CBS and Fox are ringing in the year with more ho-hum than ho-ho-ho, introducing a pair of series, “Ransom” and “The Mick,” that feel like tired retreads of programs past.
“Ransom” appears to exist largely because it’s being produced with an assortment of international partners and will play simultaneously in Canada, allowing CBS to take the unusual step (for the major broadcasters, anyway) of scheduling an original drama on Saturday nights after a Sunday preview.
Luke Roberts, who played the title role in the 2013 movie “Dracula: The Dark Prince”, stars as Eric Beaumont, a crisis negotiator loosely modeled after real-life expert Laurent Combalbert. As has become expected in shows like these, Beaumont heads a crack team, including a new arrival (Sarah Greene) who talks her way in and is eager to prove she belongs; a beautiful ex-cop (Nazneen Contractor), as if there’s any other kind; and a gifted profiler (Brandon Jay McLaren).
Developed by Frank Spotnitz, a former “The X-Files” writer-producer who most recently worked on Amazon’s “The Man in the High Castle”, “Ransom” has a somewhat international flavor thanks to its shared production auspices, but other than that it’s pretty uninspired even by CBS procedural standards. The first episode also features a kidnapped child – perhaps the most manipulative device one can employ in these settings.
“I’m not the police,” Beaumont – first seen negotiating with a bomb-strapped gunman – repeats more than once, signaling that he and his associates aren’t bound by the usual rules and conventions.
This notion should come as a surprise to those watching “Ransom,” which could hardly be more conventional.
Meanwhile, “The Mick” – which premieres after an NFL doubleheader, before moving to Tuesdays – serves primarily as a vehicle for Kaitlin Olson, who has spent years demonstrating her comedic chops on “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.”
Here, she graduates to lead status as the boozy Mickey, who goes to visit her sister in Greenwich, Connecticut, only to have sis and her billionaire husband suddenly flee the country to escape the authorities, leaving Mickey in charge of their three kids.
Faster than you can say “Aunt Buck,” Mickey is engaging in “Risky Business”-type moments as she exploits the benefits of the mansion in which she now resides.
Created by brothers and “Always Sunny” alums John and David Chernin, “The Mick” features some amusing dialogue, such as when the maid (Carla Jimenez) speaks Spanish to the youngest kid, prompting Mickey’s sister to say it’s like the two “have their own little secret language.” There’s also plenty of physical comedy and pratfalls as Mickey stumbles her way around the house.
Mostly, though, every part of the show is predictable, starting with the basic premise of an utterly self-absorbed person suddenly being forced into the role of caretaker/surrogate parent. And while Mickey is no one’s idea of a role model, in an age of TV antiheroes, she’s not really awful enough to stand apart from the crowd.
Olson is clearly a talent, but “The Mick” shoehorns her into what amounts to a pretty Mickey Mouse sitcom.
“Ransom” and “The Mick” premiere Jan. 1 at 8:30 p.m. ET/8 p.m. PT and 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT, respectively, on CBS and Fox.