February 25, 2016

Quantico is a Franken-show compromised of the most appealing bits of other hit series.

A group of attractive recruits sign up to be brutalised and demoralised at a top training facility so as to climb to the top of their chosen profession.

So far, so Grey’s Anatomy.

But this training facility is the CIA’s so there’s more than a hint of Homeland.

As it flashes back and forth between an appalling tragedy and the events leading up to it, it apes How To Get Away With Murder. While in opening with the interrogation of our central character- who then takes on her superiors from within, you can’t help but think of Damages.

The opening episode ends with her going on the run, framed for a crime she didn’t commit, a blatant cover of The Fugitive’s formula. Quantico’s kleptomania keeps it going, but it never comes across as anything but narratively malnourished.

Each show follows a strict structure. Accused of blowing up New York’s Grand Central Station, Alex Parish (a decent, but hardly revelatory, Priyanka Chopra) must track down certain classmates she feels can help her prove her innocence, while evading those convinced she’s guilty of the crime.

Jumping back and forth between her current predicament and her training at the titular facility, truths are revealed and conspiracies hinted at, which build, dissipate and reboot, week on week and help establish people personal motives for helping Alex, or their vendettas against her.

The real bomber was in her class in Quantico, but can she find the culprit before a second bomb goes off? And what is the dark secret that brought her to Quantico in the first place?

What it lacks in originality, it makes up for with good looking and reasonable charming performers, who interact credibly with one another as they are zipped through a style of storytelling that doesn’t labor on the details.

There’s a boyfriend, a love rival, a mentor and a venal supervisor linked to Alex’s own past. The gay, Muslim and Republican boxes are all ticked. While like nearly all American shows these days, a run for one of the highest offices in the land is hinted at in the mid-season cliffhanger.

You’ll watch with interest as the drama unfolds, but you won’t be discussing it around the office Nespresso machine the next day. Creator Joshua Safran has studied his Shonda Rhimes handbook and delivered a televisual fake Fendi. It’s a knock off, but a good one, that might struggle to maintain it’s stitching past its first season but, for now, gets the job done.


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