Alert: Missing Persons Unit Review Missing Person Unit” refers to a division of the Philadelphia Police where Nikki (Dania Ramirez) is in charge of a skilled team of officers that specialize in finding victims of kidnapping and abduction.
It’s a topic close to Nikki’s heart because, as was mentioned in the prologue of the first episode, her son Keith was kidnapped when he was 11 years old and was never discovered.
Her marriage to Jason (Scott Caan), who was working as a military contractor overseas when his son was abducted and felt guilty for not being present, gradually fell apart due to this tragedy.
As “Alertpresent-day “‘s timeline begins, Nikki and her new boyfriend Mike (Ryan Broussard) had persuaded Jason to return to the Philly PD and collaborate with them in the MPU.
Perhaps because the unit scarcely registers as different from his non-cop work, Jason has more trouble signing Nikki’s long-overdue divorce papers than he does adjusting to a new job back in the public sector (beyond, of course, its convenient and seemingly instantaneous access to SWAT teams).
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The MPU is treated like a family enterprise by the characters. Although they technically answer the entire department, they are just another private security unit.
The show seems the same way in terms of its ostensibly case-of-the-week format. The first two episodes, provided for review, are titled “Chloe” and “Hugo,” respectively, after a young girl whose father may know more about her kidnapping than he lets on and a man who was kidnapped and tortured by a vengeful mother.
The show purports to follow the team as they find one missing person at a time. These narratives give the episodes a brief sense of urgency.
However, what propels the show is a first-episode twist involving Keith that ensures the plot won’t fade into the background as a “X-Files”-style character motivator.
It’s a clever variation on the cliché of the detectives tormented by an unsolved case from the past (with further twists that recall some other movies, revealing which movies would probably constitute spoilers).
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Because of this, it makes sense that the Keith story would draw attention away from the episode-to-episode kidnappings, which are simultaneously high-urgency (the victim has only an hour to live! ), ridiculous (… because a woman has poisoned her victim with fentanyl, and won’t give him an antidote until he gives her information that he doesn’t have! ), and so full of narrative shortcuts that they ultimately come off as (the team finds out about the fentanyl torture through a sketchy company spying on people through their Smart TVs). This would hardly be the first procedural in which the details are secondary to a more interesting overarching story.
However, the work split in the program feels strange. It still needs to introduce the oddball supporting cast, which includes “holistic” analyst Kemi (Adeola Role) and geeky tech expert C (Petey Gibson), as well as catch us up on Nikki and Jason’s (separate) private lives.
In the second episode, this drama causes the main protagonists to react to a crucial life transition in a perplexingly casual manner.
It’s possible that “Alert” will get over the early-season clunkiness. However, much of the suspense feels overdone thus far; the opening sequence of this show about missing people features Jason… defusing a bomb in Afghanistan.
Ramirez and Caan, who resemble his late father James more than ever, aren’t to blame, but these characters don’t feel real; they feel exaggerated. When you’re eager to get to the good stuff in a fast-paced 44-minute network thriller, it’s not a good sign.
The first episode of “Alert: Missing Persons Unit” airs on January 8 following the NFL on FOX, and the second episode will air on January 9 at 9 p.m. ET/PT.