Created by Mark Friedman and Alfonso Cuarón “Believe” has earned itself the moniker of a feel-good fantasy-drama series – which is maybe not quite the reputation it was hoping for…
The series features Milton Winter (Delroy Lindo), a “True Believer” who must keep Bo, a 10 year old girl with special powers, safe from dangerous forces who are trying to capture her and use her abilities for their own nefarious purposes. Along the way, Winter recruits a wrongly convicted inmate by the name of Tate (Jake McLaughlin) who must help protect Bo (Johnny Sequoyah) from the evil forces of the world.
The problem with Believe is that it is all… rather unbelievable… and the plot is a little bit absurd at times. Bo seems to literally morph into a teenager before your eyes- despite producers insisting she’s only 10 – and she veers between being rather dreamy and a tad precocious, and the other characters seem to spend an awfully long time building up their back stories.
It’s the shows executive producers who have actually drawn the most attention to the series and JJ Abrams, co- creator of the hit TV series Lost and director of numerous Star Trek Movies, and Alfonso Cuarón who recently went home with an impressive haul at the 2014 Academy Awards for his feature film Gravity, were both instrumental in bringing Believe to the small screen. Believe however, not only lacks a crashed plane, a mysterious island and Sandra Bullock, it also lacks depth, but it does make for some rather fun viewing if you don’t take your sci-fi too seriously.
The fight scenes are pretty epic and the Matrix costume designer and choreographer seem to have slipped in to create baddies in all black outfits who do spin-kicks even when the enemy is on the other side of the room. These black-clad baddies have also paused mid fight to exclaim “not cool” which made us wonder if the editing had somehow included real-life responses from actors, rather than a punchy storyline.
The plot is pretty solid and could easily be built on, but the storyline definitely needs some work and you keep expecting something completely absurd to happen, like Bo using her powers to win the jackpot at iPadcasino.co.nz and escaping to a desert island (probably with the cast of Lost) or Tate suddenly telling us where he learnt his ninja skills, that oddly have not been mentioned despite us being privy to his entire life story thanks to a full minute monologue in the first episode.
There’s good chemistry between Bo and Tate and they form a rather amusing double act as the dreamy little girl with infinite wisdom and special powers, and the hardened criminal with a soft side. You would think however that with all her special powers and Tate’s street wise savvy they would know to check all the closets and not leave out the one the monster is hiding in. The exchanges between Bo and Tate and the fatherly concern Winter has for Bo add the majority of the feel-good element to the series and you almost know from the start there’s going to be a happy, if somewhat predicable conclusion.
Believe isn’t dark or punchy enough to be compared to the likes of Kick-Ass, although Bo could easily have filled the role of Hit-Girls ethereal little sister ,and the amount of violence rules it out a bit for family viewing. It’s a great middle of the road series though, and it’s not without its touching moments between the oddest on-screen couples we have seen in a while, and neither does it lack hard-core action scenes. It does seem however a little bit like whoever named the series “Believe” knew that viewers would really have to stretch their imaginations…
Sadly, the show will only run for one season, and after airing nine episodes NBC pulled Believe and replaced it with a temporary slot filler. If you’d like to check out Believe, it airs on Watch in the UK.