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TV Reviews

MPAA Rating
Drama, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Crime
Johnny Sequoyah as Bo; Jake McLaughlin as Tate; Kerry Condon as Zoe; Katie McClellan as Leeds; Jamie Chung as Channing; Kyle MacLachlan as Skouras; Delroy Lindo as Winter; Juri Henley-Cohn as Hayden; Matthew Rauch as Agent Martin; Trieste Kelly Dunn as Elizabeth Farrell
Paul Asay


Bo is a special little girl.

Not "special" in the way that all parents feel their kids are special. Bo, after all, never really knew her parents. Not "special," as in a child who might need extra attention in school or care at home. Bo's never gone to a regular school, nor has she had a home outside the strange, secretive facility where she's lived most of her life.

You see, Bo was born with the ability to manipulate objects with her brain. She can also read people's minds. And sometimes, when Bo gets really angry, wild things happen. Bo doesn't have much control over her powers, of course. She's only 10. But still, the potential is there. That makes her, you might say, extra special—especially to the folks who'd like to control her.

This little girl stands at the center of NBC's Believe—a rollicking caper that's part Touch, part The Fugitive and often a bit … unbelievable.

What we know so far is this: Bo is on the run from Roman Skouras, a wealthy, shadowy guy who operates a boarding house/training facility/prison for "special" folks like Bo. Skouras has some connections with the government, and he seems to believe that the people at his facility might somehow be a national "resource." He might, that is, be able to weaponize them.

But Milton Winter, who worked with Bo for years under Skouras, would rather not see his precious pupil become a psychic A-bomb. And so he spirited the little girl away and now leads an underground effort to keep Bo out of Skouras' clutches. To accomplish that purpose he's assigned Bo a front-line defender—a man named Tate.

Tate might not seem like the most ideal candidate, what with him being a murderer and death-row escapee and all. Convicted killers generally don't make great babysitters for 10-year-old girls. And even if the guy's innocent (as he claims), the fact that Winter busted Tate out of prison pretty much guarantees nonstop police interest in his whereabouts. (So much for blending in.)

But besides Tate's inherent, um, resourcefulness, there's another reason why Winter chose him: He's actually Bo's father, a bombshell fact only Winter, Zoe (Skouras' head worker bee) and (now) the millions of us watching know.

Such is the setup for Believe.

While the show certainly has a strong pedigree (Gravity director Alfonso Cuarón and Lost co-creator J.J. Abrams are among its executive producers), it doesn't yet have the gravitas you might expect. Indeed, it can feel a little soap opera-ish every now and then, only with more explosions.

Tate and Bo's relationship is the beating heart of the adventure: Neither seem to care that much for the other at first (an obligatory trope found in almost every loving, caring relationship in entertainment). Tate finds Bo a drag on his newfound freedom. Bo scolds Tate for his law-shirking ways. But both are growing closer. And with each passing episode, Tate becomes more and more of a father—even as he's kept in the dark regarding his blood tie to the girl.

Worldview wise, Believe flirts with pseudo-scientific spirituality—unmoored right now to any real faith. As for the show's moral core, it's shaping up as a showdown between good and evil, with powers in play that can be scarcely understood. Content revolves around violence. Rarely does Tate escape an episode without a swath of cuts and bruises. People are beaten, threatened and sometimes die. Language can be rough at times, too.

So I'd like to see where the show might go with Bo before it makes a believer out of me.

Episode Reviews

"Beginner's Luck"

Tate and Bo find themselves in Atlantic City, escaping scrape after scrape—with Tate sometimes "borrowing" cars and threatening bystanders with nonexistent guns. With Bo's psychic help, Tate wins $30,000 at a craps table—money he says he wants to use to make their on-the-run lifestyle a bit easier. But when he and Bo meet a casino worker with a seriously ill child, Bo gives most of the winnings to the sick boy.

Skoula hires a frightening operative to re-acquire Bo (on the condition she not be harmed). The man chokes a craps dealer to learn where Tate and Bo were headed, then beats Tate bloody at a gas station (coldcocking him with a pump nozzle). He then drops a lighter on a stream of still-flowing gasoline, hoping to kill Tate. The gas station catches fire and a car explodes, but Tate recovers, beats up the hit man, pushes him out of the car and rescues Bo.

Tate kisses a scantily clad woman in a casino. There's talk of peeing in a cup while driving. People masquerade as police. They brandish weapons. They say "d‑‑n" (once), misuse God's name (twice), and interject "jeez" and "freaking."