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‘Taken’ Comes to the TV Screen
February 26, 2017  | By David Hinckley

Just because you loved the movie franchise Taken doesn’t mean you can take it easy when you watch NBC’s new quasi-prequel.

The new TV series Taken, which premieres Monday at 10 p.m. ET, is an origin story for the Bryan Mills character played in the movies by Liam Neeson.

The TV Mills, younger by about 30 years, is played by Clive Standen (top). He’s still got that same reluctant hero attitude and he still attracts loathsome villains and ultraviolence the way Ugg boots attract teenage girls.

The first episode shows us the tragedy that explains how Mills got into this world and apparently dooms him to remain there. If Neeson’s character seemed scarred and haunted, now we know why.

By the end of the first episode, we have also met a pivotal character who may be even more intriguing than Mills.

That would be Christina Hart, played by Jennifer Beals (right). As special deputy director for National Intelligence, Hart is in charge of recruiting people like Mills to do what’s necessary to find and thwart bad guys.

To do that job, she has to be as hard and unblinking as those bad guys, and Beals plays her beautifully, at the temperature of dry ice.

This oversimplified summation makes Taken sound more straightforward than it plays on the screen.

Following in the bootprints of numerous other troubled good guys on TV shows and in the movies, Mills honed his skills in the military. He saw and did traumatic things and when he left, he hoped to find some peace of mind, or at least some peace.

No such luck. There were too many threads from his past for him not to get tangled in some of them, and that’s the genesis here of both the tragedy and his recruitment by Hart.

Whether it’s the need to create a plausible backstory for the older Mills or simply the desire by the creators to set up multiple directions for the TV show, the first episode of Taken turns out to be enormously complicated.

The time shifts are manageable, but sorting out the cast of characters requires almost military discipline by the viewer.

The good news is that there’s a reward. By the end of the first episode, it’s possible to at least understand what teams are on the field and who seems to be wearing which uniform.

It looks like Taken will be the latest show that leads the viewer through a long major story arc toward a potential big payoff while resolving side issues along the way.

As a bedtime story, it will rev up your brain even before it gets down to the serious business of eliminating lots and lots of bad guys by any means available.

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