Logline: A pair of former operatives get reactivated and drawn into a larger conspiracy while attempting to maintain their undercover lives.
Cast: Hannah Ware, Jerod Haynes, Greg Germann, Alan Powell, Tommy Flanagan, Rodney To
Creators: Shaun Cassidy (W / EP), Kelly Sue DeConnick (W /EP), David Janollari (EP), Jason Ensler (D)
Studios: Universal TV, David Janollari Entertainment
In the vein of ABC’s The Catch, Redliners has more hooks than you can count. A former assassin now engaged as a high school principal? Check. A coach who is really an undercover FBI agent? Check. Mr. and Mrs. Smith-style romance between two ruthless killers? Check. A potential love triangle involving two assassins and said undercover FBI agent? Check.
The pilot doesn’t waste any time getting to the point (sensible, considering how many points there are to be made). Assassin-turned-high school principal Anne’s cover is compromised when someone tries to kill her, unsuccessfully of course. Things get strange when the school’s coach Holt is revealed to be an undercover FBI agent looking out for Anne, but concealing an ulterior motive (hello, Quantico). Not strange enough? There’s a high school sex scandal too.
Redliners doesn’t quite make the cut, for two key reasons. After Good Girls, this is NBC’s second hourlong pilot with strong comedic potential. Unfortunately, the tone is largely off-key. Its high school, coming-of-age scenarios (like nude photo leaks) don’t blend well with its action-comedy elements. To muddle things even more, one of the characters being revealed as a pedophile feels fairly Law & Order: SVU. The only moments that got me giggling were Anne’s assistant Christie’s attempts to prove she’s more worthy than Anne’s virtual assistant Nigel.
Second, in trying to do too much, the pilot doesn’t create engaging or sympathetic leads. Anne and Holt’s relationship is completely lacking in chemistry. In addition, Anne’s husband Anton (really?) is introduced only in the closing moments, which feels like an odd narrative choice. While the twist does provide series momentum, this comes at a heavy price: building Anne and Anton’s relationship, which could have been the show’s core, like its comps.
I’d send this back to the drawing board. Redliners wants to be all things at once. What ever happened to ‘less is more?’