I want to apologize to the makers of Kidnapped (NBC, Wednesdays, 10 p.m.) for not liking their show better. There’s a catchy enough premise: one kidnapping–the teen son of a superwealthy Manhattan family–investigated over the course of a season. There’s an interesting dual-track dynamic: an FBI agent (Delroy Lindo) leads the FBI investigation into the disappearance while the family engages freelancer Knapp (Jeremy Sisto), a pro at extricating kidnap victims, whose first advice is: don’t call the FBI. (The Feds, he notes, want to find the victim and apprehend the suspect; his only priority is to get the kid back "intact," and to hell with the suspects.) The writing is crisp, and the performances are first-rate, especially Sisto’s as the sardonic, hangdog Knapp. The visuals are moodily lovely; the plotting is tight; it’s an all-around high-class production.
And yet, after watching two episodes, I had much the same thought I did after seeing a few minutes in May: the show basically seems like a stretched-out Law & Order episode. There’s no greater question driving the mystery, no intrigue or stakes that make me want to learn the answer more than I would the ending of an hourlong CSI episode, much less spend a season with it. There’s some hint that the kidnapping may have to do with the shady
past of the boy’s father, played by Timothy Hutton, coming back to
haunt him. But–eh. The whodunit of Kidnapped is fine, but it could have used more work on its whydunit. (Compare Fox’s Vanished, which is all intrigue, twists and mythology but lack believable characters.)
Ten, twenty years ago, Kidnapping would have seemed like a revelation. But TV drama has raised its game too much since then: today, Kidnapped basically amounts to season one of 24, minus the terrorism, or The Wire without the politics and poor people.
It’s not you, Kidnapped; it’s me. I just have better things to do with my time. Kidnapped is not a bad show at all. Its problem is that the rest of TV is too good.