Developed By: Eli Horowitz & Micah Bloomberg
Starring: Julia Roberts, Bobby Cannavale, Stephan James, Shea Whigham, Alex Karpovsky, Sissy Spacek, Alex Karpovsky
Certificate: 15 Running Time: 24-37 Minutes per Episode, 10 Episodes
I'm sure most of us have seen plenty of films and TV shows over the years that were based on books or video games or other stuff, but we now apparently have a show based on a podcast. Being the old-fashioned buffoon I am, I've never actually listened to a podcast in my life so I'm not totally sure how to approach a TV show based on one, but the creators of the podcast in question - Messrs Horowitz and Bloomberg - also handled its development for TV, so it should at least remain faithful to the source material. The source material in question involves Homecoming Transitional Support Center, a live-in facility run by the Geist Group intended to help traumatised soldiers readjust to civilian life. Most of them seem reasonably able-bodied and sound-of-mind to me so I'm not totally sure what traumas have so afflicted them, but they are there (voluntarily) all the same.
There are presumably a number of support staff and counsellors there but the only two we really spend time with are Heidi Bergman (Roberts) and Craig (Karpovsky). The latter helps the returning soldiers with basic group exercises such as mock job interviews but Heidi works with them one-on-one in much the same way as a psychiatrist might. Their boss is Colin Belfast (Cannavale), a supervisor for the Geist Group who has never actually been to the Homecoming centre, though he is in regular phone contact with Heidi and his other employees based there.
|Heidi in a session with Walter, her favourite veteran...|
This investigation is the most interesting aspect of the show's story too. Partly because details of the events from four years before are gradually revealed to us as well as Thomas as he discovers them, but it's also thanks to Whigham's excellent performance as the dogged investigator. He seems like little more than an irritant to start with, which is apparently how his condescending boss sees him too.
|Colin has received some bad news?|
|Thomas continues his search for clues...|
It's definitely distinctive these days and does make the show stand out but it's also so deliberate it often seems like more of a gimmick than anything to do with the vision of the director. This, to me at least, made it a bit of a distraction, and the last thing you want with a thriller is to be taken out of the story for any reason. It doesn't help that the story isn't really all that strong.
|Heidi digs around for clues about her past...|
Vitally, for much of its runtime it also has a tense, suspenseful atmosphere that even the Master would've been proud of. It's a slow-burner for sure but is worth watching if you have the patience for it, and with only ten 30-odd minute episodes, it shouldn't take too much. I just can't help feeling there should've been something more here though. The second season has already been confirmed but it will have a whole new story and set of characters, so maybe they'll go in a different, larger-scale direction with that. Time will tell, I guess...
RKS Score: 7/10