Limitless: Season 1
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Limitless: Season 1

Imagine was possible to take a pill and instantly release the full potential of your mind. You would have completely perfect memory and cognitive skills. Your ability to call late the minutest facts is unparalleled. Mine would be as fast for and far more resourceful then a supercomputer. While scientists in the real world have been toiling to find such a drug it already existed in the 2011 movie ‘Limitless’. This year extension of this film was released on the CBS broadcast network series of the same name. While it is reasonably rare for a television series to serve as a direct sequel to a movie being that there was sufficient potential at the end of the film to warrant such a project. Within the context of the story and exceptionally powerful nootropic drug, NZT-48, was able to unlock the full potential of the human mind. Taking place from four years after the end of the film was evidence of some considerable thought was given into how to make a proper and realistic transition from big-screen to the small. Many of the potential pitfalls expertly avoided allowing for a stylistic transition. There’s a great amount of potential from the very beginning of the series that during the 16-episode season as the story unfolded the potential were starting to become realized. Unfortunately, the programming executives over at CBS felt that they could not find a place for it on the upcoming schedule. As a result, the series was summarily canceled making it eligible for the lamentable ‘Castro before It’s Time’ list. The series had so much going forward including, arguably most important, a fascinatingly quirky leading man. Perhaps there were some aspects of his free-spirited lifestyle that ultimately made the series untenable for continuation. One thing that comes readily to mind is the frequent and unabashed use of marijuana by the main character. It doesn’t just discreetly rollover joint but rather has a penchant for utilizing elaborate bongs including but not restricted to one connected to a gas mask. While this is certainly going to be an appealing factor for the younger demographic is not consistent with CBS’s traditional conservative values.

Brian Finch (Jake McDorman) was the poster child for the ‘why bother’ generation who fit the criteria for the archetypical burnout. Ostensibly he’s a musician but he has not been able to make a sufficient success of this to pay his bills on a regular schedule. He’s introduced to the miracle drug, NZT; his mind is expanded to an unbelievable level. Throughout the duration of the drug, that last for 12 hours is the smartest person on your capable of making the unbelievable leaps of intuition. What made him of interest to the FBI that it seemed that Brian was immune to the deleterious effects of prolonged use of the drug. Little did they know but U.S. Senator Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper), the protagonist of the film, was providing Brian with an injection that could counteract those side effects and give the appearance that Brian was immune to them. While this made him invaluable to the FBI it also placed them in a precarious position of reporting back to the Senator. Since the FBI thought that Brian was the only one able to successfully endure prolonged use of the drug, Ryan was able to have some outlandish bands reluctantly met such as an office that is outlandishly decorated. Brian is assigned to handler to rein him in as necessary, FBI Special Agent Rebecca Harris (Jennifer Carpenter). Each workday Brian is visited by two special agents that he has nicknamed agent Mike (Michael James Shaw) and agent Ike (Tom Degnan). In place to reinforce Special Agent Harris’ authority is Special Agent Spellman Boyle (Hill Harper). Overseeing this chaotic yet extremely productive unit is FBI Special Agent in Charge Nasreen "Naz" Pouran (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio) a by the book administrator over the course of the season that it is often better to bend a few rules in order to obtain otherwise critical results. Organizationally her quirky unit is referred to the Cross Jurisdictional Command (CJC) team.

The absolutely worse course of action the show runners could have made is to permit the series to degrade into a fully episodic format presenting relatively unrelated, self-contained missions each week. Within the span of only a few episodes it was evident that this pitfall was stylishly avoided. They infused the main story line with a touch of political intrigue and espionage. Although the senator does make a couple of cameo appearances to reinforce the connection with the film, most contact with Brian is covertly achieved through the Senator’s ‘fixer’, Jarrod Sands (Colin Salmon) whose expertise in such secretive matters was derived from his tenue as an operative for MI6.

Enhancing the character driven motif of the series by which the Senator maintains leverage over Brian. He could decline further use of NTZ negating the need for the immunity booster. The Senator was able to pull strings to save the life of Brian’s terminally ill father, Denis (Ron Rifkin). Since Brian Waa always the unmotivated son that suddenly was holding down a government job. It also perplexed his mother, Marie (Blair Brown), but his sister, Rachel (Megan Guinan) knows at least part of her brother was the same; she occasionally visits her brother to partake of his elaborate bong collection and the high quality weed he always has on hand. The individual episodes are a blend of light hearted, almost whimsical crimes with undertones of serious criminal activity. For example one mission involved a brilliant young woman who was at the cutting edge of AI research. She has been able to fully download a person’s mind. Unfortunately the software to properly simulate the person has not been achieved, yet. Brian does manage to make a significant leap, sufficient to solve the case but not to make the stored brains fully useful.

The premise of the series required more time to reach a stable connection with the audience than usual and the executives at CBS decided to focus their resources elsewhere. There is always the possibility that a streaming video service such as Amazon, Netflix or Hulu but lately all of them have been concentrating on their own original series and films. It is a shame since the show was brilliant in it conception but the necessary exposition and establishment of the covert side plots required time to properly deploy. It is an example of the dilemma that frequently plagues series, especially those with a science fiction hook; the parameters of the world and particulars of the situations must be established. If rushed to suit the expectations of the programming department inevitably the quality is severely compromised. However, if the time required for doing things properly is taken than the show will be deemed as sluggishly paced. either way a deserving show is cancelled before its time.

Posted 08/29/2016

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