It used to be that summer was a dreary season of TV reruns, but beginning some time in the late 1999s, shows like CBS's "Survivor" demonstrated that new programming could find an audience in summertime. Reality TV shows soon consumed the fall/spring schedule, but some of the best remain summer shows, like Fox's "So You Think You Can Dance," which somehow manages to license hipper music than "American Idol" does. . . .
Anyway, two summer shows that I've gravitated toward are Spike TV's "The Kill Point" and USA's "Burn Notice."
"The Kill Point" basically fills a good void if you really like serialized TV thrillers like "24" and "Prison Break" -- especially if, like me, you thought that season 6 of "24" was astoundingly bad. "The Kill Point" is about a group of ex-soldiers led by John Leguizamo who carry out a bank robbery that goes awry, and they end up barricading themselves in the bank with employees and customers as hostages. Donnie Walhberg is the Pittsburgh police negotiator sent to resolve the crisis. The way I've described it, it sounds like your generic low budget Hollywood B-movie, but "The Kill Point" does what "24" failed to do last season, which is to take a derivative plot line and supercharge it with strong acting and sharp writing.
First, the "bad guys" in the show are morally ambiguous. They perform battlefield tracheotomy to try to save a wounded FBI agent, and when pushed to threatening to execute a hostage if the electricity isn't restored, Leguizamo agonizes over which hostage to choose. There's something decidedly seductive about how the show manages to induce a bit of Stockholm Syndrome in viewers!
Second, most of the characters on the show are not stupid. Or if they are, like the one bank robber who's more interested in scoring with a young female hostage than in patrolling the bank, other characters call them out for being stupid. Naturally, the police attempt to "breech" the bank, but the bad guys are prepared, but the police also use weapons like grenades at their disposal. Thrillers can sometimes get by on the adrenaline rush, but when the episode ends, it's unsatisfying if you already start thinking, "Hey, wait a minute, why didn't they . . . . ?" I didn't get that feeling with "The Kill Point."
Finally, what must be said as maybe the biggest point in favor of the show is that it's a limited run, 8-episode miniseries. That means we aren't subjected to tangential and silly subplots, as "24" has been wont to do (aka almost anything involving Kim Bauer, especially season 2's infamous mountain lion hunt). "The Kill Point" is lean and driven, and furthermore, you don't have to worry about liking a show, only to see it canceled after, say, three episodes. (CBS -- I'm talking to you about "Smith," although truth be told, I could be talking about Fox as well.)
Unfortunately, I'm late getting this review out -- episode 6 airs this Sunday (8/17) and the 2 hour finale next Sunday. However, Spike is rerunning the episodes periodically, and I think there's a marathon leading up to the series finale.