Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Geeky TV commentary - Limitless 1.1

Limitless airs Tuesday nights at 10pm on CBS.

What a fun ride that was! This week's second movie-to-tv continuation is snappy and artistic enough to look different from just about anything else there, and was so much fun to watch.

Brian is going nowhere until a friend gives him a little pill that makes him the smartest man on the planet. He, being a slacker, uses it to slack off in super-time--but also uses it to get two weeks of temp work done in two hours, to solve several court cases, and to give the credit to the girl who hired him so she can move up to a job she deserves. All of which proves he's a good guy.

Which is good because when he comes down and goes to find his friend to get more, he finds his friend dead and the pills gone. He manages to figure things out even without the pill, which is nice, because it means it's not all the drugs--he's got that potential all the time, it's just harder to get at. Anyway, of the three people he knows of who use NZT, his friend is dead, the second name on the list is dead, and the third tries to kill him when he's down and weak and sick. He gets shot, and he calls the FBI lady to help him out with how to fix it himself, but while he's on the phone with her, the pain and the bloodloss make him black out.

That was a great scene, though. He was hurt and scared and vulnerable, and she was believing in him and helping him out. New shows setting up for good crime-solving partnerships have to have that moment where they call on each other before they care enough to volunteer, and this was that moment, and it was done well. She's competent and compassionate, and smart enough to not jump to conclusions about him and to go with her gut when it tells her something is off. He's a neat combo of half perfect, when he's on the drug, and half a total mess when he's off it, and I hope that no-side-effects shot he got doesn't make that haplessness go away in the rest of the series.

When he's out, that's when Bradley Cooper steps in to explain to him some things about living with NZT and to offer him that shot so that he won't get chewed up by the drug's side effects, which of course he takes. There's a hitch somewhere along the line; Bradley Cooper is maybe going to run for president, and he might need someone in Brian's position. But that hasn't happened yet.

Before he passed out, he told the FBI who was the killer, and once he's hopped up again, he robs a bank and tells them to call lady-agent specifically, and together they find the piece of evidence they need to arrest the guy. That's also the proof she needs to convince her boss that he's an asset, not a problem. Bosslady wants to study him and find out why he's not getting sick from the NZT; agent lady wants to use his skills to solve the whole problem. After she gets his dad the liver he needs to survive his hemochromatosis*, he agrees, and she tells him that her dad had the same sheen in his eye, so she thinks he was on the drug before he died. It's personal for both of them to solve these cases and study the drug.

She only asks that he never lies to her.

I hope he doesn't. Not even a little--I hope he's just cheerfully honest like he was through the whole pilot, and tells her everything even when she doesn't want to hear it, so that when he has to cover for the senator, it'll be that much more dramatic. Or choose not to, and lose his supplier and his shot and his life, because he'd have to choose his partner and her cause to make that call, wouldn't he?

There was some great stuff in this pilot, and it set up for a really fun and, dare I say about a show based around drug use, addictive. We had:

  • Color-scheme shifts--when he's down, everything is washed out and grey and blue, but when he's on the drug, everything is golden and warm looking.
  • When he's figuring things out, there's a nice sort of ongoing visualization that is really cool.
  • He's got a wry, cheeky sort of voice over that shows don't do much these days.
  • His mom is Nina Sharp from Fringe; will they use the actress for the shiftiness we know she's capable of?
  • He's like a ninja when he's on, and can barely stand sometimes when he's off.
  • Both main leads are complicated and have pasts that inform their choices now, and instinctively believe in each other in that way that good partners should, and both showed several sides of their personalities like real people do.
Combined with the fact that they have no real idea what's going on with this drug, where it comes from, who's making it, how many people are using it, or what they might do to keep using it, all that means this is a really interesting set up for a really neat show. This bouncing, clever pilot could lead to a bouncing, clever show--or it could lead quite naturally into a really interesting and more serious show full of conspiracies and secrets and lies.

This reviewer is hoping for that one.

How did you guys like the first episode of Limitless? Come talk to me in the comments, or jump over to Twitter!
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