Tuned In Review: 'Drive' gears up
Share with others:
Lost" in a car!
"Prison Break" as a caravan!
The comparisons for Fox's "Drive" (8 tonight) are as obvious as they are endless. And it doesn't matter a bit. "Drive" takes elements from these other shows -- a large, ethnically diverse ensemble cast; on-the-run serialized story; mysterious conspiracy -- but mixes and deploys them in its own action-packed way.
Starring: Nathan Fillion.
The first hour sent for review is a propulsive ride. Writers Ben Queen ("Century City") and Tim Minear ("Firefly," "Wonderfalls") introduce the characters with the utmost efficiency. Don't like one of them? Don't worry, the action will cut to another character in just a few seconds.
As directed by Greg Yaitanes, "Drive" zips from story to story breezily. It's TV for a generation of attention deficit disordered kids. That's not meant as a slam. The "Drive" concept requires a super-charged pace.
Here's the plot: There's a secret land race across America that's been staged by some shadowy figures since the invention of the automobile.
Who's doing this? Why don't the police stop it? How come we've never heard of it? All logical questions -- just don't bother asking them. The characters want to know the same things, and in the first hour, they get almost no answers from the race liaison, Mr. Bright (Charles Martin Smith).
So why do they drive? Alex (Nathan Fillion, "Firefly") does it in hopes of finding his missing wife. The overseers of the race imply she'll be waiting at the finish line -- if he comes in first.
For others, it's the rumor of a $32 million prize. That's enough to interest newly (and mysteriously) paroled Winston (Kevin Alejandro), who also uses the car time to bond with another family member.
New mother Wendy (Melanie Lynskey, "Two and a Half Men") competes for the safety of her newborn child and to escape her husband.
In addition to past TV shows and movies, this illegal road race show is also infused with some video game DNA. In a world of multiple "Grand Theft Auto" releases, could a show like "Drive" be far behind?
New technology and a scene in Steven Spielberg's "War of the Worlds" -- in which the camera zoomed into, out of and around a car as it sped down the road -- inspired the visual look of "Drive," which seamlessly shifts from exterior vehicle shots to interior scenes filmed on a soundstage. It works, and doesn't look like a cheesy moving backdrop.
The premiere -- 8 to 10 tonight; the show moves to its regular 8 p.m. Monday time slot tomorrow -- is Fox's second stab at "Drive." Most of the leading roles were recast after a pilot last year met with network disapproval.
"We went back and actually rewrote the script," Minear explained at a January Fox press conference in Pasadena, Calif. "Essentially, we're getting into the story a little bit differently. In the original pilot, we started on the road, and we didn't really visit the worlds from which these people came. In this new version, we're seeing the main players leaving the worlds that they come from at a moment of crisis, so we're more emotionally connected to who they are."
Smart move. It makes the characters more identifiable to the audience.
With such a large cast, it's difficult to forge a connection to everyone. Early standouts are the mom played by Lynskey, Fillion's worried husband, Alejandro's ex-con and a father-daughter team played by Dylan Baker and Emma Stone.
Though this cast would seem limited to one season, producers say they have a plan to bring the show (and some cast members) back if it's successful. I'm dubious about the long-term prospects for "Drive." It reminds me of a Pontiac Aztec: different, but destined to be short-lived. Still, for the time being, I'm more than happy to strap in and enjoy the ride.
First Published April 13, 2007 11:41 am