September 22, 2015

SHOWBUZZDAILY Series Premiere Review: “Limitless”


LIMITLESS:  Tuesday 10PM on CBS – If Nothing Else Is On…

LIMITLESS is the second new series in two days to reverse the basic point of the movie it’s based on and turn its premise into an excuse for a sci-fi tinged procedural. The CBS Limitless is as bland as FOX’s Minority Report, but Limitless was a far inferior movie to begin with, so at least there’s not the same feeling of strong material being wasted.

Our hero this time is Brian Finch (Jake McDorman), whose very ordinary brain expands to its full physiological potential, making him able to understand and utilize just about everything around him thanks to a pill called NZT, in effect giving him instant superhuman abilities.  In the movie, this led to as many difficulties as accomplishments, but on TV he’s almost immediately taken under the wing of the FBI, in the person of Agent Rebecca Harris (Jennifer Carpenter, much subdued from her Dexter days), with the idea that he’ll be a new crimesolving star.

Bradley Cooper, star and a producer of the original movie (and doubtless a profit participant), is a producer here as well, and turns up in a cameo as his old character, a role he’ll repeat whenever he feels like it.  He livens things up for a few minutes, but McDorman is as uninteresting here as he was in last year’s ABC sitcom Manhattan Love Story, and the residue of Carpenter that’s left here isn’t much more colorful.  Since every procedural these days has to have an intimation of larger conspiracies, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio appears as Harris’ boss, who may or may not have darker motives.  Mostly, though, it seems like the show will concentrate on its crime of the week.  This being the pilot, the murder has a connection to Brian, and he’s briefly a suspect, but its solution is fairly obvious early on, which doesn’t raise much hope for the stories going forward.

The creator of the TV version is Craig Sweeny, who’s been a senior writer/producer on Elementary for the last several years, so he knows how to keep the CBS train running on time, although he’s not much for inspiration.  Marc Webb, who directed the last reboot of Spider-Man, is behind the camera, yet the show doesn’t have much visual flash.

CBS has put Limitless into the Person of Interest slot (the latter, declining in the ratings and owned by an outside studio, is due to return midseason), and it’s easy to see why the network thinks that audience would stick with this show, as both are in a similar genre.  There’s also not much competition there from NBC’s Best Time Ever and ABC’s unknown quantity Wicked CityInterest, though, has something on its mind about modern technology and our surveillance society.  Limitless, by comparison, so far seems too content about staying within its genre limits.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."