Believe, TV review: This new fantasy sci-fi's plot is beyond belief, but sassy Bo is a girl wonder
Ellen E Jones
Ellen is The Independent's TV critic. She writes a daily review of Last Night's TV and a weekly 'Inside TV' column for the i paper, as well as a column on general topics for the main paper most Wednesdays. Ellen is a former Hollywood correspondent and a contributing editor to Little White Lies, she's written on TV, film, lifestyle, travel and politics for publications including the Guardian, The Times, The Sunday Times, Esquire and Total Film.
Thursday 27 March 2014
It's too early to tell whether Believe, the new fantasy sci-fi that started on Watch last night, is thrillingly mysterious or just lazily underwritten, but as a scarred-from-Lost fan of fantasy sci-fis with a coherent internal mythology and a properly developed backstory, I certainly have some unanswered questions.
Where did the adorably precocious 10-year-old Bo (Johnny Sequoyah) get her super-powers? And what exactly are these powers, anyway? What is the purpose of the shadowy organisation that wants to kidnap her? And what about the other shadowy organisation that's protecting her? Most pressingly, with so many qualified child-minders around, why choose a recently escaped convict to take care of a little girl? This Tate chap (Jake McLaughlin) is also remarkably tanned for someone who just spent seven years in a maximum-security prison. Maybe it was one of those maximum-security prisons with spray-tanning and daily yoga?
Logic gaps notwithstanding, Believe's pilot episode did successfully set up a case-of-the-week structure that's worked before: odd couple travel from town to town bickering while helping out the locals. Who didn't like Quantum Leap? Still, at this stage, it's hard to believe that Alfonso Cuarón, the Oscar-winning director of Gravity, and JJ Abrams really had that much to do with this show's development, though both names are attached.
Two "names" whose involvement is certain are Delroy Lindo as Bo's mentor Milton Winter, and Kyle MacLachlan as Winter's former partner, now nemesis, Roman Skouras. This pairing of two actors with such natural presence should make for thrilling viewing – provided their busy schedules ever allow them to actually share a screen. In the meantime, erstwhile Lewisham boy Lindo can easily silence audience quibbles with one of his trademark STFU stares. Clearly, If we want to enjoy this new series, it's best to heed the title's none-too-subtle injunction and just believe. Until the end of episode two, at least.
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