As a showcase for Max Thieriot’s enchantment, Hearth Nation is working extra time. Enjoying Bode, who joins California’s inmate firefighter program with the intention to scale back his sentence, he has down pat the musclebound stature and puppy-dog expression of a brooding hunk with a coronary heart of gold — and ample time to point out off each, due to a script that, within the first two hourlong episodes, seizes each alternative to color Bode as a uniquely courageous and sensible soul.
To make certain, Bode is not any saint — we study early on that the explanation he was incarcerated within the first place was that he pled responsible to armed theft. He’s merely a scruffy knight in fire-resistant armor, tailored for audiences to admire and swoon over. The gambit works probably too nicely: So overwhelming is the Bode-ness of all of it that Hearth Nation leaves little oxygen for something or anybody else, flattening what might have been a better, extra fascinating procedural.
The Backside Line
May use extra spark.
Airdate: 9 p.m. Friday, Oct. 7 (CBS)
Forged: Max Thieriot, Billy Burke, Kevin Alejandro, Diane Farr, Stephanie Arcila, Jordan Calloway, Jules Latimer
Government producers: Max Thieriot, Jerry Bruckheimer, Tony Phelan, Joan Rater, Tia Napolitano, Jonathan Littman, KristieAnne Reed
Hearth Nation, impressed by Thieriot’s personal experiences rising up in a fire-prone space of California (he serves as government producer and obtained a “story by” credit score on the pilot), finds Bode enlisting in this system solely as a final resort, after he’s denied for parole. But regardless of his inexperience, he rapidly proves a pure. On his very first fireplace, which comes halfway via the premiere, he reveals himself to be the kind of man who’ll run headfirst into hazard to avoid wasting a stranger, direct instructions to remain put be damned. The issue is that he occurs to have been stationed in his previous hometown of Edgewater, which he’d fled below mysterious circumstances some years prior.
The sequence takes its time mapping out exactly how all of the principal gamers are related to Bode, including a little bit of soapy intrigue to go along with the flame-based episodic storylines. The forged surrounding Thieriot present sparks of potential: Billy Burke and Diane Farr share an intriguingly sophisticated chemistry as a pair of married fireplace chiefs whose hard-won happiness is threatened by the secrets and techniques Bode’s arrival threatens to disclose, whereas Jordan Calloway and Jules Latimer make for a enjoyable pair of elite firefighter BFFs buying and selling encouragement and courting recommendation between emergencies.
However they’re let down by a script that sounds too usually like a primary draft ready for some nuance and character to flesh out its core concepts. Hearth Nation might spend a while exploring the psychologies of its firefighters — what attracts them to such harmful jobs within the first place and what makes them excel at it, and the private toll that fixed peril can tackle an individual’s life. As an alternative, it merely has Eve (Latimer) observe to the commitment-averse Jake (Calloway), “We’re afraid to get near anybody as a result of what if we do and we die.” It’s a poignant thought, however not when it’s said so baldly as that.
At the least Jake and Eve’s inside lives benefit some consideration. Hearth Nation notably spares little or no time or consideration for the all-prisoner firefighting group that Bode ostensibly spends most of his time with. The only real exception is Freddy (W. Tre Davis), who serves variously as comedian reduction for an in any other case straight-faced present, or because the Goofus to Bode’s Gallant. The remaining stay a largely nameless, interchangeable assortment of faces surrounding Bode. (And lest you assume that might change because the season progresses, even Davis is credited as a recurring visitor relatively than a sequence common.)
It’s a missed alternative to dig into the particular experiences of California’s inmate firefighters — to look at the connection between skilled firefighters and their incarcerated counterparts, or to query how individuals in this system who aren’t angsty heroes pressured to return to their hometowns would possibly really feel concerning the discount they’ve struck. (There’s a temporary dialog on the jail bus about how comparatively good the cash is — $5 a day, extra if there’s a fireplace — which briefly makes Hearth Nation really feel like a business for this system.) Nor does Hearth Nation have any obvious curiosity in delving into the causes and results of the steadily growing fireplace threat in California, due to local weather change.
Maybe nuanced discussions of such heated points are an excessive amount of to anticipate from Hearth Nation, which doesn’t fake to harbor ambitions of hard-hitting commentary. Its intention is to ship the dependable pleasures of watching good-hearted, handsome individuals overcome adversity in 45 minutes or much less, whereas often getting embroiled in juicy private drama. That, it accomplishes handily — the primary two installments alone embrace a automotive crash, a lighting storm, a rescue effort for a child and a race towards time to avoid wasting a dying man. In the actual world, fires can wreak unpredictable havoc, leaving loads of blame to go round of their wake.
In Hearth Nation, the fires appear to return from nowhere, and their repercussions rain down offscreen to characters we don’t see sufficient of to care about. They’re amoral forces of nature that our characters don’t have any bother confining to the perimeters of our TVs. It’s a kind of consolation.
Nevertheless, Hearth Nation‘s incuriosity additionally undermines the extra private themes it does need to grapple with — specifically these about forgiveness and second possibilities. On the shut of the second episode, Bode’s boss Manny (Kevin Alejandro) stresses to him that Cal Hearth is his alternative to both stay the “deadbeat” some presume him to be, or rise to turn out to be “the person” that Manny is aware of Bode could be, lavishing reward on Bode for his innate fearlessness, instinct and management.
As recommendation goes, it’s not horrible. However it’s telling that Manny provides it simply to Bode, whereas surrounded by empty jail cots that remind us that Bode is considered one of many. Whereas Bode worries that his redemption will likely be onerous to return by, Hearth Nation‘s already made up its thoughts by portraying him as an distinctive particular person so clearly deserving of it — even womanizer Jake and anguished Vince are painted as extra clearly flawed, Bode’s armed theft conviction however. Its message would possibly hit tougher if it tried tougher to increase a few of that grace to those that might truly use it.
‘Hearth Nation’ Evaluate: CBS Firefighter Procedural Delivers Watchable, Empty Heroics