May 22, 2019

SHOWBUZZDAILY Series Premiere Review: “Blood & Treasure”


BLOOD & TREASURE:  Tuesday 10PM on CBS

Summer has come to network TV, which means 4 months with tons of unscripted offerings and the occasional downscale scripted series.  The latter is typified by CBS’s BLOOD & TREASURE, which had a 2-hour premiere after the NCIS season finale in an (unsuccessful) attempt to goose the ratings.

Most of this summer fare fits squarely in a genre mold, and Blood & Treasure isn’t at all shy about acknowledging that it’s trying to remind viewers of Raiders of the Lost Ark and its sequels.  Not only does the plot involve Nazis and Egyptian antiquities, but at one point the dialogue actually refers to the Steven Spielberg franchise, in what’s meant to be a moment of self-knowing cheekiness.  But cheekiness requires some point of view, and B&T doesn’t have one, other than the hope that fans of the classic adventures will settle for this pale copy.

The one mild shift from the Indiana Jones template is a gender switch:  here, the swashbuckler is art thief Lexi Vaziri (Sofia Pernas), and her more mild-mannered, ex-FBI counterpart is Danny McNamara (Matt Barr).  The pilot script, by series creators Matthew Federman and Stephen Scaia, has them hunting for Cleopatra’s sarcophagus, which is apparently capable of being “weaponized,” while temporarily resisting their attraction to one another.  Hapless Interpol agents led by Katia Winter are constantly one step behind our heroes, and there’s an immediate villain in the person of Karim Farouk (Oded Fehr), although inevitably conspiracies will suggest a Bigger Bad above.  (I’d keep an eye out for John Larroquette, as the apparently affable backer of Danny’s missions.)  Lexi and Danny are given purportedly humorous sidekicks in the form of Alden Shaw (Michael James Shaw) and the heavily Noo Yawkish Vatican priest Father Mike (Mark Gagliardi).

All of this, of course, merely serves as the excuse for action sequences, as a motorcycling Lexi chases a truck loaded with evildoers, oxygen is drained from a room with Danny and Alden (the only air is in a non-Cleo sarcophagus), shootouts occur every few minutes, and so on.  These are presented well enough (the opening hour was directed by Michael Dinner and its follow-up by Alrick Riley) without being in any way memorable or distinctive.  The show is shot in Europe, and the supposed globetrotting locations put one in mind of ABC’s recently canceled Whiskey Cavalier, although without that show’s star power or workplace sitcom snappiness.

That’s the defining trait of most summer network dramas, a blandness (usually accompanied by insufficient resources) that keeps their quality a notch below even the canceled shows from the regular season.  Given broadcast Standards and Practices rules, there’s virtually no visible blood in Blood & Treasure, and even less treasure.  These days, with so many other platforms offering home entertainment, the need for such resolutely undemanding content becomes increasingly obscure.


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."