The pilot episode for the much-awaited ABC TV drama Quantico premiered in the United States on Sunday. Part of a slew of new shows constituting this year's fall line-up, the show has attracted considerable attention in India for obvious reasons: it stars Bollywood actress and pop star Priyanka Chopra.
Less than a fortnight ago, ABC released the first eight minutes of the pilot episode online, first on Twitter and then on YouTube, and we noted that Chopra held her own as Indian-American FBI agent Alex Parrish.
Now, reviews from American TV critics of the pilot (titled 'Run') are out. While reactions to the show itself are mixed (there is much comparison with Grey's Anatomy, How To Get Away With Murder, and Homeland), what seems clear is that Chopra has left an indelible impression.
The Hollywood Reporter had this to say:
... you should definitely give Quantico a look if you’re interested in a little mindless eye candy that has enough hooks of a larger mystery to possibly keep you entertained week to week. And by all means, if you’re a fan already of ABC series like How To Get Away With Murder (which Quantico borrows from heavily) and Scandal, you’ll be right at home with Quantico, which, in the future, will likely have plenty of Grey’s Anatomy sexy-time moments as well.
Variety praised Chopra for being an "arresting lead" but wondered whether it was possible to do "a Shonda Rhimes-like show without her brand of pixie dust".
... the bar for such thrillers has been set pretty high by premium series like Homeland, while broadcasters have struggled with their versions (a la NBC’s Allegiance). Based on first impressions, Quantico seems to be stationed in a more mundane realm. The question now is whether the show can get away with it.
People Magazine called it "fun, sexy and twisty" and said:
The pilot, at least, is well worth checking out. The story isn't always plausible — there's one twist that would blow away every brainstorm that ever disrupted Carrie Mathison's peace of mind — but it's complicated, clever and fast enough that you start to wonder if even the most incidental detail may actually have significance in the season.
The Wrap praised Chopra as having "a poise and sexual spark as Alex that suggests a formidable potential FBI agent whose mind and beauty are equally stunning". However, they didn't think much of the pilot itself.
That straining to play serious-drama dress-up also can be felt in plotting and action scenes that can be awfully dopey. Alex’s escape from the FBI after she’s accused of orchestrating the attack only works if the bureau is so stunningly incompetent that it literally can’t catch a woman a block away from where she was arrested. Similar narrative conveniences–such as characters stumbling upon important clues just lying around waiting to be discovered–litter this first episode, which wouldn’t be so egregious if these agents and recruits weren’t supposed to be the best of the best.
The AV Club opined that, while flawed, Quantico stands out from its fall drama contemporaries by toting "its bullshit with a sense of wit and style".
The premiere reveals things about its characters that other shows might hold onto for entire seasons. A lot of it is utter nonsense — violent pasts, unspoken agendas, hidden family members — but it’s utter nonsense that piques curiosity.
Vulture called it "familiar in all the right ways" and said:
Chopra's a huge star overseas for a reason: She's very compelling onscreen, and you immediately get why ABC thinks she can anchor a show.
The New York Times called the pilot "competently OK TV" and complained that it "lacks the idiosyncrasy that grounds a show like Scandal through its wildest flights". However, it had this to say about Chopra:
The strongest human asset in Quantico is Ms. Chopra, a Bollywood superstar and former Miss World who is immediately charismatic and commanding amid the otherwise generic ensemble. If there’s a problem with her casting, it’s that she may come across as too seasoned and assured to be persuasive as a shaky, neophyte recruit.
Grantland said that Chopra plays Alex Parrish "well enough" but tore into the show.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Quantico did quite well in the ratings. But beware anyone who says the show is “well-made.” It is “well-made” in the way frozen hamburgers are “well reheated” at your local fast-food franchise. These are borrowed ingredients. This is processed cheese.
The first episode of Quantico airs in India on October 3. It will be available on the channels Star World and Star World Premiere.