|Kidnapped: The Complete Series (2006)
Starring: Timothy Hutton, Jeremy Sisto, Delroy Lindo, Dana Delany, Will Denton, Carmen Ejogo, Mykelti Williamson, Linus Roache, James Urbaniak, Madchen Amick
When I attended the TV-DVD Conference in Los Angeles last October, where the state of the industry of television shows being released on DVD was discussed in a highly in-depth manner, a panelist observed, “It’s a show like ‘Kidnapped’ which is causing major changes in network thinking and programming as well as in the home video market.”
On the surface, this seems like an extremely odd thing to say, given that the NBC drama proved to be a ratings disappointment from the moment it left the gate and was yanked after only five episodes, with the remaining eight episodes only available for viewing at NBC.com. What this fellow meant, however, was that the market for releasing television shows onto DVD in full-series sets has proven to be a highly lucrative one. As such, even though a show might be a complete bomb in the ratings, it’s nonetheless worth it for the network to commit to filming enough episodes to bring the show’s primary plot line to a conclusion. This way, they increase the potential of being able to make back any losses by releasing it on DVD.
It will, therefore, not surprise you to learn that the kidnapping of teenager Leopold Cain (Will Denton), which serves as the focus of “Kidnapped,” is indeed resolved by Episode 13. I wouldn’t dare tell you how things pan out for the lad – that would be cheating – but the knowledge that you get a certain degree of closure is something that’ll increase your interest in checking out this fantastic series.
As “Kidnapped” begins, we’re introduced to the Cain family. There’s father Conrad (Timothy Hutton), mother Ellie (Dana Delaney), and their three children: Alice, Aubrey, and the aforementioned Leopold, or Leo for short. Conrad’s a businessman of considerable note, and Ellie was born into the powerful Rand family, which means that the entire Cain clan are in the public eye to a considerable degree. As a result, the kids have their very own bodyguard, named Virgil (Mykelti Williamson). On the way to school, however, the Cain’s driver is killed, Virgil is critically wounded and Leo is kidnapped. There are no immediate suspects, but given that the Cain family possesses considerable wealth and resources, it quickly becomes obvious that there are plenty of possibilities. Conrad’s instincts lead him to hire a man named Knapp (Jeremy Sisto), a former FBI agent who now does private contract work as a professional rescuer of kidnap victims, assisted by the lovely Turner (Carmen Ejogo). Unbeknownst to the Cains, however, Virgil’s wife has contacted her brother, an FBI agent named Latimer King (Delroy Lindo), who gets the bureau involved. Not surprisingly, the government and the private sector bump heads immediately, but King and Knapp have a history together, and despite their differences, they manage to work together toward their common goal of finding and rescuing Leo.
The plot of “Kidnapped” is occasionally labyrinthine in its complexity, given that the kidnapping was done via many players, almost none of whom ever have any direct contact with each other. Among the villains, there are some notably evil performances by James Urbaniak as the otherwise-nameless figure known as The Accountant; Anthony Rapp as a figure from Knapp’s past (their shared history would’ve been delved into further had the series continued); and, most surprisingly, Madchen Amick plays the hottest female assassin since Charlize Theron in “Aeon Flux.” (I said she was hot. I didn’t say the film was any good.) There are also a few participants in the kidnapping who turn out to be sympathetic characters. You know the type: they did it for the money, they didn’t know it would go this far, nobody said anything to them about killing. You get the idea. Still, most of them get enough development over the course of the episodes to avoid looking like stock clichés rather than actual characters. As to the rest of the cast, there’s far more to praise than complain about. Leo’s the only Cain kid who warrants mention, and Denton doesn’t get much chance to act (most of his time is spent sitting angrily but quietly on a cot). Unfortunately, Hutton doesn’t make much of a dramatic impact as the gruff Conrad Cain, and the subplots surrounding Conrad having originally come from the streets often fall flat as a result. Delaney’s multilayered performance finds her taking the role of Ellie Rand Cain beyond the predictable upset mother and wife that you’d anticipate. Still, it’s Sisto and Lindo who you want to see on the screen as much as possible. Their characters are both witty and sarcastic but can go from zero to hard-ass at a moment’s notice.
It’s a damned shame that “Kidnapped” didn’t take off, especially given the generally rotten reports that’ve been coming in about this season of “24.” It looks great, moves quickly, and the plots are realistic more often than not. Maybe some people thought that they were going to drag the kidnapping out for the full season, but I don’t think that was ever going to be the case, even if it had lasted the entire year. (We’re waiting for confirmation on that from the show’s executive producer, Jason Smilovic. Stay tuned to Premium Hollywood for an answer.) It’s easy for me to offer scheduling suggestions to NBC now that the show has come and gone, but, in all honesty, I am mystified as to why the network didn’t pair “Kidnapped” with “Heroes.” I’ll buy that they were trying to put the two shows with the biggest buzz side by side, but their audiences didn’t mesh. As your Monday morning quarterback, however, I can assure you that if NBC had gone with the back to back block of “Heroes” and “Kidnapped,” we’d still be enjoying the exploits of Knapp, Turner and King into the next television season.Special Features: Not that we should be terribly surprised that a show cancelled after only 13 episodes should get so little in the way of special features, but it always sucks when the only feature you get is the promotional featurette produced to promote the show in the first place. There’s no new insight, only the information that was used to pitch the series to the press. It would’ve been nice to get the show’s creators’ thoughts on how “Kidnapped” would’ve progressed had it continued, and if we would’ve gotten the resolution to Leo’s kidnapping as quickly (relatively speaking) as we did.