Ryan Murphy’s TV shows always attract top-notch talent, and his new Fox drama 9-1-1 (debuting Wednesday at 9/8c) is no exception, with Connie Britton, Peter Krause and Angela Bassett all signing on to star. But maybe they should’ve taken a closer look at the script first: 9-1-1 is an uninspiring jumble of recycled TV-procedural clichés, leaving its talented actors out to dry. This is what happens when a grade-A cast collides with grade-D writing — avert your eyes.
The series centers on a trio of Los Angeles first responders: 911 operator Abby (Britton), firefighter Bobby (Krause) and cop Athena (Bassett), who work in tandem to save lives when emergencies strike. The pilot mostly focuses on the firehouse, establishing Bobby’s father-son dynamic with Buck (Into the Badlands‘ Oliver Stark), a young hotshot who tends to let his libido interfere with his job. (He gets in trouble for taking the fire engine out to hook up with a girl he met on a dating app.) Underground standout Aisha Hinds also co-stars as Hen, another young firefighter, so this cast is unquestionably stacked.
9-1-1 follows a fairly straightforward procedural formula, tracking these first responders as they tend to various life-and-death situations. The emergency calls are appropriately tense, but also hampered by preposterous twists — the first responders face at least three once-in-a-lifetime calls, all within a day or so of each other — and glaring plot holes. (A girl is nearly strangled to death by her python, yet somehow recovers quickly enough to be making out with Buck in the next scene?) I kept waiting for Murphy and his co-creator Brad Falchuk to throw some interesting wrinkles into the formula… but none ever came.