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Hostages is no replacement for Homeland

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: January 17, 2014


Hostages is on Cannel 4 on Sunday

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High-class American drama on a weekend evening involving a capable and feisty woman and a sexy, confident male who may be the good guy or the bad guy.

Throw in espionage, politics and a threat to the President and government and what have you got?

Homeland. Actually not Homeland but Homeland lite – Hostages (C4, Sunday).

Toni Collette is capable and feisty top surgeon, Ellen Sanders, who is going to operate on the President, after a character has delivered a line explaining that this is normally a procedure which would be carried out by the Surgeon General.

When we first meet sexy, confident FBI Agent Duncan Carlisle (Dylan McDermott), he is single-handedly solving a hostage crisis before revealing his softer side – visiting his wife, unconscious in hospital and suffering from cancer, and caring for his pretty, pigtailed little girl.

But it isn’t long before Hostages delivers its first shock.

The very same FBI Agent Carlisle leads a gang of four who break into Ellen’s home and take her, husband Brian (Tate Donovan) and their two teenage children hostage.

Their demand is simple. Ellen must botch the operation on the President, resulting in his death. No-one need know – the kidnappers have found a poison which can’t be traced.

But capable and feisty Ellen has other ideas. She switches drugs so that the President is given a blood thinner, meaning the operation is delayed for two weeks.

I suspect Carlisle isn’t going to be very happy about this.

It’ll be interesting to see how the tension is maintained over the next 14 weeks. It was meant to be a swift resolution, but Ellen’s thrown a spanner – or may be a scalpel – in the works.

The Sanders home looks happy from the outside, but there are lots of secrets.

Brian looks like a respectable businessman and soccer coach, but his business looks like it’s having money troubles and – judging by his texts – he’s playing away from home.

Their son, Jake (Mateus Ward) is in big trouble. He owes $1,200 to drug dealers, and they’re not willing to wait for their money.

Teenage daughter Morgan (Quinn Shephard) has argued with her boyfriend and hasn’t told him that she is pregnant.

So far, Ellen seems like the only one who is an open book.

Rogue FBI Agent Carlisle’s story might not be so straightforward either. His daughter is staying with Carlisle’s father-in-law while her mother is ill... and he’s just been visited by the man who is assistant to the President.

Could Carlisle’s family be being threatened in order for him to carry out the plot?

Performances are good and the whole enterprise is slick and classy.

Toni Collette and Dylan McDermott are a good match for each other.

This rings alarm bells in our house. Please don’t let it turn into an affair.

We’ve a long way to go. This may be a poor man’s Homeland, but I think it might be worth staying the course.

I certainly won’t be staying the course with House of Fools (BBC Two, Tuesday).

It was awful enough just staying with it for 30 minutes... and this is only the first of six episodes.

This “comedy” – not a term I’d use – comes from Shooting Stars team Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer and it shows none of the style they employed there.

It is truly, truly dreadful. I can’t even be bothered to explain why, save that jokes seemed to revolve around bodily parts and inanimate objects.

It did yield one single, solitary funny jokes. Vic says he’s been to the dog pound “because I thought you could get dogs for a pound.”

An absolute waste of their talent and my time.

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