By John Hanlon
The new CBS drama Blood & Treasure attempts to bring an Indiana Jones-type figure to the small screen but doesn’t know exactly how to tell his story. Moving from location to location, the show struggles to maintain the intrigue and excitement that could make this program stand out.
Matt Barr stars as Danny McNamara, a blood antiquities expert who previously worked for the FBI. When his former mentor Dr. Anna Castillo (Alicia Coppola) goes missing after discovering the long-lost tomb of Antoni and Cleopatra, Danny forges a path to find her. He recruits Lexi Vaziri (Sofia Pernas), a criminal he once investigated, for his mission.
McNamara and Vaziri share a complicated romantic history together and the plot clumsily puts them back together, where they are forced to help find the missing Castillo.
It’s too bad that the series never does anything that interesting with its premise. Instead of focusing on building a unique vision for an action-adventure series, the story stumbles along with one-note characters and complacent dialogue.
When the wealthy Jay Reece (John Larroquette) recruits Danny for this mission, the script offers up unnecessarily bland dialogue. “Anna does not have time for all the red tape,” Reece tells Danny, “she needs you to save her.”
As the pursuit of the missing Castillo gets underway, flashbacks reveal the complicated history between Vaziri and McNamara. Years earlier, McNamara pursued and ultimately arrested Vaziri but then the FBI flipped her in its pursuit of a bigger target. McNamara and the FBI recruited Vaziri to aid in a major sting operation. That operation failed and the target — a terrorist named Karim Farouk (Oded Fehr), who profits from stolen historical artifacts — remains at large.
Like many of the other characters here though, Farouk serves as a generic figure that the show plans to explore in future installments.
Combative partners working begrudgingly alongside each other isn’t a new premise. Earlier this year, ABC’s Whiskey Cavalier introduced another duo who work together despite their conflicting personalities. That show — which also had an international flair to it — had its share of issues but the program had a levity to it as well.
Blood & Treasure doesn’t offer that. This program has its ridiculous moments but the dialogue takes the predicaments and the characters far too seriously.
Many of these figures are introduced as stilted one-dimensional figures and the clunky dialogue oftentimes reminds the audience about who the true heroes of the story are. Throughout the first episode (a two-parter that was available for review), for instance, various characters mention how great the protagonist is. He’s a good-hearted, noble figure who loves rescuing people from trouble.
Even Gwen Karlsson (Katia Winter), an Interpol agent who becomes involved in the main case, notes that “Danny is the most moral and ethical person I ever met.”
The series jams a lot of material into its first episode. In addition to the flashbacks involving the two main characters, there are also flashbacks involving Nazis and the history of Cleopatra and Antoni’s tomb. There’s also the present-day story involving the plan to rescue Dr. Castillo.
All of these scenes could’ve worked together if the characters were given deeper personalities or the show offered a fun escapist tone. Instead, the program is oftentimes as dry as the desert that surrounds some of the action.