Fall TV Preview: 5 Things to Know About ‘Hostages’

Toni Collette and Dylan McDermott of "Hostages" (Photo: CBS)

From executive producer Jerry Bruckheimer, comes CBS’ suspense drama “Hostages,” the story of a top-notch surgeon, whose family is taken captive by rogue FBI Agent Duncan Carlisle (Dylan McDermott) on the eve of an operation she is to perform on the president of the United States (James Naughton). In order to free her family, Ellen (Toni Collette) is ordered to assassinate the president, but make it look as if he died of natural causes while on the table. If she fails in her mission, her family will be killed. In this high-stakes standoff between Ellen and Carlisle, the lines between right and wrong become more blurred.

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Following in the footsteps of “Homeland” and “In Treatment,” “Hostages” has an Israeli pedigree. But unlike the other two critically acclaimed shows, the American version of “Hostages” began filming prior to the Israeli series, so it goes its own way.

xfinityTV spoke to the executive producers of the thriller to find out five things you need to know about CBS’ new Monday night drama.

1. “Hostages ” is a limited series with only 15 episodes, and it is a continuing drama, not a procedural. So the action begins with Episode 1 and will wrap up in Episode 15, but that doesn’t mean they will be trapped inside their home the entire time.

If “Hostages” gets killer numbers, more episodes for Season 1 will not be added, but there is the potential for a second season. Whether or not that would be the continuation of the same story, or a brand new story with several of the cast members returning, à la “American Horror Story,” remains to be seen.

“We are trying to make Season 1 great and figure out the best way to do a Season 2 should it come to pass,” says executive producer Rick Eid. “Also, we should say that the title ‘Hostages,’ when [executive producer] Jonathan [Littman] and I first were talking about the show, we always would remind people that it’s really a metaphor. It’s not a show about people held hostage physically the entire time. It’s about how these people are held hostage to who they are, to the decisions they’ve made, and to the situation they are in. That may mean, as time goes on, they are out and about, and in the world. But this ordinary American family’s life has, by chance, collided with a much bigger conspiracy, and that changes them all forever.”

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2. The Cast:

~Toni Collette plays Dr. Ellen Sanders, who is scheduled to perform heart surgery on the president of the United States, when she is asked to assassinate him on her operating table and make it look like natural causes.

~Dylan McDermott plays Duncan Carlisle, a rogue FBI agent, who for unknown reasons — at least n the beginning — is head of a plot to assassinate the president.

~Tate Donovan plays Brian Sanders, Ellen’s husband and a man who is not what he first appears to be.

~Quinn Shephard plays Morgan Sanders, Ellen and Brian’s teenage daughter with a secret boyfriend.

~Mateus Ward plays Jake Sanders, Ellen and Brian’s teenage son who has a serious money situation unknown to his parents.

~James Naughton plays President Kincaid, who is forgoing the doctors at Walter Reed Hospital and using Ellen as his surgeon for both health and political reasons.

~Sandrine Holt plays Sandrine, a last minute addition and the only female member of Duncan’s hostage-taking team.

~Rhys Coiro plays Kramer, Duncan’s brother-in-law, whose loyalty will be tested.

~Billy Brown plays quick-tempered and intimidating Archer, an ex-military man with a razor-sharp tongue.

3. “Hostages” is a show about taking people to the limits and testing those limits to see what they are made of.

“These are people in extremis who discover something different about themselves because of the circumstances they are thrust into,” says executive producer Jeffrey Nachmanoff. “This show is a chance to tell a story which, instead of taking it down a dark path, is about characters and a character in particular in Ellen Sanders, who is an ordinary suburban mom and surgeon, who is put in a situation probably none of us could really imagine what we would do in, and is being asked to choose between becoming an assassin versus protecting her family. The difference in our show is she discovers, really, her inner hero and her ability to rise to that challenge.”

4. “Hostages” puts Ellen on a collision course with Duncan Carlisle and the two do a dance to see who will emerge victorious.

Every episode will present the consequences of what happened in the previous one: What is the fallout from what the characters do and what happens as a result.

“Who is to say people don’t die or don’t get shot, or that she doesn’t kill the President or does kill him? We don’t know,” Eid says. “We are working towards something, and each episode builds on the next. So we don’t answer the question [of whether or not she kills the president] in the pilot, but we are not going to shy away from the dilemma we threw out there.”

5. Is Duncan Carlisle a good guy put in an untenable situation, or is he just a bad guy?

“He’s not too good,” Eid says. “At the end of the day, he was trying to kill the president. So no matter what his great motivation for doing it is, that’s not the world’s most kind way of trying to implement it. He’s a flawed guy. He’s doing something extraordinary and criminal for what he believes to be a really good reason.”

“Hostages” premieres Monday, Sept. 23 at 10 p.m. ET/9c on CBS.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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