Recently, networks have decided to delve into making reboots or expanding mythologies of movie franchises into TV shows. Thus, CBS has recently tried to profit from the already existing fan-base of Limitless, a less successful Minority Report and a yet-to-be-seen Rush Hour series.
Limitless is based on the movie of the same name starring Bradley Cooper. What's interesting is that the show is not only an adaptation but also takes place in the same universe as the movie. The synopsis is described as follows:
Brian Finch, a 28-year-old who hasn't done anything with his life, is introduced to NZT-48, a miracle drug that gives him access to every neuron in his brain. For twelve hours after taking the pill, he becomes the smartest person in the world, able to perfectly recall every detail of his life. With the mysterious U.S. Senator Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper) providing him with a second drug to counteract NZT's deadly side effects, Brian uses his enhanced abilities to help FBI agent Rebecca Harris (Jennifer Carpenter).
Limitless presents itself like a lot of shows, that is to say, as a new formula that we can commonly find in the television landscape. We can find a lot of similarities with shows like Mentalist or even Castle, telling the story of an unexpected association between a consultant and the police or FBI. It is a pitch seen over and over again, thus, the show had to find a formula that differentiated its story from the rest of the seemingly interchangeable shows what we can find on TV. And it works perfectly.
The premise worryingly seemed to only be a repetition of the movie, but then, Limitless forged its own identity and tone really quickly. This success has a lot to do with Jake McDorman, who made Finch a really likable character with whom we can identify. Finch was a failure and had so far made nothing of his life; Limitless is basically about him trying to do good thanks to the NZT.
The show's mythology has been built upon NZT, the drug that gives Finch his incredible abilities. Unlike other subjects, he finds himself immune against the side effects of the pill, making him a precious asset for the FBI. Bradley Cooper's sporadic appearances, reprising his role as Edward Morra, help give even more weight to the main story of the show.
Also, there is a real chemistry between Finch and his FBI handler Rebecca Harris that makes their relationship something refreshing. Unlike other shows, Finch doesn't fit in right away with the team and even after eight episodes is not allowed to do many things outside of working in the FBI office. The characters are also not dumb, and there is a really realistic take on Brian's role as a consultant that won't make your hair stand on end.
The writers really embraced the procedural side of the show and really made it work. Each investigation is only a pretext to help Finch grow as a person. His actions while under NZT are pretty hilarious. We are given montages of his thoughts every episodes, giving a really funny tone and identity to a show that you can't find elsewhere. The show always finds a way to turn dramatic situations into funny episodes thanks to McDorman, who has been a real revelation for me this year.
After eight episodes, Limitless has already become one of the biggest success of this fall and is only waiting to extend its growing mythology. I think this show was a real surprise for a lot of people and it has found a way to distinguish itself from the crowd with a really unique take on the formulaic genre.
With an almost perfect start, Limitless has got a promising future ahead of it.
Limitless airs Tuesdays on CBS.