jasmine, a half-Pakistani half-American sniper, is…a woman.

What misses the mark? The fact that nearly everything else in the show feels like it was written into a template: 1. Lose the girl. 2. Gather the team. 3. Identify who took the girl. 4. Find where they’re keeping the girl. 5. Rescue the girl (a bit like they did in Zero Dark Thirty). There are no real twists or surprises here. What we do get is a rather contrived central mystery using a bookending flashback structure (sigh). One of Patricia’s team has died, we’re told. But who? Watch episode two to find out!

Importantly, both Dalton and Patricia (his Deputy Director at the DIA) are strangely featureless. Patricia,, in particular, feels like yet another in an increasingly crowded lineup of Powerful Women in Intelligence. There’s very little to set her apart from Miranda Otto’s heroines in 24: Legacy and Homeland, for instance. The actors have their work cut out for them.

Overall, For God & Country feels like a mashup of characters and plots we’ve seen before. Do NBC and America need yet another Taken? While subtlety isn’t any network’s forte, I’m certain there are less generic ways to be patriotic.

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