TV Wunderkid Ryan Murphy returns to the FOX network for the drama 9-1-1. The dramedy which follows the lives of Los Angeles first responders: cops, paramedics, firefighters, and dispatchers, in their jobs as well as their personal lives. With an ensemble cast, the show three leads are Angela Bassett, Peter Krause, and Connie Britton, who have all worked with Murphy in the past. Given the title, one would expect the show to have some imaginative 911 scenarios, and in that aspect, it succeeds. One phone call involving a baby and a toilet peaked my interest right away. However, with most series created by Murphy, the real bread & butter comes with the casting.
Bassett portrays Athena Grant, field sergeant who in my opinion is the most robust written character in the pilot. Basset walks into the role with ease in her portrayal of a cop who is no-nonsense.
Krause portrays Bobby Nash, a fire captain who is a recovering addict who fails in his attempt to save a rescue victim in the first episode. Krause leads his team which includes Oliver Stark as Evan “Buck” Buckley, firefighter. Aisha Hinds as Henrietta “Hen” Wilson, firefighter/paramedic. Kenneth Choi as Howie “Chimney” Han, firefighter/paramedic.
Finally, the always delightful Britton portrays 911 operator. Abby Clark. The show opens with Clark going through her daily calls, and we get an embrace of what 911 operators go through. Britton has always played the motherly role well, but here she is playing against type, which is quite refreshing to see, and next Basset she was my favorite part of the show,
Sadly, though there isn’t too much to recommend other than the acting from the pilot episode. My biggest gripe of the show comes with the handling of Rockmund Dunbar’s character who portrays Athena’s husband. The arc of having Dunbar come out to his family seemed forced and predictable. I would have liked to see his character lose all his money investing in bitcoins. Which would force Mrs. Grant to become the primary breadwinner which may have made for a better season.
Additionally, Krause and his team of firefighters aren’t really given that much to do. Hinds has shown great dramatic range in the past, and here along with Choi she just appears to be there. The only firefighter given a real arc is Buck, who would rather chase skirts than be a firefighter.
There is also very little interaction between our three leads. While I understand the angle that Murphy and his co-writers were going for, it would have been great to see the three leads interact more in a setting as simple as a coffee shop. Murphy who has had two successful shows with FOX has a decent series on his hands; it just needs to be tweaked a bit more if it wants some longevity.
Final Grade: C-