Culture of Pop

Review: ‘Limitless’ Premieres on CBS

CBS’s new drama Limitless is a continuation of the film of the same name starring Bradley Cooper. Bradley Cooper shows up in the pilot, but the focus in the TV show is on Brian Finch (Manhattan Love Story‘s Jake McDorman). He’s an ordinary man who unlocks his brain’s full potential thanks to a new drug. This gives the show an excuse to use a lot of overplayed visual effects.

Limitless is incredibly weighed down by exposition. There is endless voiceover, special effects establishing that his brain is working real fast and scenes of Brian talking to himself. Even the scenes with actual dialogue feel expository, rather than building relationship dynamics. As a result, you feel like you’re watching a long introduction and then suddenly the episode is over. Maybe the show will get better when it doesn’t feel the need to do so much explaining the rules of this universe, but so far there’s nothing interesting here.

Brian is a bland character who feels like an audience-identification character for the “cool guy” fantasy that plays out. He complains about his dull office job in the beginning, then struts around in a leather jacket later. McDorman doesn’t add any extra charisma to the flat character.

The female lead Rebecca (Jennifer Carpenter) isn’t any stronger as a character. Her character suffers because of the poor premise and what a bad job the show does of making sense of things. For instance, in a scene where she talks to her supervisor, in the same breath she says that they won’t have to trust Brian if they’re able to control him and that he’ll be more powerful than any agent they have. So they’ll be able to control him and he’ll be more powerful than any of them?

It feels like the show didn’t think much through beyond setpieces showing off his powers that attempt to be cool but fall flat because they’ve been seen before and there isn’t enough character or emotion supporting them.

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