Entertainment Magazine

Review #3781: Hunted 1.3: “Hourglass”

Posted on the 05 November 2012 by Entil2001 @criticalmyth

Contributor: Bronzethumb

Written by Simon Allen
Directed by James Strong

The best and worst things to be said about “Hourglass” are identical: this episode is more of the same, with naught but the promise that things will continue like this for the rest of the first series. It’s wonderful news for Sam, who has developed nicely over the course of these first few episodes and proved to be an engaging and capable protagonist, but the rest of the show seems to be stuck in a rut of action being mistaken for motion, focused on a group of characters who, for the most part, we don’t know and don’t care about.

Review #3781: Hunted 1.3: “Hourglass”

“Hourglass” follows Sam, Byzantium and the Turner family in the lead-up to the all-important bidding for the Khyber Dam project. Sam accompanies the Turners to a fancy hotel where the bids are to be lodged, but she’s in for a shock when she learns that the target of a previous operation, who is capable of blowing her cover, is also present to bid for the project. As a game of cat and mouse ensues amongst the bidders while Byzantium observes, the audience learns of Aiden’s relationship with an MI6 officer, the newest team member continues to butt heads with his colleagues, and the search for the mole continues.

Whatever momentum and mystery this Khyber Dam plotline had in the series premiere has well and truly died up by now. It’s a very basic, episodic plotline that should’ve been dealt with by the end of the previous episode, yet “Hunted” is starting to rub our noses in how the Turners will be front-and-centre for several episodes to come, if not the whole season. Which is terrible, because the plot has simply stopped being interesting. It’s not clever or exciting, and seems to be contributing nothing to Sam’s mission, which isn’t nearly as central to things as it deserves to be.

Making things worse is how dry the rest of the cast is. Some of these actors are veterans of brilliant TV shows, and yet they’re giving incredibly uninvolving performances. Perhaps it’s a symptom of having a mole-hunt as part of the show’s DNA: no one wants to be too likeable or sympathetic, in case they’re revealed to be the traitor. Or maybe director James Strong is just weaker at his craft and wasn’t able to get good performances. Whatever the case, this writing team is failing at some of the basic craft of writing fiction, because a strong protagonist doesn’t mean much if the rest of the characters aren’t up to snuff.

Sam Hunter is easily the best part of “Hunted” and would probably thrive on another show. The very chaotic flashbacks give viewers enough insight into Sam’s past for us to understand her present-day personality, while the scripts keep her as a capable operative and a conflicted human being at the same time. They’re not brilliant scripts, but Melissa George is making the most of things and delivering a consistently great performance. Without going broad, she plays all the emotions beneath Sam’s cool facade, and George is just as convincing in the small, intimate moments as she is kneecapping baddies or hitting them in the face with fire extinguishers.

There are some great production values in “Hunted” and you can see some money and skill being thrown at the screen, but it’s just not working where it counts. The story is not engaging. The supporting cast is not engaging. So many of the basic foundations of good television aren’t present, and even the very solid, interesting portrayal of Sam isn’t enough to keep people from getting bored with yet more of the same thing that had severe problems three episodes ago.

Score: 5/10

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