NETFLIX’S “THE NIGHT AGENT” IS A NETWORK TV SHOW TRYING TOO HARD TO BE A CABLE THRILLER
Written by Tony Schultz on May 11, 2023
When it comes to episodic shows being on streaming services they are typically well received. Writers, directors, and the service has carte blanche to do what they want because it’s a paid service. It’s not surprising to see big name actors and directors involved with a strong fan base online and at the office break room. Netflix is really the place where these shows got their start and have had a slew of hits both with viewers and critics. It wasn’t surprising to see their latest show The Night Agent in the top 10 watch list and seeing a little buzz online. When I first sat down to view it I realized there wasn’t anyone I recognized other than the ever intimidating Robert Patrick as FBI director Hawkins. The rest quickly made me feel like I was watching a familiar style of show.
The story goes like this: Peter Sutherland, played by the extremely earnest Gabriel Basso is an FBI agent that helps prevent an extreme bombing event. He is recruited by the President’s Chief of Staff, Diane Farr (Hong Chou) to join Night Action in the FBI where he answers an emergency phone line. He takes it because he’s looking to clear his family’s name due to his father being accused of being a traitor. The phone that never rings actually does one night with Rose, played by an eternally shocked and vulnerable Luciane Buchanan the witness to a murder and a possible government cover-up. For the first three episodes we’re introduced to several characters and their side stories and how they may intertwine eventually. There is plenty of action and running and shooting as Peter and Rose run from whoever thinks Rose knows too much. Something bad is coming in seven days is the most they really know and in order to find out what and who is behind it requires them to stay alive long enough and figure out who they can trust.
The Night Agent is a nice enough show and starts out intriguing with an interesting premise. The one thing I quickly noticed that, other than the profanity and a few racy scenes that this show could easily have been placed on a Tuesday night on ABC. It just has that feel due to the production style, dialogue, and the fact that Peter and Rose keep ending up in familiar situations with assassins on their tail. It is very formulaic. Even when they get put in a tense situation with a hard drive that needs decryption it has that Tuesday night vibe. If you watch shows on HBO, Amazon Prime, or Netflix that have great acting and epic scenes this show feels very small in comparison. They really want to play with the “big kids” and use swear words and have an interesting if not TMI sex scene between the assassins, but they could easily drop that and slap it on TV and it would have the same impact. Too often the dialogue gets stuck in the rut of who to trust and what their next step should be. I’ve also never seen a show that has required the victim to be caught not dressed properly just to advance the plot. Within two days she has to run for her life in sleepwear. There’s not a lot of humor in the show except for a jump from a window. However, it feels like the weirdest moment to have it. While Peter is this super nice guy you get the feeling that no matter how heroic he is that his aw-shucks-earnest demeanor would make every woman he meets just wants to “be friends”. Chief of Staff Farr can’t seem to be anything other than a straight faced parental figure with nothing there to feel any warmth to. Also, I think the “Rose” count in this show is right up there with DiCapprio spouting it in Titanic. Do they say it every line when they are addressing her? No, but it feels that way. This is a nice enough show and your parents are sure to like it. However, the more discerning viewer will be turned off by or at least become vividly aware of the network television feel and be less interested as the show goes for 10 episodes. There is a small KQ98 affiliated vocal cameo that caught me off-guard. See if you can catch it! While it’s a nice show with a great premise don’t expect it to be on the short list of Emmy nominations or the lips of every 20 something with a social media account. Rather you might hear the wine tasting club your mom started in her she shed bring it up just before they sip on another glass of Merlot.