CBS's newest thriller starring Toni Collette and Dylan McDermott is just like a real-life politician: slick, impeccably styled and often displays touches of brilliance.  Unfortunately, it works too hard and too fast to get your vote.

Collette plays Dr. Ellen Sanders, a surgeon who was selected to operate on the President. McDermott is a rogue FBI agent who takes her family hostage in order to force Sanders to kill POTUS during surgery.  Toss in Tate Donovan has her filandering, lying husband, and her darling children--a daughter concealing a pregnancy and a drug dealin' son--and poor Dr. Sanders has more to cry about than one of those angst-ridden, tragedy magnets on "Grey's Anatomy."  But so does her kidnapper.  He has a cancer-stricken wife, an adorable young daughter and a job has an FBI agent whose training seemingly consisted of watching the Diehard franchise a lot. 

"Hostages" succeeds at building the suspense in ways that are more organic than manipulative.  A strange noise from the shadows could either be a masked gunman or the family's adorable dog bounding from the bushes. Emmy-winner Collette ("The United States of Tara") and Emmy-nominated McDermott ("The Practice") are no strangers to drama, and shoulder the cinching tension with deft ease.  In the pilot, Collette is particularly captivating as both a terrified woman and a mother lion ready to dive in front of a gun just to keep it from being pointed at her daughter.  Dr. Sanders, embued with Collette's trademark fierceness, won't cower for long. 

Unfortunately, the drama packs too much into one episode.  Like many popular television shows on cable, the season will be just 13 episodes, but the pace of the pilot feels akin to watching an action movie on fast forward.  The son and the daughter both confess their secrets to the kidnappers in the first hours of captivity, while Bad Guy #2 reveals he didn't kill the family dog only sedated it.  It's a clunky attempt to humanize these criminal masterminds.  Further driven home by McDermott's Carlisle growling, "Sometimes you have to do a bad thing for a good reason," showing that while his actions are dark, his intentions are exceedingly noble.  

"Hostages" is an intriguing, suspenseful, and necessary departure from the network that rolls out procedurals on a Hollywood assembly line.  It should be elected to the highest office a show can get: Appointment Television.  

Grade: B+

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