This season, ABC gave us “Whiskey Cavalier,” one of those globe-trotting espionage series featuring a poorly matched guy and girl whose mutual attraction was reluctant yet instantaneous.
Not surprisingly, the formulaic-yet-frenetic hour, which was in its heart an updated (and dated) version of “Moonlighting,” was canceled. It’s funny to me that the networks, in their fondness for time capsules, reboots and old schedules, keep trotting out this “opposites attract” dynamic when conceiving of new series.
In the case of “Blood & Treasure,” CBS must be counting on the fact that we won’t mind the recipe so much because the show is premiering the week before the Memorial Day weekend. Besides the “I love you/I hate you” dynamic of the leads (blond Matt Barr, brunette Sofia Pernas), the series, created by Matthew Federman and Stephen Scaia, checks the globetrotting box with locations that include Rome, Genoa, New York and Egypt. With a net cast so wide, terrorism must rear its ugly head early on but in a bit of a switch, the target is stolen antiquities.
Karim Farouk (Odem Fehr) is a terrorist who steals the tomb of Mark Antony from an Egyptian pyramid (even though it must weigh a ton) and kidnaps antiques expert Dr. Ana Castillo (Alicia Coppola)., Former FBI agent Danny McNamara (Barr) is sent by Reece (John Larroquette), a wealthy art collector, to rescue her. Seventeen plot complications steer him into the company of Lexi Vaziri (Pernas), a Middle Eastern jewel thief with a posh British boarding school accent, mean karate skills and enough disaster-averting gadgets on her person to remind you of James Bond or Maxwell Smart, in that order. Naturally, they used to date (it did not end well).
“Blood & Treasure” offers a fast-paced, dizzying adventure full of improbabilities and dashes of humor as Danny and Lexi jump out of planes — a nod to “Goldfinger” — and come thisclose to kissing. They may be on Farouk’s tail but they are similarly hunted by Interpol agent Gwen Karlsson (Katia Winter), whose austerity is mainly telegraphed by her painfully tight blond bun. Along the way, they are shot at, poisoned, take cover in a sarcophagus with some damp mummies and have a humorous interlude with a Catholic monsignor (Mark Gagliardi in a role that might have been played by Nathan Lane 10 years ago), who helps them break international law.
In an era celebrated for “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” “Pose,” “Killing Eve” and other edgy series, “Blood & Treasure” is a harmless, unabashed throwback and completely forgettable. Barr is as bland as any other young actor starring in a TV series while wannabe Bond girl Pernas agreeably checks the networks’ present criteria for “exotic.”
The dialogue refers to the curse of Cleopatra, but the only curse I see is one that dooms series creators and programmers looking back instead of forward.
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