9-1-1: Season 1/ Episode 1 “Pilot” [Series Premiere] – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)

9-1-1 Season 1 Episode 1 Pilot [Series Premiere] - Title Card
Image Via: Trailer

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9-1-1 Season 1 Episode 1 Pilot [Series Premiere] - Title Card

9-1-1 starts off strong, in terms of the 911 calls, but as for the characters? Well…


Network
Fox
Creator Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk
Director(s) Bradley Buecker
Writer(s) Brad Falchuk, Ryan Murphy
Noted Cast
Abby Connie Britton
Athena Angela Bassett
Buckley Oliver Stark
Bobby Peter Krause
Wilson Aisha Hinds
Han Kenneth Choi
Michael (Athena’s Husband) Rockmond Dunbar

The Introduction

In Los Angeles, 911 operator Abby Clark has two highly stressful parts of her day. The first being, taking care of her mother with Alzheimer’s, and dealing with her late and rude nurse. What closely follows is her job. One in which, in the premiere episode, has her dealing with someone trying to commit suicide, multiple calls which sound like jokes, but one surprisingly isn’t, and then a major one in which she gets to stay on the phone throughout the whole idea.

But I won’t spoil that but instead talk about the people who participate. The first being Officer Athena Grant who is this bad add cop. Well, at least Bassett makes her seem like a bad ass. Yet, like any powerful Black woman on network TV, as good as she is at her job, her personal life is in shambles. Though, there is a little twist to Athena’s issue which could lead to some interesting moments and conversation. Especially since her kids are involved.

Lastly, there is Buckley and Bobby Nash. Bobby, for the first responders/ fire department, is the team lead and a bit of a father figure. He is someone who has just made 18 months sober and his addiction was alcohol. Mostly because, as you can imagine, constantly being first on the scene and not always being able to save people so you can hand them off, it wears a person down.

Hence why he is so hard on the young Buckley who, while arguably good at his job, he also sets himself up a lot. Take for instance using the fire truck in order to find different ways to impress women and have sex with them. But, when he gets in trouble, he pulls that “I have nothing else” card. One which doesn’t impress anyone. However, luckily for him, his co-worker, last name Wilson, provides the kind of opportunity to gives him perhaps one last chance.

Other Noteworthy Facts & Moments

  • Abby is 42 and has been single for over a year.
  • Nash is 50.

Highlights

The 911 Calls

9-1-1 Season 1 Episode 1 Pilot [Series Premiere] - Connie Britton
Connie Britton
With it being the first episode, as you can imagine, seeing this hook worthy calls dealing with a burglary, something you will not believe being in someone’s pipes, and some of the other situations, it makes you wonder what will happen next? Especially when you consider Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk are the creators. Meaning, within the scope of network TV, you can expect political topics, sex scandals, and there probably being very little off limits.

It Has Comedic Moments

Being that the fire station of Bobby is like a second home, it also pushes the idea that these people are family – of the dysfunctional variety. Which leads to, like in one call dealing with a snake, us seeing Han lose his mind. But, it wasn’t just Bobby’s team but even Abby got a joke in the form of a call. Someone calling 911 because their emergency was they were jipped out of some chicken nuggets. Yeah, not every call was something serious.

Angela Bassett’s Character and Family

9-1-1 Season 1 Episode 1 Pilot [Series Premiere] - Rockmond Dunbar
Rockmond Dunbar
As noted in the next topic, a lot of the characters on this show rely on the situations they are put in as a crutch. For, generally, they themselves don’t have much of a hook. However, when it comes to Basset and her character’s husband Michael, we have something there. Now, while it would be nice for a Black woman on network TV to not have a such a dramatic personal life, that is never going to happen. Yet, the drama Athena has been given? It is worth a real-life conversation

And while I want to spoil what Michael’s issue is, since it is almost half a month before the show’s premiere date, let me tell you that I can’t recall, off hand, his problem coming up before and being explored.

Criticism

Most Of The Characters Have No Hook

Abby’s situation with her mom is not that interesting. Bobby being a former addict doesn’t do much for his character and even Buckley being young, dumb, but with potential, seems like something which could get old. Something that I foresee as a potential problem if this show goes past a 10 episode season. For I do believe there will come a point where we build up a tolerance to whatever gets called in and unless, or perhaps until, a main character dies, things will become ho-hum for some time.

Especially since the bar got set pretty high in the premiere. So now each episode, due to the characters being kind of meh, has to compete against the last one to try to come up with realistic, yet still outrageous, situations to draw your attention.

On The Fence

It’s A Ryan Murphy Production

It’s complicated being a fan of Ryan Murphy’s work. For while you must admit the stuff he, often with Brad Falchuk, puts out there has awesome concepts, excellent casting, and generally start off good – the problem is, they all go downhill kind of fast. Which could be for one of two reasons. The first, and optimistic idea, is that with him having at least one project always in progress, it could very well be that once the idea has become a pilot and the show seems to be on cruise control, he goes off and tends to a new baby. Thus leaving the old one in new hands without the vision which the network bought and we found ourselves wanting to invest in.

Or, one a more pessimistic note, it could very well be that Murphy and Falchuk are good at ideas, big openings, but maintaining that ante for a full season, whether that is 10-12 episodes or 20+, is a struggle. Which, as someone who has watched a good amount of their productions since Glee, I honestly feel one of the two are the case and that is what makes me fear for the future of 9-1-1. It is rare for their shows to get better over time, if anything, they are always chasing that pop the first episode, or first season, had.

So while I have very few doubts about this not being a hit, I do wonder what the quality will be towards the end of the season and if this show may actually improve over time. Especially in regards to the majority of the characters who seemingly were given bland backgrounds to coerce some kind of empathy out of viewers. All the while giving us actors and storylines which don’t make those backgrounds pack a punch what so ever.

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About Amari Sali 2801 Articles
New Jersey native Amari Sali takes the approach of more so being a media advisor than a critic to sort of fill in the gap left between casual fans of media and those who review productions for a living. Thus being open about bias while still giving enough insight, often with spoilers, to present whether something is worth seeing, buying, renting, streaming, or checking out at all. An avid writer, Amari hopes to eventually switch from talking about other people's productions to fully working on his own. Such a dream is in progress to becoming reality.