Hit or Sh**: CBS’s SALVATION
In this Crossfader series, our intricate and complex rating system will tell you definitively whether new television pilots are worth your valuable time. We call it: HIT OR SH**.
Look, I don’t fucking care.
I go into many of these Hit or Sh**s promising myself I’ll keep it short, sweet, and to the point, and then 10 times out of 10 still end up writing 1,000 words on some of the entertainment sphere’s least memorable entries. But this time I’m really, really going to try to stick to my guns. A bunch of white people and an Asian government official that aren’t interesting discover that an asteroid is going to strike Earth and destroy it in six months. They unsuccessfully attempt to both keep this discovery under wraps while working behind the scenes to neutralize the threat and restrain their sexual desire for each other. Ho-hum.
Cool Joy Division shirt bruh, have you heard of music?
I watched every single second of SALVATION’s pilot, and I can’t tell you less than 24 hours later why you should care about any of it. I know for a fact that I read this script when it was a spec about four years ago at an internship I had, and I guess the concept itself isn’t inherently bad; there is one big, honkin’ set-up for a ticking clock to be found in an armageddon-bearing asteroid, and there is some theoretical tension to be found in the fact that those in the know have to try real, real hard to prevent a global panic from occurring. But there is so much more the script could have done with setting up smaller, more personal conflicts than what we’re presented with here.
As mentioned above, all that can really be gleaned from these people on any sort of personal level is that they’re all sexually frustrated, in addition to the fact that the head of PR for the Department of Defense, Grace Barrows (Jennifer Finnigan), also has one of those damn millennial daughters that she can’t relate to. Apart from that, she spends most of her time in romantically brooding close-ups with her boss, Deputy Secretary of Defense Harris Andrews (Ian Anthony Dale) that don’t seem to promise to go anywhere. Liam Cole (Charlie Rowe), the MIT grad student that actually blows the lid off the whole thing, is even more incredulously conceived. Upon falling head-over-heels for Jillian Hayes (Jacqueline Byers) over the course of what is ostensibly 24 hours after meeting her at a bar, he decides to (a) spill the beans on what he is very explicitly not to spill the beans on, and (b) take her tacit advice to help save the world just because she is an attractive white woman he would like to plow. What’s even more ridiculous about SALVATION is that when Liam brings his findings to the esteemed Darius Tanz (Santiago Cabrera), he’s almost immediately relegated to a bumbling side character now that the adults are in the driver’s seat.
The antithesis of squad goals
I guess it’s somewhat interesting from a narrative perspective to have us get invested in a character that catalyzes the overarching story at hand, only to then be demoted to a member of the supporting cast, but I can’t imagine SALVATION had enough bona fide creative power behind it for this to be entirely intentional. Besides, the rest of it is so blandly functional that it’s almost guaranteed to not get a rise out of you either way. People hustle and bustle back and forth, metaphorically and literally wringing their hands, with a nauseously brisk editing style that is presumably meant to increase our anxiety over the events of hand. But when you start your pilot at 11 and keep it that way, things quickly plateau, not abated by the attempts at domestic drama that CBS attempts to cram in as attempts at pacing breaks. Ian Anthony Dale manages to demonstrate his extensive television pedigree and does the best he can with the impotent material he’s given, but unfortunately, the only real highlight occurs with a semi-goofy Neil deGrasse Tyson cameo, and c’mon, we’re all getting a little tired of him by this point.
Alright, I did it! Short and not so sweet. Ignore this show and let it die.
SALVATION airs on Wednesdays on CBS