By Tom Gliatto Monica Rizzo Patrick Gomez
March 24, 2014 12:00 PM


NBC, March 16, 1O p.m. ET/PT |


My instinct would have been to add an exclamation point to that title, maybe even more than one—Crisis!!!!—but this new suspense series has enough basic integrity to skip such a cheap gimmick. Crisis may not be great, but it works, and that’s more than you can say for many of the new mid-season shows. The President’s son and his classmates—mostly offspring of the Washington, D.C., elite, with a few children of humdrum ordinary citizens along for the ride—are kidnapped. The conspirators behind the abduction tap the wealthy parents for ransom money but also order them to carry out inexplicable errands that serve some greater, nefarious end. The first two episodes set this all in motion, moving back and forth among the kidnappers (an interesting if peevish group), the students (regrettably, the blandest young Americans on TV in some time), the authorities (Rachael Taylor, who was on the short-lived 666 Park Avenue, is very good as FBI) and parents—the best of this large, panicked ensemble. Dermot Mulroney, who can always find employment as a middle-aged sex symbol with poetically inclined hair, is cast against type as a schlub whose daughter doesn’t even like him. And Gillian Anderson (The X-Files) is a powerful CEO with the resources and cool-headed confidence to take matters into her own hands. Anderson over the years has perfected a glacial stillness that conveys big emotions with minimal evident effort. She could play Lizzie Borden without ever raising an ax. Anderson, like the show, doesn’t need exclamation points.


HBO, March 19, 10 p.m. ET/PT |


In this three-week series, Emily Mortimer plays a version of herself – a British actress temporarily based in L.A. to shoot a movie – who comes to regret her decision to hire her best friend (British actress Dolly Wells, who is Mortimer’s friend) as an assistant. For Em it’s an act of compassion: Feckless Dolly is falling apart after a breakup. She learns the ropes of gofering, but she’s sulky, careless about taking advantage of Em and not quite so feckless that she isn’t on the lookout for career and romantic opportunities. If that outline sounds harsh, this partly improvised comedy is closer to Girls than All About Eve: wistful yet stinging, silly yet wise about the instability of even the deepest friendships.

THE 100

CW, March 19, 9 p.m. ET/PT |


After a nuclear catastrophe, what’s left of humanity floats in an outer-space hub, but this home won’t last much longer. So a mission of 100 juvenile offenders is dispatched – exiled – to Earth to see if the radiation-blasted ecosystem there has become friendly. At best, it’s a frenemy. Wildlife is unpleasantly mutant, expert spear-throwers lurk in the forest, and generally these explorers have the moral courage of Survivor contestants. The 100 is imaginative, surprising and fun – Lost for kids.