Broadcast networks are hemorrhaging ad revenue. Their news divisions are dwindling. Mainstays of popular TV shows are treated like disposable commodities. What are the networks to do? Well NBC, which reported a 41% profit plunge, has an idea: chase terrorists.
The Wanted, which premieres tonight, is modeled after the gotcha style of NBC's To Catch a Predator series. Sadly though, there is no Chris Hansen coyly waiting for a dynamite-strapped suicide bomber inside of his kitchen ("Hello Mullah, I'm Chris Hansen. This transcript of your IM chat with FoxyTeen13 says that you wish death upon American. Is that true?"). The series was developed by Echo Ops Productions, a private production company that works under the oversight NBC News. The series splices actual footage of terror-huntin' with scripted reenactments.
So if a hard-nosed justice seeker Chris Hansen isn't busting these guys who is? NBC has assembled a team of professional hunters: a panelist who presided over a war crimes tribunal, a counterterrorism expert, an "unconventional warfare" expert, and a journalist who has devoted the last decade to sniffing out evil-doers that hide in plain sight. Charlie Ebersol, son of Dick Ebersol, the chairman of NBC Sports, is an executive producer of the series.
Tonight's premiere episode follows Mullah Krekar, the founder of an organization that the U.S. government classified a terrorist group in 2003. Right now, Mullah is hiding out in Norway. Viewers will be shown surveillance operations in the man's neighborhood in Oslo. Some critics have already seen it! What do they say?
However noble their intentions, the producers of "The Wanted" have achieved the seemingly impossible: trivializing the battle against terrorism by dressing it up as a reality TV show, complete with urgent music, tough-talking direct-to-camera confessionals and what looks to be prominent product placement for Nissan. —Variety
(Oh, man! Seriously?! Buy American for chrissake!)
The Wanted" isn't just some "reality" show. It has serious real-world aspirations and potentially serious real-world consequences. But it also has a TV gloss, and that's the part that's unsettling. Maybe the strongest message of "The Wanted" is that not every mission is suitable for television. — NY Daily News
There is a good story buried somewhere in the Scandinavian gloom, but "The Wanted" leaves it almost untouched. Mr. Ciralsky complains that "Norway is letting justice get in the way of justice." NBC News is letting reality-show aesthetics get in the way of journalism. — NYT
Uh, so, what else is on? Well, Prom Night in Mississippi, a documentary following one Mississippi town's segregated proms is at 9pm on HBO tonight. Meet ya in Dixie!