|The Grid (2004)
Starring: Dylan McDermott, Julianna Margulies, Bernard Hill, Jemma Redgrave, Piter Marek, Tom Skerrit, Robert Forster
Director: Mikael Salomon
In the wake of 9/11, members of radical groups have found sanity through the actions of their most famous members. Democrats have eccentric filmmaker Michael Moore and Republicans have their beloved President George W. Bush, but where do all the middle-men go for an impartial view on politics and the war on terrorism? Enter TNT’s six-hour miniseries “The Grid,” a brilliant deconstruction of the brutal current events of today’s news as told through a number of different national governments, religions, sexes and races in an attempt to define “the truth.” Led by an all-star cast primarily made up of American and British actors, “The Grid” delivers sharp writing and powerful characters, but it still doesn’t compare to the stark realism of shows like “24” and “The Shield.”
After the accidental release of a deadly sarin kills 19 innocents in a London hotel, NSA Director of Counter-Terrorism Maren Jackson (Julianna Margulies) is given permission to assemble an inter-agency team that will track down a terrorist organization planning the destruction of areas in both the United States and the UK. On the American side, Jackson recruits Joint-Terrorism-Task Force FBI agent Max Canary (Dylan McDermott), CIA Middle East analyst Raza Michaels (Piter Marek) and CIA Director of Counter-Terrorism Acton Sandman (Tom Skerrit). The British side includes MI-5 Director Derek Jennings (Bernard Hill, “Lord of the Rings”) and MI-6 Director Emily Tuthill (Jemma Redgrave) as they investigate the grid and race against the clock to stop the assumed terrorist actions.
The man in charge of the terrorist cell is ex-Al Qaeda commander Yussef Nasseriah (Alki David), known now only as Mohammed in his attempts to disrupt international oil trades, and in doing so, ruin the American economy. Working closely below the terrorist leader is Chechan-American college student Kaz Moore (Barna Morcz), whose Muslim conversion has led him to an Al Qaeda training camp, and Doctor Raghib Mutar (Silas Carson), who initially joins forces with Mohammed in trade for a supply of medication to stock his Al Hakeem free clinic. The government agents track down a number of probable leads that have them running blind around their respected cities, but after a couple of bad calls that lead to an embarrassing temporary break-up of the special team, Maren’s task force jumps on the problem head-on and progresses towards preventing another major terrorist victory.
”The Grid” is actually a lot more like the film “Traffic,” which was an adaptation of the British miniseries “Traffik” that followed the many personalities involved in the war on drugs. While the story and flashy action sequences are certainly a major part of the finished product, director Mikael Salomon and writer Ken Friedman are much more interested in developing the numberless characters that appear throughout the miniseries. The two stars of “The Grid” are probably the worst facet of the production in fact, with McDermott’s Max Canary as the most inexpressive character of the series and Margulies not far behind in creating a character with both crappy dynamics and dialogue. The more enjoyable performances can be found in newcomer Piter Marek’s Muslim-American agent and BBC veteran Bernard Hill’s gritty detective, but it would be impossible to leave out both Tom Skerrit and Robert Forster from the same category in their small, yet impressive roles.
Because “The Grid” was featured as a special TV miniseries, the 2-disc DVD release triggers a sigh of relief for fans that wish to add the six-hour drama to their overflowing collection of DVDs. Presented in a 1.17:1 widescreen video transfer and boasting the usual 5.1 Dolby Digital audio track, “The Grid” allocates three episodes to each disc along with a few hours of special features. Disc one includes a full-length audio commentary by Salomon and executive producer Tracey Alexander for episode three and scene specific commentaries by McDermott and Margulies on episodes one and two. The first commentary is a welcome discussion on the production of the series while the two stars barely make a peep during their individual scenes. Also included on the first disc are nine deleted scenes that are both short and unnecessary, and the featurette “Decoding the Grid” with cast and crew interviews on the origin of the series.
The special features that accompany the last three episodes on disc two are similar to those that appear on the first disc, including another director/producer commentary (this time for episode four), equally disappointing scene specific commentaries (again by McDermott and Margulies) for hours five and six, four deleted scenes and two production featurettes. “VFX: Secrets of the Grid” is a very cool, but short post-production special effects documentary on the use of SFX in the making-of the series and “Racing Against Time” is a slightly longer featurette that discusses the many budget problems the production team was struck with during the rushed filming of the project.
”The Grid” is hands-down one of the more successful terrorist-based dramas on television and it’s a shame that we couldn’t see a little more than six episodes. However, even though the writers have taken the time to thoroughly research every aspect of each character’s individual religion and profession, it still seems incredibly fictionalized. “The Grid” may not be a DVD worth owning, but if you’re a fan of shows like “Alias,” “24” or even “The Shield,” “The Grid” is definitely a positive television experience that you will at least enjoy the first time around.