Everyone who has seen an action film or two in the last decade knows Bryan Wills and his "particular set of skills." The protagonist of the surprise hit film franchise Taken struck a chord with its audience as much for its unconventional casting of Liam Neeson in the lead role as for any of his particular skills.
So, what happens when you take away the primary reason that audiences supported three films? The answer is the convoluted mess that is Taken: Season One. The series basically takes a generic "elite team hunting terrorists" plot and shoehorns the name Bryan Wills into it.
The result is a bunch of self-referential wink-wink, nudge-nudge ("Don't ever have kids") dialog that tries to reinforce the strained relationship to the films. At best, they are a distraction, at worst, they derail any progress that Taken the TV Series makes to stand on its own merits.
And that's the problem, the underlying TV series might be interesting on its own, but by forcing the connection to the films, it is ultimately setting itself up for failure. Terrorist/Special Ops TV series have enjoyed incredible success over the years, so NBC gambled on having one from an established name brand would give it an edge. The result was anything but.
Of course, the sweating might result in a better show when it does rear its head in 2018. Apparently, the network is gutting the cast, with only Bryan Mills himself (Clive Standen) and Jennifer Beals returning. Hopefully, they will consider gutting the more overt connections to the film franchise.
The show could thrive on its own merits and instead of trying to find cute ways to make the audience recall the films, they should invest in plot development and characters. At the end of the day, every time the show reminds the viewer of the film, they are also reminded that this isn't Liam Neeson in the lead role. As good as Clive Standen is, he's no Liam Neeson.
At the end of the day, the series does have potential, but it's obvious that the show was struggling to find its way during the early episodes. The show did gain some momentum towards the end, but one hopes that with all of the turnover behind and in front of the camera, they don't lose this progress.
The result is that we are left with an unknown future, albeit one that ends with Bryan Mills' family being kidnapped over a series of films. If the show is able to strike out on its own and give us a unique take on the genre, then it's reasonable to expect that it will enjoy a long life. Unfortunately, I think it will continue its uneven approach and the inevitable connections to the film will only serve to undermine the show.
Taken: Season One is now available on DVD and Blu-ray.