Written By: Paul T. Scheuring
Draft Date: January 20, 2009
Category: Thumbs Down
As we're far more rapidly approaching May upfronts (and NBC's May infront) than I seem to be doing these reviews, I'm going to try to keep more brief when I don't feel like I have anything particularly interesting to say.
Brought to us by the man who created (but doesn't run) Prison Break, Masterwork is the illegitimate clone/bastard-child of The DaVinci Code and National Treasure (which was already a clone of TDVC, itself). World-hopping, art-recovering FBI agent Marcus Vanderwold and his protege Sean Fetters are starting on track of a "whale" in the art-recovery world not because of the particular historical value of the statue they're tasked to recover but because of some Massively Ominously Worded Prophecy Or Some Such that says that "The statue itself is just the beginning. It leads to power. To that thing beneath the Temple of Solomon. Which in turn leads to the Greatest Power" (or, summarized as King Solomon's Treasure, a great, mythical, lost fortune that could turn the economic tides of the world depending on who finds is... yay!)
I don't trust the TV series and its clues to be as impressively researched and enthralling as, say, Angels & Demons (a far better book than TDVC, and I'm eager to see the film which should also be better). But, well, that's the series goal for you.
In the meantime, you have a kind of buddy-cop dramedy being played between Marcus and Fetters (who kind of disappears in the second half of the script when Marcus becomes more entanged with his MI-5 rival, Mo Murphy). The rivalry between Marcus and romantic interest / MI-5 agent also in the art-recovery business, provides some predictable turns and double-crosses that could be masked if we really buy into their love-hate relationship, and it may show up on screen, but it fizzled for me on the page. Of course, there are religious figures involved, and conspiracies aplenty.
I just feel like I've seen it / read it before and seen it / read it done better (and in books and movies where you're allowed to open and shut a story, whereas in TV you have to figure out how to extend it for seasons and seasons without people losing interest... oh, wait, I already have?) It seems like the kind of intrinsically heavily serialized show that the networks are starting to shy away from, except in rare, special cases (i.e. Flash Forward). I'm not excited and I don't hear great buzz on this project, but you never really know until you see the final cut.