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Nathan Fillion

Nathan Fillion - "Drive" Tv Series - Ign.com Review

Saturday 14 April 2007, by Webmaster

If you’ve enjoyed The Amazing Race, but felt that what it was lacking was kidnapping, guns and vehicular mayhem, then Drive is the show for you. Drive begins with an amusing proclamation, letting us know that "For as long as there have been cars, there has been the race," which makes one wonder if there was a secret, illegal cross country race involving some very, very slow automobiles at the turn of the last century.

"The Race", as it’s simply referred to, is an unknown quantity to the three people we meet first in Drive, but they quickly find themselves immersed in it, after receiving a mysterious phone call inviting them to join, just as each of them have come to a crossroad in their life. Wendy (Melanie Lynskey) has just given birth to a baby. Winston (Kevin Alejandro) has just been released from prison. And Alex (Nathan Fillion) has a much more extreme situation, as he’s discovered his wife is missing. And as it turns out, the mysterious Mr. Bright (a very enjoyable, smirky Charles Martin Smith) gives Alex a not so subtle hint that he’ll find his wife at the finish line... not to mention the 32 million dollars the winner will get.

Among the other contestants we meet in the two-hour premiere of Drive are a father (Dylan Baker) who has taken his unaware teenage daughter (Emma Stone) along for the ride; a young Iraq war veteran (Riley Smith) and his wife (Mircea Monroe); and a trio of friends (Rochelle Aytes, Taryn Manning and Michael Hyatt) who met in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Alex in the meantime quickly comes into contact with two people whose roles in the race are initially murkier; a stowaway named Corinna (Kristin Lehman) and a rather intense man named Bill (Brian Bloom; doing a good job of channeling The Terminator in his early scenes). These two people will put the race into a different perspective for Alex, leading to him making some big decisions along the way.

Drive is a somewhat goofy show, but it’s also a fun one. Executive Producer Tim Minear (Angel) has worked on some very interesting and notable series in the past, most notably Firefly, along with Wonderfalls and The Inside, all of which were pulled way too quickly by FOX - the same network airing Drive, so here’s hoping they give this one a better chance. Drive lacks the unique feeling of some of Minear’s best work, and has a more basic (albeit high concept) idea at its center. However, he has managed to infuse it with much of his trademark wit and charm along the way. Fans of Minear’s previous work will also be pleased to see Angel’s Amy Acker as Alex’s missing wife (seen in a dream sequence so far), and Richard Brooks (Firefly’s creepy bounty hunter, Jubal Early) as a detective.

Drive is taking Prison Break’s timeslot on FOX, airing before 24, and it’s a good fit. Like those two serialized action series, it exists in a bigger than life world, where the twists come fast and furious (excuse the inadvertent car movie reference) and real world rules often don’t apply. In the Drive two hour premiere we discover that the people behind The Race have been able to place their agents seemingly everywhere, to an extent that is both ridiculous and intriguing. This is a show you are asked to take a ride with, and it’s pointless to keep saying, "That couldn’t really happen."

Fillion is re-teaming with his former Firefly producer Minear here, and once more, it’s a good fit. Fans of Firefly’s Captain Malcom Reynolds should note that Alex isn’t quite so prone to witty banter as Mal was, but Fillion brings his usual charisma and gravity to the role, and there are some occasional (and surprising) humorous moments that he knows how to play just right.

With so many main characters — including Winston’s brother, played by J.D. Pardo — it’s impossible to get to know all of them very well right off the bat, and it remains to be seen who might come to be among the most compelling. The trio of female friends and the young husband and wife are probably the least defined in the first two hours, but of course that’s what future episodes are for. There is some obvious expository dialogue along the way too - Ellie (Monroe) has give some chunkily delivered background on Rob (Smith), and Winston has a phone conversation with his rich father that rather directly references the past, in a bit too direct manner.

But the show also has some very clever dialogue too, much of involving Wendy. Lynskey, best known for Heavenly Creatures, is great as the meek and quiet young mother, who hardly seems the type to be involved in a race like this. By the end of the first two hours, Wendy has gotten herself into some of the most interesting situations of any of the racers, and Lynskey puts just the right spin on some of her matter of fact statements.

Drive is ultimately an action show, and it delivers the goods. There are some legitimately exciting and thrilling car chases in the premiere, and more than one genuine, "Whoa!" moment. The second hour begins with a flashback that has a particularly effective sequence.

It’s very hard to imagine Drive existing as a long term show; it’s very premise calls for an ending, in a more extreme way than other serialized shows. However, Minear and his collaborators have crafted a fun and involving world so far that’s easy to get involved with. By the end of the premiere more than one character has a surprising new partner, and some interesting secrets are revealed. It’s hard not to be curious what comes next.