Simplicity can be a helpful thing for an effective thriller — and that, sadly, is an attribute CBS's overwrought, underwatched Hostages (Monday, 10/9c) lacks altogether. The more complications this show introduces, the sillier it threatens to become. It's hard to imagine a subplot of less interest than the money problems of foxy hostage-taker Sandrine ...
Whatever the male species did to deserve the recent run of lousy comedies that neuter them into a bland, whiny pudding — the trajectory of Man Up through Guys With Kids to CBS's new and painfully bland smarm-com We Are Men (8:30/7:30c) — can I just collectively say on behalf of the entire gender: We're sorry! Haven't we suffered enough?
Apparently not, because Men hits new lows in bromance abuse, cheapening the whole idea of "band of brothers" with its soggy account of male bonding at an apartment complex for jilted and/or unhappily divorced losers. The new kid on the block, Carter (Chris Smith), is left at the altar in a reverse-Graduate gag that's the cleverest part of the pilot. Such a milquetoast he makes How I Met Your Mother mensch Ted Mosby seem as dangerous as Ted Bundy, Carter is adopted by an unappealing threesome that includes middle-aged horndog Frank (Tony Shalhoub, slumming), sad sack Gil (Kal Penn, who's almost as hilarious here as he was as a wet blanket during HIMYM's dark period, which means not at all) and arrogant Stuart, overplayed by Jerry O'Connell, who parades around shirtless in a rainbow of Speedos that flaunt what some might call manhood. But they would be wrong.
These Men of no certain age and character aren't so much bad influences as terribly unfunny company.
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Question: On your recommendation, I watched the first episode of Mom. Why do sitcoms insist on using these horrible laugh tracks still? I found it so distracting it took away from any viewing pleasure. I'll sample the show again because I really like the actors, but do you hate laugh tracks as much as I do? — Rob
CBS is trying something a little different with its new drama Hostages.
When CBS introduced it in May, executives called the show — a thriller about Ellen Sanders (Toni Collette), a surgeon who, on the night before she's set to operate on the president, is taken hostage with her family by an FBI agent-turned-terrorist named Duncan Carlisle (Dylan McDermott) who wants the POTUS dead — a "limited series."
Fall preview: Check out all the must-see new shows
It's a phrase that was thrown around a lot during the network upfronts, and it seems to have meant different things to different people. Is it a one-and-done miniseries? Is it the next American Horror Story-like anthology series? For the brains behind Hostages, it simply boils down to numbers.
"We definitely look at this as a series, [something] more akin to a cable series where they do fewer episodes than networks traditionally do," executive producer Rick Eid tells TVGuide.com...
Happy (and busy) premiere week. It's a killer thriller showdown when two of the fall season's slickest new shows, NBC's The Blacklist and CBS's limited-run suspense serial Hostages, square off Monday (at 10:01/9:01c) in a contest of marquee power and derivative but inviting high concepts. They take on ABC's durable Castle, opening its sixth season (10:01/9:01c) with its star-crossed leads facing a personal and professional crossroads.