First Impressions: Limitless


Premise: An unsuccessful man’s life is turned upside down when he takes a drug that turns him into a genius.

In TV terms: The guy from Greek is the son of Arvin Sloane and Nina Sharp and gets to meet Will Tippin while working with Debra Morgan. [Bonus points if you got all those references].

Verdict: Lots of exposition, not enough character development, but at least it is not another CSI.

The TV show has the exact premise as the movie: An underachiever comes across a mysterious pill which turns up his brain capacity to the max. So he starts using his super intelligence for good, like diagnosing his father and fighting crime. I am assuming this will be a “case of the week” situation.

The premise is interesting, but the pilot episode was basically an hour of exposition. The first half-hour explained the premise of the show and then the lead character explained everything that was going on inside his enhanced brain. As a consequence, I didn’t feel connected to any of the characters. Take Jennifer Carpenter, who plays Agent Rebecca Harris. I have this very clear idea in my head of who Jennifer Carpenter is as a cop. She is tough, yet human. She is fair and she wants to do the right thing. That entire conception is coming from Dexter. If this was the first time I was watching her play a cop… I would have thought she was boring.

As for the rest of the cast… OK… I might have geeked out a bit, but only because it had several actors from my favourite shows and even an Alias reunion of sorts. Having said that, I don’t know if I can believe Ron Rifkin and Blair Brown are just two nice parents. I still think of them as evil masterminds. Wouldn’t that be a neat twist?

In any case… this show was a bit underwhelming. Come to think about it… I wasn’t particularly thrilled about the movie either. However, it is not a terrible show and might [or might not] get more interesting. [I liked Intelligence much more than this BTW].

Should you watch it? Maybe… If you like procedurals… if you love the movie… if you ran out of things to watch… if you insist on watching CBS…
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The TV Empress is a Media Management graduate, screenwriter in the making (and financial engineer in the meantime). She has serious plans to take over global television. You can follow the TVEmpress on twitter @TVRepublik

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  1. Movie was much better...

  2. Well. We seem to agree on the overall 'meh' factor, but somehow, mixed in with the boredom there were several things that really annoyed me.

    1) the NEVER-ENDING voiceovers (leading to what you said about the exposition). OMG I know they were needed for some explanations, but I might as well have been listening to an audio book rather than watching a tv show.

    2) not only did we have to endure the voices in Brian's head, we had to actually SEE him talking to himself, as the show (apparently) attempted to mix things up by having his inner self appear out of nowhere to tell his other self where to find the clues. I really don't think audiences needed to be spoon-fed like that; after all we already knew what he was going to have to do since he'd TOLD US IN THE VOICEOVER!

    3) The lead actor. I do not know this actor, or his work. He may well be quite good. But I was so tired of his voice by halfway through that everything he said (in his head and out) sounded monotone to me, I was starting to tune him out.

    4) Bradley Cooper. I should mention that I have never seen the Limitless film, nor have I any particular feelings one way or the other about Bradley Cooper. But just his one scene in this ep served to point out immediately what was bothering me about the Brian character. Cooper's delivery was so natural, so effortless, that THAT was when I realised how boring & monotonous Brian had become to me. But as I said, I'm not sure if it really was the actor or just the effect of hearing him nonstop until that point. Either way (& publicity from Cooper's appearance aside) I'm not sure it was the best idea to include him. It simply highlighted the disparity.
    Now that being said, one could argue that it was intentional: the Cooper character all free and easy in his happy world with his drug that counteracted the side effects, vs Brian's totally messed up, confused world. And if that was the intent, I do get it...but it took me until I thought about it after the fact to see it. Not good.
    (On the other hand, I do feel quite the nagging urge to seek out Bradley Cooper films now...)

    4) Jennifer Carpenter: agree COMPLETELY with what you said. I was watching Deb, not whatever-her-name-is-in-this-show. That I have no idea what Carpenter's character name is, is a problem...she needs her own new identity, not a rehash of what we already know she is more than capable of.

    So. That all sounds like I hated it, although I didn't. More just annoyed by it, and disappointed I was so bored. I actually had to watch in two parts to get through it, my mind started wandering so much.
    But I'm hopeful that maybe the exposition & voiceovers will be toned down now the story has been set for us. I hope the writers will allow the audience to figure some things out for ourselves, instead of telling us everything....this alone will help develop the characters AND our interest.
    I'll have my fingers crossed while watching next week.

    1. I agree with all said... The V.O (the content rather than the device itself) might be the biggest issue.
      The actor hasn't done anything major, he was on GREEK which was an abcFamily show that is a total guilty pleasure of mine for some reason. Anyway, he played the president of a frat house, so a jock who turned out to be not so bad.... so... not the greatest acting challenge haha. I thought he was well suited for that role and I guess I can see him growing into this eventually (if he stops explaining stuff)

      The movie was basically the same thing but Bradley Cooper was Brian and Robert de Niro was Bradley Cooper if that makes sense. I watched it at the cinema many years ago, but I remember feeling kinda the same way... "Interesting concept but ... meh" and the acting was obviously not the problem in the movie.

      I am not sure if I will stick with it unless they start airing it on UK national TV... which they might... Also CBS shows are so repetitive after a few weeks...

  3. Exactly. Even if they sort out the voice-over repetition mess, I'm concerned that the probable 'case of the week' format will bring it's own different type of repetitive issues.
    However, I'll give it another week, maybe 2 tops.

    1. I may be willing to give it a couple more too... but only if I remember... we'll see

  4. Exactly. Even if they sort out the voice-over repetition mess, I'm concerned that the probable 'case of the week' format will bring it's own different type of repetitive issues.
    However, I'll give it another week, maybe 2 tops.


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