The drugs do work... even­tu­ally

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Contents -

Re­view­ing the show of the movie.

UK Broad­cast Sky 1, Wed­nes­days US Broad­cast CBS, Tues­days Episodes Re­viewed 1.01- 1.19

The his­tory of tele­vi­sion is lit­tered with shows that started off badly, lost view­ers and then, para­dox­i­cally, went on to be­come damn fine telly – Mar­vel’s Agents Of SHIELD is a re­cent ex­am­ple. Some­times a new se­ries can take any­thing from five episodes to al­most an en­tire sea­son to find its feet, a strug­gle which is to­tally un­der­stand­able when you fac­tor in just how hard it must be to write, act and pro­duce a show when every­body’s still test­ing out their chem­istry and fig­ur­ing out what the hell they’re sup­posed to be do­ing each week.

Lim­it­less is a text­book ex­am­ple of this syn­drome. It spends half its first sea­son lurching about like a head­less zom­bie, fid­dling with its char­ac­ters ( lead Brian Finch is a dick one week, a saint the next), dis­cov­er­ing its tone ( comedic farce or se­ri­ous po­lice pro­ce­dural?) and, sadly, fail­ing to add any­thing new to a genre that’s al­ready fit to burst­ing. That genre – al­beit this time based on a de­cent Bradley Cooper movie from 2011 – is ba­si­cally a spin on Sher­lock Holmes, aka “What would hap­pen if some­one with a spe­cial ta­lent starts solv­ing mys­ter­ies?” Here, we get an or­di­nary guy tak­ing a drug that height­ens his brain­power, lead­ing to him join­ing the FBI as a con­sul­tant. You can see variations on this theme in every­thing from The Men­tal­ist, House MD, Sher­lock, Monk, Medium, The Dead Zone... well, you get our point.

How­ever, things do start to im­prove as Lim­it­less plods on­wards. Once the writ­ers – who are clearly geeks of the high­est or­der – start to loosen up and have fun, so the show spreads its wings. The first clue that Lim­it­less could be­come some­thing gen­uinely

quirky be­gins around episode seven, which homages Fer­ris Bueller’s Day Off from start to fin­ish, even down to the cos­tumes. Dream se­quences and an­i­ma­tions start to be­come en­joy­able rather than ir­ri­tat­ing. There are in- jokes and movie quotes ga­lore: in one episode Brian helps Ge­orge RR Martin with the end­ing of Game Of Thrones; in an­other some­one says: “Let’s nuke it from or­bit, it’s the only way to be sure.” By the time some cru­cial back­ground char­ac­ters fi­nally get fleshed out in episode 11, Lim­it­less has started to hook you. It’s just a shame that it took so damn long – what came be­fore was, while un­doubt­edly en­thu­si­as­tic, as generic as generic can be.

Even when the show has perked up, though, there are still prob­lems. Brian’s drug- pro­pelled leaps of logic aren’t al­ways as clever as they seem to be – for ex­am­ple, he tracks down one of the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted by, er, talk­ing to the guy’s girl­friend. Duh. Lead­ing man Jake McDor­man has a puppy- like charm, but he’s so or­di­nary, even when he’s sup­posed to be on the drug; just your stan­dard white, 30- some­thing Amer­i­can male TV ac­tor.

At least it’s a great touch to see Cooper, also an exec- pro­ducer, reprise his role from the orig­i­nal movie in the show’s arc- plot ( although his scenes with Brian do feel as though Cooper’s cast a younger ver­sion of him­self ), and Lim­it­less’s cin­e­matog­ra­phy is gor­geous, chang­ing colour ac­cord­ing to whether Brian’s taken his pills or not. You might have given up be­fore this show cranked it up a notch, and that’s fair enough – but if you haven’t yet, do stick with it. It might just re­ward you. Jayne Nel­son

“Take af­ter meals with a glass of wa­ter.”

He’s so smart he don’t need no gun…

That jumper: an im­por­tant part of his su­per­hero out­fit.

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