Review: ‘Ransom’ specializes in the art of the deal

Tom Long
The Detroit News

“Ransom” is efficient broadcast television. It doesn’t try to be fancy, it’s not going for deep, it just delivers tense storylines and then moves on.

Those storylines are built around high-wire negotiations of one sort or another. In the opening episode there’s a hostage situation followed by a kidnapping with a twist. Much fretting and sweating ensues.

The only one not fretting or sweating is super-negotiator Eric Beaumont (Luke Roberts), a well-dressed, good-looking type who heads a firm that specializes in resolving dicey situations. The cops call him when a man having a faith crisis takes a church group captive. Rich people call him when they receive a ransom note for their long lost son. He’s like Ghostbusters without the ghosts.

And like Ghostbusters he doesn’t work alone. He has a psychologist (Brandon Jay McLaren) who susses out psyches, he has a former cop (Nazneen Contractor) who’s used to stressed-out people, and in the opening episode he takes on a new hire, Maxine Carlson (Sarah Greene), who’s perky, pretty and kind of sneaky. There’s some sort of backstory hidden relationship between Carlson and Beaumont that’s sure to be slowly revealed in the way TV shows do slow reveals leading to ... something.

The thing that sets Beaumont apart from other negotiators is that he supposedly abhors violence. How refreshing for a modern television show, you might think. Then you watch the first episode and see a sniper shot, a kidnapping, a punch to the gut, then a ferocious beating, followed by a person being shot, followed by nonviolent Beaumont pummeling a bad guy into submission and you realize, yep, this is television.

But it’s not bad television, really. It’s just by-the-CBS-book television. Episodes will mostly be self-contained, although the relationship between Beaumont and Carlson will provide a long-game string. Good guys will beat bad guys, though occasionally a bad guy may get away because, you know, life is like that. It will all be very efficient.

Tom Long is a longtime culture critic




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