RogerBW's Blog

Limitless season 1 29 January 2017

2015-2016, 22 episodes. Brian Finch is an unemployed slacker, until he's introduced to a brain-boosting drug. Naturally he goes to work for the FBI to catch crooks.

Nobody seems to know quite why this series was made. The film made decent money, but didn't get a sequel. At first this seems like another iteration of the process that gave us the dire Minority Report TV show: she's a cop, he's a quirky not-a-cop with weird powers.

But it manages to do a bit better than that, largely because of the cast. Jake McDornan manages to get away from the lovable-loser mode fairly quickly, and even when he's deprived of the drug he remains interesting and interested in everything – and, the same trick the film had to do, basically a good guy whether boosted or not. Jennifer Carpenter is mostly known for Dexter (which didn't appeal to me); she played a homicide cop there, so being an FBI agent clearly doesn't stretch her much, but she carries it off well. Hill Harper, well, he's not a heavyweight actor, but he can do by-the-book law enforcement well enough, and he seems to be having a bit more fun here than he did on CSI:NY. The real surprise is Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio as the head of the FBI unit everyone's working for; I hadn't seen her in anything since The Abyss and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, and she does an excellent job here with a role that could have been generic boss-of-cops.

The early series-plot, between the case-of-the-week filler, deals with Finch trying to keep his ailing father alive, discovering the drug's side effects, being given a counteragent by Senator Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper returning as an occasional guest), and then having to hide this from the FBI. Especially when they start looking into Senator Morra themselves. Later on, Morra's "minder" assigned to Finch starts to play his own game, and things get even more interesting.

You don't need to have seen the film to work out what's going on, but it all tends to come out a bit bland in between the major arc content. Cop/not-a-cop solving crime-of-the-week has been done, and the best writers in the world can't fix that. I did enjoy it, and I'd even recommend it (with the usual proviso that I watch in accelerated time), but the early episodes have to survive on the strength of the cast and occasional arc material rather than the main plots; the real good stuff only comes along in the second half of the season.

The show was not renewed.

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