TV REVIEW: Persons Unknown

Diverse strangers find themselves stranded in a deserted town with no idea of how they got there. Security cameras are watching their every move, defeating their attempts to leave. Faced with physical, emotional and psychological challenges, the hostages must rely on each other to survive as their abductors sow mistrust and pit them against each other.

Imagine waking up in  strange place with no notion of how you got there and why. If that’s not bad enough add to that the knowledge of  discovering six strangers who like you have no idea why they are there and with cameras monitoring everything you do. You try to escape but steps have been taken to prevent this  until you have played out the mind games of your captors who you cannot see or hear. How do you react to the situation? Who do you trust? Do you trust anyone? What are you prepared to do to escape? These are just a few questions posed in the first episode of  Syfy UK’s latest show Persons Unknown.

Before we go any further a warning to anyone who has not heard of this show before – do not go searching for it online. The show itself was aired in the US last year and there are a lot of spoilers around so tread lightly people.

The story centers around seven strangers who have been kidnapped and transported to a seemingly deserted town in the middle of nowhere for unknown reasons. It doesn’t take look for the group to realise someone is playing games with them.

Out of our seven  characters (three men and three women) most of the screen time of episode one is given over to  Joe (who is definitely hiding the most out of the group at the moment) and Janet. In fact out of  these seven people it is only Janet’s abduction and imprisonment that is shown to the viewer. If  you wanted to get  really conspiratorial there is a case for assuming that all of the others could be working  for their captors and this is all about Janet. Of course that’s probably looking way too deep into this but it’s s a good sign that the plot is doing it’s job by getting me to ask questions and conjure up theories.  It’s always a danger with an ensemble show to not share the screen time around enough so I’ll be interested to see if  more of the other characters back stories are revealed as the show goes on.

The acting is solid enough but the characters they play are a pretty inspired bunch and feel like they’ve just stepped out of the latest disaster film. You have the secretive and moody loner, the plucky single mum,the tough as nails marine, spolit party girl, weasely corporate bloke…the list goes on.   The test on the actors will be if they can elevate the stereotypes they have to work with into something more.

At the moment it’s a first episode so I’m willing to give certain things a chance until the show has got a few more episodes under it’s belt. The premise is a strong one  with some intriguing elements already starting to creep in (fortune cookie anyone?) . It feels a little bit like an episode of a sinister new reality show  by way of ‘The Prisoner’  with even a ‘Big Brother’ style task for one characters in the show’s climax, with one hell of a reward if the task is completed.

Although I wasn’t wowed by episode one of Persons Unknown  I was left with the feeling that this episode was all about set up and with episode two the show runners will really be able to start the story moving.

The final scene did give me some hope that this was the first of many mind games which will be unleashed on the strangers over the remaining  episodes. Knowing this series is a self contained story set within thirteen episodes is a plus in my book as I know I’m not going to have to wait for six seasons to go by by before getting some answers.  It gives the show  an ‘all bets are off vibe’ and that maybe not everyone will be walking out of this strange town in one piece.

GS Rating: 3/5

GS Reviewer: Nuge

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One comment

  1. Loved this series when it was on in the US. Wish they had continued the story, or even jumped to just the next set of people, see how they all respond to the same scenerio.

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