The Nuts and Bolts of the CBS Premiere of Salvation – It Still Needs Work

the CBS premiere of Salvatiion


Okay, now that you’ve seen the CBS premiere of Salvation we can chat.  This review will contain spoilers!  If you haven’t seen it and don’t want to be spoiled, come back after you have. (There’s a repeat of it on Friday at 9pm.) You can can also check out our Salvation preview.

The CBS premiere of Salvation – What Worked – and What Didn’t

This is a broadcast television show.  If you were looking for gourmet television – this was not it.  Broadcast TV is like…pizza.  No, it’s not the most nutritious thing to have all the time, but everyone likes a couple of slices every now and again.  Some reviewers might disdain those who watch broadcast shows.  Personally, I see no reason why one has to swear off pizza if you also enjoy French onion soup and Duck a l’Orange.

The basic premise:

Using an actual event to set this up was straight-up cool – and fooled a lot of people who saw the promos.  If you go on Youtube  you can find dozens of videos showing the real 2013 meteorite streaking across the Russian sky.  It’s entirely possible they just found on and superimposed it in the schoolyard scene.  That’s how authentic-looking that scene is.

How did scientists miss the large Russian Asteroid hurtling towards Earth?

Simply put, the meteoroid was too small for the survey telescopes and came at us out of the Sun.


After this event in 2013 NASU and other scientists world-wide immediately started to research a better way to detect Near Earth Objects (NEOs) that could end up colliding with earth (

Even when we find one of these NEOs we don’t necessarily find them them with a ton of lead time.  At the time of the Russian hit, scientists had been tracking another large asteroid that could have possibly hit.  They’d only been following that one for about a year.  In the CBS premiere of Salvation the government has known about “Samson” three months before our hero discovers it.  That makes it about nine months before possible impact.  This time frame is plausible, even though the likelihood of one so large being missed is tiny.  (Are you nervous yet?)

Establishing the main characters:

The CBS premiere of Salvation did a solid job of introducing viewers to the major and secondary players – and within 15 minutes.  We know Liam Cole (Charlie Rowe) from countless film and TV portrayals of genius geek college guys.  Him running late because he’d been up all night working on his science project is par for the course.  The lack of shoes was a nice touch.

The CBS premiere of Salvation - Liam Cole

Likewise, “tech superstar” Darius Tanz (Santiago Cabrera) is your standard dark and handsome rogue/genius character.

The Nuts and Bolts of the CBS Premiere of Salvation – It Still Needs Work

You would think that there are just tons of attractive but arrogant tech multi-billionaires running around from the way they show up on television.  There aren’t.  However, just out of curiosity, I googled a bunch of silicon valley/social media app inventors.


The CBS premiere of Salvation - real life tech billionaires.

These guys are creators of:
Google, Facebook, Instagram, Apple Computers, Snapchat, Twitter, and Oracle!

Anecdotally, I can see how these two views of either sweet or suave super-smart science/tech business guys came about.  Writers didn’t create these stereotypes in a vacuum.  Liam’s instant love story aside, I buy Liam and Darius as characters.

What’s Love Got to do with it?

Overall, the weakest link in the CBS premiere of Salvation are the so-called love stories.  The first one has been expedited to jumpstart the story.  Meanwhile the second is just annoying. Let’s deal with the annoying one first.

the CBS Premiere of Salvation - Harris & Grace

Grace Barrows (Jennifer Finnigan) works for Pentagon as a public relations-spin doctor-press-secretary type character.  Her boss is Harris Edwards (Ian Anthony Dale).  It was all going so well – and then…

The Nuts and Bolts of the CBS Premiere of Salvation – It Still Needs Work

…we find out she’s also in a “secret” relationship with him.

This sleeping with the boss thing is so cliche’ – and it  immediately makes you wonder about Grace’s judgement.  It’s not that work relationships don’t happen, but her job is public relations! She knows how bad it looks. Learning that she’s requested a transfer so that they can be open about their relationship doesn’t help.   How did she let herself get into this in the first place?

The Grace and Harris problem

Why was this storyline even necessary?  Because they needed an obstacle to keep Grace from falling into bed with Darius? (That will eventually happen – we already know this.) She’s got reason enough not to without Harris as her boyfriend.  For one, she’s trying to save the world for her her daughter Zoe (Rachel Drance). That is what ultimately motivates her to go and tell Darius he’s got to find a way to save everyone – not just a few thousand in his “space ark.”  Since she’s not some college kid (There’s more about that in the next section!) it would be weird for her to skew off-task just to get laid.

I suppose you could argue that Grace’s relationship with Harris shows she’s willing to break the rules.  Unfortunately,  like algebra, that would only hold if it were the same on both sides of the equation.  Harris is breaking the rules, but he’s also shown to be someone who would rather lie to Grace than break the rules pertaining to the government.  Darius said that Harris is “a patriot, but also a bureaucrat.  Hopefully we’ll get to see this inner conflict in action and not just be told it exists.  I also hope Harris doesn’t turn into the heavy/bad guy.  Not everyone making bad decisions are motivated by malcontent.

As separate characters Harris & Grace do have potential.  We’ll see what happens with Harris.  With Grace, the juxtaposition of her way of thinking against Darius’s is already an interesting dynamic.  Her choices to not trust Harris (as a boyfriend or a boss) about those test results of the meteorite-destroying rocket suggests a woman who relies her instincts.  Also, Finnigan’s portrayal infuses Grace with a strong believability that helps offset the tired storyline of Grace dating her boss.

Liam and Jillian  – young love?

This is all I could think while watching the “relationship” between Liam and the sci-fi writer Jillian Hayes (Jacqueline Byers) unfold.  Are millennials naive enough to equate a great hookup with true love?   I seem to recall that at that age we were a far more cynical bunch in school. (Yes, I’m from Gen X.)  Then again, I’ve had opportunities to observe these Gen Y & Z kids heading off to college and living the college life.  I sometimes call them, “The Disney Generation”… so maybe they are.

The problem with the whole, “I think I’m in love” bit from Liam is that I, and anyone over the age of 30, know better.  So even if Liam is totally invested in this relationship with Jillian it’s really difficult for me to care about it.  It’s a plot line that feels sped up to reflect the urgency of the 186 day timeline.  Perhaps if they’d left it there – that upon facing his mortality Liam decided to spend all his free time with the girl he’d had such a great time with – it wouldn’t feel so forced.  As for Jillian, thus far she’s just the love interest.  Whether she becomes more relevant and interesting remains to be seen.  Being that Byers is part of principal cast, let’s hope so.

A witchy reporter? Seriously

Thus far, Amanda Neel (Shazi Raja) seems like every negative portrayal of  a reporter that’s ever been done.  Clearly Amanda’s on the serious political beat if she’s in the room with the Pentagon’s press secretary.  Yet she comes off like a scheming tabloid hack only concerned about a story she can sell, not the contents of it.  Honestly, it’s no wonder the public tends to distrust the people that do the news.  Like Byers, Neel is on the principal cast list.  Out of all the characters the CBS premiere of Salvation introduced, she’s the most two-dimensional.  Again, hopefully that will change.

The Wrap Up: The Jury is Still Out

Even pizza has grades and standards.  In New York you can get a cheap dollar slice, a pie from a fast food chain, or the authentic Italian deal from a local pizzeria.  What kind of pizza is Salvation going to be?  The pilot has it in the fast-food chain category, but there’s potential for improvement.  I do like the characters of Grace, Liam and Darius, and I’m curious about what is planned with this asteroid.  

The chemistry between the characters  of Grace and Darius is  good.  I enjoy  will-they or won’t-they TV romances when they’re done well.  However, Salvation would have been better served if it started out with the choices Grace makes being about the issue of her job and her relationship to what the government requires from her.  Instead we’re being hit over the head with a love triangle setup.  If Grace isn’t shown to be more than a cheerleader for Darius and Liam to save the world then this show is going to get old fast.

Here’s the other thing the CBS premiere of Salvation got me thinking about.  It’s  is not a limited series.  That means at some point they’ll have to deal with that 186 day timeline.  After watching the pilot it occurs to me that this first season of  Salvation could turn out to be like the first season of ABC‘s Once Upon a Time or better yet, that of the Fox series Fringe.

Both of the latter TV shows started out telling one story only to morph into a different one altogether.  I say this because Darius was building a space ark. It seems unthinkable that a show would be about what happens after the world blows up.  That would, though, make a lot of sense of the show’s title.  Hmmm…. what do you think?  Leave your theories in the comments!


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