April 18, 2015

SHOWBUZZDAILY Series Premiere Review: “The Messengers”


THE MESSENGERS:  Friday 9PM on CW – Change the Channel

CW wasn’t in any rush to get THE MESSENGERS on its air, holding it until the last month of the broadcast season, and then putting the show in the lowest-visibility slot on its schedule, the Friday 9PM hour.  The series, created by Eoghan O’Donnell (he was previously a writer on Teen Wolf), is crammed with familiar fantasy plotting that mashes up everything from outer space to superpowers to religious imagery and the prospect of the apocalypse, and it’s so comprehensive that it’s anonymous, like one of those low-budget co-productions that Syfy licenses for the US.

The pilot, written by O’Donnell and directed by Stephen Williams, was certainly busy.  Something that may be a meteor crashed at the exact spot where the world’s first atomic bomb was tested, which prompted 5 seemingly random people–scientist Vera (Shantel VanSanten), single mom Erin (Sofia Black-D’Elia), DEA agent Raul (J.D. Pardo), troubled teen Peter (Joel Courtney), and television preacher Joshua (Jon Fletcher)–to be hit by a (very low-rent) wave of energy and die, only to be resurrected seconds later with super (although very familiar to TV watchers) powers, like telepathy and the ability to heal.  Also, when glimpsed in mirrors or on monitors, they have angel wings, although apparently they’re visible only to us watching at home, since no one on the show has remarked on them.  Meanwhile, a mysterious accented Man (Diogo Morgado) arrived with the meteor, and while he appears to have ties to Vera, he may also be an alien, the devil himself or both.

None of this made much sense–it felt like O’Donnell had gone on YouTube and clicked on clips from every pop culture hit of the last decade (everything but vampires and dragons) and figured that if he loaded up enough of them, he’d have a pitch that could sell in the network room–but the bigger problem was its overwhelming blandness.  The writing and acting were earnest and labored, unable to escape the chains of cliche that bound them, and characters behaved in silly ways just to establish their exposition as quickly as possible.  (My favorite may have been when Erin’s clearly evil cop ex-husband tells her loudly, while standing at the nurse’s desk at a hospital–Erin and her daughter were hit by the energy wave while Erin was driving–that he’s going to falsify the accident records to say that she was driving drunk, which is definitely the smart way to begin a frame-up.)

The Messengers has enough going on that it may be diverting for some, but as superpower fantasies go, it doesn’t compare with CW’s thriving DC Comics franchise of The Flash, Arrow and iZombie, or with the network’s supernatural romances.  As its placing on the schedule suggests, it’s expendable in every way.


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."