TV Review: ‘The Brink’ Has Flaws But Leaves You Wanting More

The US is close to war after the fall of the Pakistani government to a crazed General (Iqbal Theba). With nuclear weapons in his hands the US must figure out how to respond. Alex Talbot (Jack Black) is a low level embassy worker whose ambitions to do more keep getting rejected. Walter Larson (Tim Robbins) is the Secretary of State whose penchant for drinking and women is pretty much tied with his aggressive brand of politics. Zeke Tilson (Pablo Schreiber) is a great fighter pilot with a not so great personal life.

Such is the set-up of HBO’s new political satire show, ‘The Brink’. It is a half-hour comedy that aims to explore three different viewpoints on this rough push towards war. Right away it should be clear that this is a lot of plot to shove into thirty-minutes and it shows. While ‘The Brink’ is entertaining it has a tendency to feel forced and unbalanced due to poor pacing and fast transitions.

The acting in the show is good (Robbins and Black have a tendency to take their respective characters a bit over the top), but the format (i.e. the necessity to jump back and forth between the different viewpoints) really hurts character interactions. Important lines and conversations are had, but there is no time for characters to converse or seemingly relate to each other. Hopefully this won’t always be the case since this has the potential to hinder a lot of future character development.

The pilot, despite all of its flaws, does leave you wanting to watch another episode. It ends on a well-written cliffhanger that is a testament to the quality of writing behind this show. Political satire is not easy to do well, and ‘The Brink’ has set itself up with a difficult plot/storytelling device so it is expected that there will be some learning curve as the show’s creators/writers figure out how to fit all of the pieces together.

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