At a point during development of TV shows, executives have discovered Israeli television, and the astoundingly large amount of intriguing serialized dramas of that country. HBO’s IN TREATMENT can be considered the first of those American adaptation that made a name for itself, and some like CBS’s short-lived THE EX LIST from 2008 you don’t even know they were adapted from Israeli television. Eventually, HOMELAND became the most successful Israeli adaptation on American television. And because of HOMELAND, networks tried to capitulate on Showtime’s success. Not only HOMELAND clones were born between networks, but also the effort to bring more Israeli dramas to America. HOSTAGES is one of these – it premiered three weeks prior to the Israeli original, and it had a very modern Western premise that would make great television, as long as you know how to keep the thrill alive throughout an entire season.
Unfortunately for CBS, HOSTAGES was not much of a success from the beginning. Created as this multi-episode TV event, the network kind of made the mistake to bloat up the episode order and eventually have the season run into 2014 with only two episodes left that were aired back to back. It’s a mistake, because you let your audience sitting on the season (and potentially series) finale over the Christmas break, which is something you should be avoiding. But that wasn’t the problem that killed HOSTAGES at the end. The ratings were low from the beginning, and for CBS standards, even a nightmare. With a little luck (and probably because of the fact that HOSTAGES was a show unlike CBS has on its schedule) the show never crashed below the 1.0 mark in the target demographic, but the show couldn’t get anything out of anything Monday nights.
Two things I learned while looking up the Israeli original, which I kind of want to watch now: It starred Ayelet Zurer and Alona Tal. The former is Wilson Fisk’s girlfriend in MARVEL’S DAREDEVIL, and the latter waited multiple seasons to be killed off on SUPERNATURAL, in which she played Jo – a character I always adored, and was very angry when she was eventually and literally blown up. In Alona Tal’s case, I didn’t even know she was Israeli.