4 out of 5
Created by: Matthew Federman and Stephen Scaia
covers season 1
Indiana Jones. National Treasure. Uncharted. You get it.
And Blood and Treasure does too, which is one of its strengths… alongside above average intelligence in its story-design and characterizations, a very wise application of budget, and just being fun, in the way all these world-hopping treasure-hunting flicks / shows tend to be, to greater or lesser extent. But again, B & T gets to be greater, despite zipping through touchpoints from the above mentioned series (and others) with its very, very typical setup, streamlined into first-episode bitesize soundbytes: an ex-FBI archeologist and expert thief are teamed up by a billionaire to rescue the stolen sarcophagus of Cleopatra from an evil terrorist! Are there secret pasts? Double-crosses? Romantic flings? Zealous cops? Heart-of-gold rogues? Yes, all of the above. However, with each check on the list of tropes, Blood & Treasure kind of stands back, and lets its actors fill the spaces instead of straight-out spectacle, allowing the punctuation of chases and scuffles to actually be exciting and not tiresome. Our round-the-world chase for the sarcophagi – and there are world-ending stakes here, of course, for various reasons – does fall into point A to B to C tedium to an extent, with every “We found it!” declaration backed up by some silly new wrinkle that sends us to another country, but here the writers help counter it but sprinkling in enjoyable historical tidbits that form the story’s background, and also to make sure to maintain a baseline of logic for why this thing keeps shifting locations, and how our heroes and villains connect the dots from one place to the next.
Matt Barr is Danny, the ex-Feeb; Sofia Pernas is Lexi, our thief; Oded Fehr as Farouk, the terrorist. John Larroquette pokes his head in here and there as the billionaire – this favorably recalls The Librarians, though B & T leans more toward modern banter in its tone versus that show’s dad-friendly jocularity – and Katia Winter and Michael James Shaw frequently feature as enjoyable serious / silly counterpoints to proceedings.
Character chemistry and peppy pacing are assisted by look and feel extras: the show rather smartly veers away from trying to go the Blockbuster route with its stunts, milking much from close-quarters practicality, and relying on locations for ideas. The show often telegraphs an “if something can go wrong, it will go wrong” sense of escalation, but that’s part of that self-aware formula, and they still navigate us to some truly great bits where you have no idea how so-and-so will survive. Flashbacks are also an important part of things, but we’re not locked in to a per-episode diem; they’re only brought out when needed, allowed to spread out to actually be useful – not just to reveal some last-minute connection or somesuch – and are visually presented in a way that helps to solidify their place in the timeline and geography. The gender balance of B & T is also very satisfying: the tendency here would be to play Lexi as a sexy femme fatale, but she’s an equal throughout, and the duo’s on-again off-again fling is similarly well handled.
Ultimately, none of this equals absolute surprise: it is a rather predictable genre, and you’ll guess at its larger twists way before we get there. B & T’s understanding of all of that keeps it chugging along with a charming smile, though, investing its (and our) time into maintaining a high bar of entertainment-competence and pretty sparkling dialogue throughout.