Watch This Show: ‘Hostages’


By Hedge

Starring: Toni Collette, Dylan McDermott

This is a first for Watch This Show, a series currently on air that you’ll need to tune in regularly to watch. I can tell you now though, it’s worth it. Hostages is one of those series that might go under the radar; it’s grim and clever, and tells a long form story many audiences are uncomfortable with (although increasingly less so). There’s no clear, episodic resolution here. Instead we’re given a continuing narrative with some truly intriguing moments.


Hostages is, like Homeland before it, a remake of an Israeli series and brought to American TV with only a few alterations. The basic premise, as detailed in the pilot, has the family of a prominent surgeon (Collette) taken hostage by masked assailants the night before she is scheduled to operate on the President of the United States (James Naughton). Their demand is simple: kill the President during surgery, or we kill your family. It’s a situation she struggles with but her attackers seem determined.

Initially I was unsure how the series would play out. Would this be a slowly unfolding real-time (ish) drama like 24? How would they keep this story going episode to episode? The answer to this comes by the end of the pilot, and I really loved the way forward they present. This is not just a single event narrative but a character study and the cast are superb in their various roles.

Toni Collette is stunning as Dr Ellen Sanders, the hero to Dylan McDermott’s antagonist Duncan Carlisle. She is strong, and resourceful and as a fan of Collette’s from many years prior to this she does not fail to deliver. I buy her in the role, easily, and the ensemble that support her are equally pitch perfect. Tate Donovan as Brian, Ellen’s cheating husband. Billy Brown, Sandrine Holt and Rhys Coiro as the team of hostage-takers that terrorise the family. Quinn Shephard and Mateus Ward as the youngest Sanders family members Morgan and Jake. These two deserve special mention for being both realistic in their portrayal of teens under duress but managing to be much, much less irritating than the children on Homeland (which I offer as comparison only by way of heritage) Dana and Chris.

Morgan is capable like her mother, and often takes the lead where the two children are concerned. Dana (Homeland) is simpering, whiny and has brought the ire of many Homeland fans in recent weeks.

Jake is weaker than his sister, but by no means a simpering mess. Unlike his Homeland counterpart, he even has a story of his own, while Chris Brody seems only there to serve as ‘the other kid’ and rarely makes an impact.

It’s a welcome change in a climate where the prominent child characters on television (see: Homeland, Revolution, Arrow, The Walking Dead except Carl who is badass and I think Chandler Riggs is brilliant) are more annoyances than protagonists.


Hostages is one of the 2013 series I refuse to miss each week. The performances are great, the plot is engaging and there are certainly worse ways to spend an hour of your life each week.

If you aren’t already, watch this show.

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