Fall TV Preview
Limitless Preview

Fall TV First Impression: Limitless

The broadcast networks have more than 20 shows debuting this fall, including a soaring Supergirl, reborn Heroes, reanimated Muppets and sexy Scream Queens. To help you prep, TVLine is offering First Impressions of the not-for-review pilots.

Next up on our list….

PHOTOS Fall TV Preview: Your Guide to What’s New!

THE SHOW | CBS’ Limitless (Tuesdays at 10/9c, premiering Sept. 22)

THE COMPETITION | NBC’s Best Time Ever With Neil Patrick Harris (new)/Chicago Fire and ABC’s Wicked City (new)

THE CAST | Jake McDorman (Shameless), Jennifer Carpenter (Dexter), Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio (Grimm) and Hill Harper (CSI: NY)

THE SET-UP | In this follow-up to the 2011 movie that starred Bradley Cooper — whose preternaturally blue eyes make an appearance in the TV pilot — McDorman plays Brian Finch, a slacker musician whose potential is not just unfulfilled but never considered, until one day an old friend slips him some NZT, a drug that allows access to “every brain cell.” Boom, Super-Brian!

RELATED Fall TV Grid 2015: What’s on When? And Versus What?

THE FIRST IMPRESSION | Each year, there’s one TV pilot that I drag my heels on watching — can you believe that in 2006, it was Friday Night Lights? — and Limitless fell into that trap this time around. (Never saw the movie, not some Bradley Cooper superfan. Shrug.) But then, about 10 minutes in, there’s a sequence in which NZT-enabled Brian 1) details a “bonus” project he tackled while temping for an investment firm, 2) shrewdly sizes up a supervisor’s career (and romantic) prospects, 3) plays speed chess, against multiple opponents, and 4) offers Limitless Previewmarketing advice to a hot dog vendor. Much more so than the action-y derring-do highlighted in the trailer, that — coupled with Cooper’s cameo, challenging Brian to become “someone who matters” —  sold me on the premise.

McDorman grows on you as an Everyman character, someone who is not inherently special and thus is sufficiently stupefied by his new skills. Carpenter, as an FBI agent who likes Brian for a murder rap, likely won’t have the same layers to play as when she was Dexter‘s Deb, but she pairs well enough with McDormand. Mastrantonio and Harper, as Carpenter’s boss and colleague, don’t get a ton to do in the pilot, while Alias‘ Ron Rifkin is a special bonus as Brian’s dad. Visual effects (e.g. colors saturate when Bri gets an NZT rush) give the concept an added gloss.

THE TVLINE BOTTOM LINE | With Chicago Fire not returning until Oct. 13, NBC will be vulnerable for the first few weeks of the fall, while ABC’s Wicked City will have its own audience to attract. As such, Limitless — maybe even due to those Cooper-centric promos — could gain a decent foothold.

RELATED Read First Impressions for NBC’s The Player, Fox’s The Grinder, ABC’s Quantico, CBS’ Supergirl, NBC’s Blindspot

Watch a trailer for Limitless, then vote in our poll below.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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10 Comments
  1. m3rcnate says:

    Looking forward to the show. I LOVED the movie and i think they showed the pilot at SDCC or something because a LOT of buzz was around this show from SDCC. Can’t wait.

  2. Beckstle says:

    The movie gets old after 15 minutes. I can’t imagine this playing out week after week….

  3. JC says:

    No thanks. I’d rather watch Person Of Interest on my Tuesday nights. I had no interest in the movie and have no interest in ever watching a TV show about Limitless.

  4. N says:

    I loved the movie. Can it be a series?

  5. Bella says:

    I saw the commercial for it on t.v. the other night, and it immediately made me think about Intelligence, which I liked and got canceled. It had Sawyer and Little Red Riding Hood in it. I likely won’t be watching this one. I doubt it can be sustained.

  6. Weezy says:

    I feel like this is one of those shows that could work as a TV concept, but the fact that it’s on CBS makes me think they will go the easy, boring route instead. Either way it’s a pretty stupid message to send. Oh look all you need is this pill to matter….I wonder how many big pharma ads we will see during broadcast lol?

  7. davido says:

    First impression, the lead guy seems bland, and is it just me or his running is kinda dorky? Too bad Cooper can’t do it, he had legit screen presence compared to these actors. When he was on screen, it got way more interesting.

  8. meatwad says:

    I’ve never seen McDorman as leading man material. But the rest of the cast is enough to get me to check out a few episodes.

  9. YAWN, another superhero, this one with a pill.

  10. Mr. Tran K says:

    I’ll give Limitless a try but it looks like it won’t last that long. Never saw the movie but having Bradley Cooper in the TV version is worth watching.