TV listings | Will hold you hostage at home

Pick of the Week: Hostages (K5, Sun 21:00)

It is not the first time this year that we have seen a president’s fate in the hands of  iron-willed tough guys, but unlike in Congress, Sarah Palin won’t be at hand to negotiate for this one, and unlike the Republicans, the bad guys in Hostages are actually willing to go the distance.


The series begins with a group of masked men, invading the home of surgeon Dr Ellen Sanders (Toni Collette from Muriel’s Wedding and The Sixth Sense) on the night before she is scheduled to perform a serious, if routine operation, on the US president.


After taking the family hostage, the leader of the armed gang – a disgruntled FBI hostage negotiator turned-rogue agent Duncan Carlisle (Dylan McDermott from The Practice),  reveals his intention: to force Sanders to let the president die on the operating table. If she doesn’t comply, her family will be killed.


This premise, no matter how far-fetched, has delivered a solid series for CBS that has garnered a solid 64 rating on Metacritic. If its aim was to find its version of The Blacklist and Homeland, then it is mission accomplished.


What follows is a tense, action-packed dance between the Sanders family and their captors. Hostages takes us on a rollercoaster ride in which the captive family discover they don’t know each other as well as they thought. The terrorists, on the other hand, have done their research and are keen to take advantage of the Sanderson family secrets.  

Hostages is produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, and as you would expect, the tension never eases. Whether it can last the 15 episodes of the first series remains to be seen. Collette has already managed to eclipse her other major TV role in United States of Tara, but unlike that series, where she played the head of a dysfunctional family with dissociative identity disorder, she should be able to hold it together for the distance.


-Chris Jones


Also New:

As a media mogul, kingmaker and dirty digger, no-one can dispute the influence Rupert Murdoch, the subject of the 2013 two-part documentary Murdoch, has had on the West … and mobile phone security. But following the fallout of the UK phone hacking scandal, who has he fallen out with besides Tony Blair?


Also on its knees is Italy, the subject of Girlfriend in a Coma, a doc about how it “has been left dying by the roadside” (La Stampa), which “freezes the blood in your veins” (L’Espresso).


Elsewhere, don’t miss Russell Brand: from addict to drug free (SVT2, Mon 22:45) or the second series of uni comedy Fresh Meat (BBC Ent, Fri 23:10); Don’t Blame Facebook (TV2, Mon 23:35) and Caught in the Web (TV3 Puls, Fri 21:05) profiles people whose lives have been ruined by social media; and warm up for Halloween with True Horror (DR3, Mon-Wed 20:00). (BH)


Sport of the Week:

We wouldn’t normally recommend England’s League Cup, but Arsenal vs Chelsea looks like a tantalising clash. The home side haven’t won a trophy since 2005, while Jose Mourinho, who won the League Cup that very year, is one of the few big club managers to treat the cup seriously. Elsewhere, Liverpool won’t take West Brom lightly in the EPL (K6, Sat 16:00) after their Old Trafford escapade, and Sebastian Vettel will keep the foot pressed to the floor at the Indian GP in pursuit of the Formula One title. (BH)


Film of the Week:

It’s sad to think most youngsters would snub Some Like it Hot because it’s black and white. Armed with an ingenious plot, career-best performances and brilliant music, it’s two hours of cinematic heaven. Other period gems this week include Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing, which has impressively stood the test of time, and subtle 2006 immigration flick The Visitor (SVT1, Thu 22:45), which is emotional and insightful. All are more preferable than newbie One Day, a confused mess that will quickly make your day … turn sour. (BH)


Poor old Anne Boleyn gets it in the neck againComing Soon: Dracula


“Stylish, sexy and smart” (Chicago Sun Times), this reimagining of Bram Stoker’s classic novel features Jonathan Rhys Meyers and his chiseled cheekbones as the famous bloodsucker. Set in Victorian London, Meyers poses as an American entrepreneur seeking to bring modern science to the capital, but with an ulterior motive: to take revenge on those who cursed him with immortality centuries earlier.


“I play the bad guy because I look like one,” says the former star of The Tudors, and the critics concur. “Rhys Meyers plays his part with such blood-slurping, mouth-wiping gusto that even a dentist could love him.” (Entertainment Weekly)


“The show has a knack for Godfather-style plots and counter-plots, as well as for sixties Hammer-horror violence that doles out gore and suffering strategically: a dollop of blood here, a severed head there,” praised New York Magazine. (LDU)