Blood & Treasure
Love It Or Leave It? Review
May 21, 2019
On Tuesday, May 21, 2019, CBS launched Blood & Treasure, a new, sexy action adventure series … otherwise known as the PERFECT antidote for the Summertime TV blues.
The thirteen-episode season was created for television by Matthew Federman (Limitless) and Stephen Scaia (Limitless), and stars Matt Barr (Valor; Sleepy Hollow) and Sofia Pernas (The Brave), with a supporting cast of Katia Winter (Hamilton; Sleepy Hollow), Antonio Cupo (La Llorona), James Callis (Castlevania; 12 Monkeys), Michael James Shaw (Limitless), Oded Fehr (The Blacklist; Covert Affairs), and Mark Gagliardi (Star vs. the Forces of Evil).
Read on for our thoughts on the show and whether we think you should Love It Or Leave It!
When a mentor is kidnapped and a priceless Egyptian artifact is stolen, Danny McNamara (Barr), former FBI agent turned antiquities expert, is recruited to find both things. Needing help to solve this mystery, Danny calls in Lexi Vaziri (Pernas), a badass art thief, as intelligent, funny, and resourceful as she is morally ambiguous and down right deadly. The two share a history of romance and tragedy, triggered by a failed attempt to bring a terrorist, Karim Farouk (Fehr), to justice, years before. When Danny & Lexi learn that Farouk is behind the absconded artifact, old wounds resurface and the stakes are heightened.
Federman and Scaia have set out to build a sexy, fast-paced action adventure show for Summertime consumption and, by making it ridiculously fun, have exceeded those expectations by a mile.
Blood & Treasure premiered a few weeks ago and in that time, I’ve read a few hot take reviews. I’m baffled by a lot of the complaints critics have lobbed against the show. That the show is too tropey or trying to be Indiana Jones, seems to completely miss the point of what Blood & Treasure is trying to be. Blood & Treasure not only nods to movies like Indiana Jones, in theme, action, and sweeping adventure music, but directly references these types of films – not only aware of their existence but fully embraces the similarity of the adventure. Let’s be honest, you can’t have Nazi treasure hunting without acknowledging Indiana Jones and the show doesn’t run from this fact. It’s not a copy, it’s not parody, it’s just telling it’s own story in a world where these other pop culture touchstones exist. I LOVE this meta-awareness of Blood & Treasure; it’s one of the things that draws me to the show, week after week.
Last thing on this “similarity” discussion. During a Live Tweet of the 2 hour Pilot, the creators even posted that there were a ton of explicit and implicit nods to adventure movies and dared viewers to identify them. Scaia and Federman want to entertain us and goddamn it, I want to be entertained. So, I say, “bring it on.”
Why should you watch Blood & Treasure? Federman and Scaia have set out to build a sexy, fast-paced action adventure show for Summertime consumption and, by making it ridiculously fun, have exceeded those expectations by a mile. No one is taking themselves too seriously in Blood & Treasure and as a result, the viewers are free to just relax and enjoy the beautiful spectacle unfolding on Tuesday nights.
If I want to furrow my brow and contemplate the horror of humanity and futile nature of it all, I’ll go check out The Handmaid’s Tale and Catch-22. Which, most times, is exactly what I’m looking for (regular readers know I seek out high concept drama). But sometimes, you need a palate cleanser. Blood & Treasure has a fun, easily digestible storyline, punctuated with dynamic action scenes that have lots of pop and sizzle, but remain easy to follow, and it’s all carried with characters that are entertaining to watch, increasingly well-defined, and more than a little easy on the eyes.
Let’s talk about the actors and characters. Pernas and Barr are a great combination with undeniable chemistry. Barr’s Danny is the straight man in the duo, which allows Pernas’ considerable talents to take flight. He’s drawn to her but also, his sensibilities are offended by her
immoral amoral attitudes to achieving their objective. It’s a classic push and pull relationship – we know they’re going to wind up together at some point but the chase is fun while it lasts. Having their flirtatious banter intercut with gun battles, fist fights, and treasure hunting is the delicious meal this show serves up week in and week out. Pernas, in particular, has shone in the first few episodes. A “Lara Croft” type with inexhaustible practical and academic skills, Pernas’ Lexi is the modern badass female protagonist we all want, need, on television today. Nothing flusters her. keeps her from the ever ready quip, or deters her from her mission; she’s cool under fire personified. As far as character development, we are always aware of the effect her father’s death had on Lexi without having to make constant reference to it. Pernas is a gifted actress and embodies this haunted character flawlessly.
On the supporting cast front, Blood & Treasure has introduced a wide array of characters, most of which are not yet fully formed or fleshed out but one in particular deserves special attention. Mark Gagliardi’s Father Chuck is an early breakout favorite. An American priest with a long history with Danny, Father Chuck resides in the Vatican and allows the team to use the Eternal City as a sort of headquarters/jumping off point. In just the first few episodes, Gagliardi has presented Chuck as a funny sidekick-type, an older brother/father figure type for Danny with natural suspicion of Lexi and her questionable motives and behaviors. It’s comedy gold and provides a lot of the show’s comedic breaks, especially after a pulse quickening action sequence. I am looking forward to Father Chuck becoming more involved in the action and giving Gagliardi a bigger spotlight.
A wishlist? I want to see more depth and development for Danny and for our villain, Farouk. Barr’s Danny isn’t yet being used as effectively as he could be and the result is that Lexi’s tremendous personality is taking up a lot of room on the screen. I understand the dynamic that she is the flash in the relationship but I want to know more about Danny and his history so I can appreciate his motivations even more – even Boy Scouts have dark moments in their past. And Oded Fehr is one of the greatest television actors today who never gets the screentime he needs to blow people away. I’ve been a fan of his for years so I desperately want to get more time with Farouk and dive into his motivations and his inner workings.
Last thing, this show is so fucking beautiful. If you’re going to have a serialized drama, even one that is pretty laid back and fun, world building is so so so important. High production values and location shooting really aids in bolstering this aspect of immersing the viewer in the story. Knowing that Blood & Treasure was shot all over Italy and Morocco makes me feel that I am there with Danny and Lexi as they spelunk and treasure hunt. When Father Chuck plays baseball in the streets with the Roman Colosseum behind him, the result is me fist pumping and yelling at my TV that it’s awesome. You don’t realize how important location is until you see a show do it well, and Blood & Treasure has done it very well!
Love It Or Leave It? LOVE IT! Summer TV has a long tradition of engaging television that entertains the viewer without overly taxing the brain or emotions. Blood & Treasure upholds this tradition in the best way possible. Action sequences that elevate your heart rate, mixed with beautiful people being sexy and badass, mixed with genuinely funny humor, all against the gorgeous, sweeping backdrop of the Old World? Yes, please. This is what Blood & Treasure delivers and I.Am.Here.For It! So, come along on a world trotting adventure with me; we’re Live Tweeting the show every week and we are having the best time ever. Do Not Miss Blood & Treasure.
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