Limitless Premiere: Did CBS' New Drama Blow Your Damn Mind?

If you’re a glass-half-empty type, then Brian Finch, the protagonist of CBS’ new drama series Limitless, comes out of Tuesday night’s pilot episode having endured some seriously awful stuff.

Forced to crawl on his belly through New York City subway-system skank. Gobsmacked by the murder of an old pal with whom he just reconnected. Possibly addicted to a new and incredibly potent drug. Perhaps worst of all? Finished with a temp job that was supposed to last two weeks — but only took two hours.

But as I sit here swirling my glass, the Sauv Blanc swooshes three-quarters of the way to the rim — and Jake McDorman’s protagonist appears to be having the best week ever.

Dude’s got access to the same wonder-drug (NZT) that unlocked every hidden pathway and illuminated every tiny bit of knowledge in Bradley Cooper’s brain in the big-screen thriller Limitless.

106267-472bIt’s the little clear pill that allows 28-year-old Brian to: Diagnose his gravely ill father’s rare disease; zip across multiple lanes of traffic like the world’s foremost expert in Frogger; bolster the career prospects for an under-appreciated (and very pretty) future CEO; master the guitar like he’s a shoo-in on America’s Next Top Clapton; and land a consultancy with the FBI (and a secret pact with Cooper’s Senator Edward Morra that’ll keep his bloodstream as full of NZT as Wendy Williams is flush with gossip).

The horror of a close encounter with pizza rat aside, Brian’s Limitless Pilot Adventure is a whole lot of fun — even if it sets up a procedural construct that’ll probably be less ambitious than its “Whoa. Whoa! WHOA!” movie cousin. But enough speculation — let’s pithily recap the action.

* The hour kicks off with our protagonist getting chased through Manhattan by FBI agents — a sequence that ends with him jumping casually onto a subway track and grinning as it bears down on him. We learn via flashback that aspiring musician Brian feels stalled as his family and friends mature and their lives take root — a fear that is exacerbated when his father (Cooper’s onetime Alias cohort Ron Rifkin) collapses with a mysterious ailment. Brian runs into his old bandmate Eli at the aforementioned temp job, and the now high-flying banker offers him a tab of NZT to “jump start” him out of his rut. First order of business: Crushing the filing job (and helping his downtrodden supervisor by sorting the entire bank staff’s files into five tiers of potential risk); becoming a world-class guitar player; and diagnosing his dad with hemochromatosis.

106270_D0707b* Unfortunately, when Brian goes back to Eli for a second tablet, he finds his friend dead — and also finds his NZT stash — just as the FBI arrives. We end up back on the Subway platform where agent Rebecca Harris (Dexter‘s Jennifer Carpenter) looks into his eyes — and decides not to shoot, paving the way for his grand escape. Rebecca and her partner learn learn why their boss was looking for Eli — the deceased banker was exhibiting the cognitive enhancements of NZT (without the rapid aging and eventual death that happened in the agency’s field tests). Rebecca begins to believe Brian is innocent — and after guiding him over the phone through patching up a bullet wound, teams up with him to put the real bad guy (another smug Wall Street type) behind bars.

106267-3015b* But first, a side note: When Brian wakes up from his bullet wound, he finds Cooper’s Sen. Morra there, explaining that he’s got access to an injectable cyclical enzyme system (or something) that will allow Brian to take NZT every day with no side effects. It’s exactly what catapulted Morra from slacker wannabe writer to possible presidential candidate in just four years’ time. “You’re on the verge of having a life most people can’t begin to imagine,” Mora promises — before telling Brian he’ll have to be his eyes and ears with the FBI if he wants the arrangement to continue. Oh, and if Brian whispers a word of their meeting, “I will let you die more painfully and slowly than you can fathom,” Morra adds. Yikes!

* Sure enough, Rebecca offers Brian a spot on her task force — turns out, her former-addict dad was on NZT the day he died, and she figures if the FBI wants to monitor Brian’s immunity to the drug’s side effects, they might as well put his skills to use. He agrees — as long as she can get his dad to the top of the liver-transplant list. And she’s got a requirement of her own — one that could prove impossible for Brian to maintain (without breaking his bond to Morra): “Just don’t lie to me — ever.”

Somehow, I’m thinking Brian’s day-to-day involvement with Rebecca will make him more loyal to her — but the NZT in his system will probably dictate his loyalty to Morra, no? But enough from me.

What did you think of the Limitless series premiere? Grade the episode in our poll below, then hit the comments to back up your choice!

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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65 Comments
  1. Julio says:

    I never saw the movie so this was all new to me. I absolutely loved. Thought it was a great pilot and did a great job to make it interesting without needing to know the background material. Definitely adding to my DVR queue.

  2. The fact that I am bothering to give this show a shot, just proves that there is not a damn thing to watch in that slot on tuesdays. Maybe I can get them to move one of the 3 monday shows I like in the same slot to tonight instead

  3. Mrs. Tran K says:

    Kind of all over the place

    • Patrick says:

      Agree, but 1 hour pilots for shows with open ended mythologies are hard. Its a lot to pack in to one ep. That said, I loved it. I’m not crazy about the female lead, Jenifer Carpenter. She was great in her role, no doubt. But there was zero chemistry between her and the male lead. I’d love for the creators to not put the two leads together. Heck, they might turn into adversaries of a sort by the end of the show. But any romantic relationship might not work.

  4. rafael_ says:

    great show!! looking forward for the next episode!!

  5. ScottJ says:

    Good natured and goofy. I loved it.

  6. Better superheroing through drugs. All the cool heroes use them. Captain America, Hourman.

  7. JC says:

    It couldn’t even come close to the amazing Person Of Interest.

  8. BrightLight says:

    Having not seen the movie, I went into this expecting to hate it as much as I did Minority Report (a movie I hadn’t seen either) and was amazed at how much I loved it. I kind of which I had waited to watch it so I could just binge watch a few episodes without having to wait a week. A few times it reminded me of “Fringe” and not just because Blair Brown was there, so you got me again, K/O!
    Also I noticed while watching “Blindspot” last night and “Limitless” tonight that both episodes had one of their main characters describe the other main character as a great resource for the FBI. The question remains which of the two is more valuable: Jane Doe or Brian Finch.

    • smartysenior says:

      What a difference good acting makes! Minority’s two leads were perfectly awful, these guys all clicked on every cylinder. Same general idea, totally different vibes.

  9. Marshall says:

    I was expecting Person of Interest to be on, instead I get this. Person of Interest is a million times better. Bring back POI and cancel this garbage!

  10. mike says:

    I will be be tuning back in nextweek

  11. c-mo says:

    I enjoyed it more than I thought I would although part of it might have been the hottie, Jake McDorman. I will watch next week!

  12. sladewilson says:

    It was better than I thought it would be. Cooper’s cameo was drop perfect. The premise set up real nice. I’ll be checking it out….

  13. Eliza says:

    I’m a big Greek fan and love Jake McDorman. So, I knew I would be watching this show no matter what. But I did end up really enjoying it. I hoping the same for fellow Greek alum Scott Michael Foster’s new show.

  14. theschnauzers says:

    Of all the new fall dramas on the broadcast nets, this was the one that i holf the most hope for, just like The Flash last year. And I was not disappointed at all. And I had faith that the executive producer, one Bradley Cooper, could deliver, just as he has in everything he;s been in since “Jack and Bobby.” They managed to set up the series in a way that makes sense and feeds o the moovie and its storyline. That’s easier said than done.

    As to POI, it will air its 13 episode season in the late winter-spring; I’m just hoping that it will get a second life and get renewed after that set of episodes. I think Limitless has the best shot of renewal of all the new CBS dramas this fall, I;m not impressed by what I’ve seen of the others, and I’m not expecting to watch them.

    • John Lazzaro says:

      I thought blindspot was good on nbc but of the new shows I’ve seen so far this has to be the best I’ve seen. Agree with one of the earlier comments with how perfectly used Bradley Cooper was. Best new show of the fall so far. Very well done.

  15. Sandy says:

    I liked it

  16. MP says:

    This has been the show I’ve been most looking forward to seeing and I was not disappointed. I loved the movie, loved the show and am interested to see where it goes. I also enjoyed Bradley Cooper’s guest spot. I guess it’s too much to ask that he’ll come back again. But it would be nice.

  17. Joe V says:

    Loved the movie, so I am slightly biased. Overall, I believe this show to be a hit…yes its about a drug, but it turns the user’s brain power into the highest, functioning power…wish we all had…sigh..

  18. Joey Padron says:

    I really liked pilot episode a lot, it’s great. Jake is great as Brian. Bradley’s cameo was good. Looking forward to watch more new episodes of the show! Happy Jake is back on TV again!

  19. wcarino03 says:

    Never saw the movie but I loved it! Came into it with an open mind. Not sure about Hill Harper though.

  20. Mr. Tran K says:

    I give Limitless a B. The first 18 minutes blew my mind but the rest was good even though I never saw the movie (TRUST ME) and then out of there, Bradley freakin’ Cooper. The chemistry between Jake McDorman and Jennifer Carpenter may work out in the coming weeks and I don’t know if it’s going to be a hit or miss for CBS. This would be even better than Intelligence (remember that show?).

    • Mr. Tran K says:

      OOPS!! Made a mistake on the “out of there” part. Re-type: and then out of NOWHERE, Bradley freakin’ Cooper. My apologies.

  21. I liked it a lot. one of the better pilots of the season imo.

  22. Murica! says:

    I would have rather watched the POI season premiere. I still can’t believe CBS decided to reduce POI to a 13 episode mid-season show. Shame on you CBS!

    Limitless the movie was crap and so is this show. I hope this crap show is cancelled soon.

    • tvjunkie says:

      POI is an expensive show with declining ratings. No matter how good a show is things like this happen when not enough people watch. Networks arent in the business of trying to lose money. Be glad they’re giving it a 13 episode shot at trying to grow the viewership again instead of outright cancelling it.

  23. Missy says:

    I kept thinking of the movie Lucy.

    • tvjunkie says:

      Lucy came out after the Limitless movie, but the basic plot, drug up and become super smart is the same in both. However, Lucy’s ending was very, very bad. I mean we’re talking worse than Lost ending bad. The Limitless movie had a pretty solid ending while leaving it open ended enough to do a sequel or in this case a TV show that continues the story.

  24. Eran says:

    I see potential for a ‘Forever’ type dynamic, albeit with a darker twist, developing between the two leads. As far as pilots go, I will not remember it in six months’ time whether the show is still on the air or not, but I was entertained enough to want to further explore it.

  25. Jenna says:

    I liked it, not loved it. Blindspot was a better pilot, IMO, but I’ll definitely be tuning in for more.

  26. Herb Greenebaum says:

    Well acted, big screen-level special effects, and engaging enough storyline that I want to see more. Cooper’s being a part of the show makes it a more believable sequel /extension of the film. Could do without too many more two-person first-person soliloquies.

  27. John says:

    This was all over the place. Bring back POI for a full season and cancel this waste of time

  28. Matt says:

    It was watchable, but has some plot issues. An FBI agent implies it’s normal policy to shoot unarmed, fleeing suspects, and wonders why another agent didn’t do so. What the heck is the FBI doing as first on scene at a murder they had no reason to think was related to a wonder drug they were interested in? Knowing the protagonist is immune to the drug side effects after a mere two or three doses just by looking at them, after saying it takes a year of use to lead to deadly side effects?

    • tecwzrd says:

      Agree with the plot holes. Additionaly it doesn’t matter how smart you are at physics, without knowing the variables of the train he still wouldn’t have been able to calculate when it would stop. Also why not just call the FBI regarding the safety deposit box instead of staging a hold up. still looks interesting but I hope they stick to actual possibilities versus pseudoscience.

  29. LaLa says:

    This was so fun! Definitely a keeper, and in the running to be my favorite newbie for this season.

  30. Kris says:

    I wasn’t a fan of the movie, thought it was just ok but i liked the tv series! Will definitely be tuning in next week…

  31. John NYC says:

    I’ll keep tuning in but it’s on the fence, as time goes on the prospect of more of it gets less and less compelling for some reason….

  32. Allison says:

    Wow, I never saw the movie so this was a pleasant surprise! I didn’t even know there was a movie so I raised my eyebrows when I read the words big screen thriller. Anyway, Bradley Copper’s beautiful blue eyes light up any screen. I first saw him on Alias and thought he was the most beautiful creature ever. So seeing him again on Limitless made my heart skip a beat. It was nice to see Ron Rifkin again. Every time I see him I think of the bad guy in Alias or the sweet brother in Brothers & Sisters. I still confused Hill Harper with Michael Ealy. I had to look into the eyes to tell the difference. I really enjoyed this show. I will definitely watch it live every Tuesday at 10 p.m. Awesome premiere!

    • Angelica says:

      Allison, so with you as also feel Bradley is the most beautiful creature and tuned in to see what he’d done here. High marks so I’ll alot this show to my limited tv time. Go Will go! congrats.

  33. Gerald says:

    Totally on board. Jake McDorman is perfectly cast. Curious to see if it turns into a basic procedural show like every other on television now that the brilliant guy is working with the FBI.
    But I liked this better than Blindspot if I had to choose.

  34. BostonGreekGirl says:

    Loved it and cant wait to see what happens next.

  35. Fern says:

    There is enough freaky out there already -don’t need more bad dreams–no wonder all this weird stuff is going with people.

  36. Jeff says:

    reminds me a little bit like the Mentalist, in its own way!!!

  37. JM says:

    Saw the movie and loved the show. Never seen the lead guy before, but he is really good. Loved seeing Bradley, and I absolutely loved the aging of his face scene–so cool. I agree with the poster who said that he/she hopes that the two leads don’t get together. I’d rather see a brother/sister combative dynamic.

  38. I really enjoyed the pilot, it was unique to most things on TV and kept me watching throughout the whole episode! I look forward to seeing where it goes.

  39. Brian says:

    Did anyone notice FINCH!!! As in Harold finch. Person of interest crossover. Awesome potential

  40. kate says:

    I gave it a shot because lots of good actors are in this one. The lead however is so-so. The episode was only ok, but I will watch the next few before making the final decision.

  41. Erin says:

    How did the agent know he’d been shot in the leg – he never said where he had been shot????

  42. Theresa Jacobs says:

    The was entertaining for sure. And the characters were good. But I am concerned about the message to young people. Here you have a good guy that has no ambition and is pretty much a failure. His old friend talks him into taking a drug. His friend says it will make him feel better and accomplish whatever he wants. He takes the drug and long story short. He becomes smart and super successful and even saves his dad in the process. I hate to point this out but it’s little more than an endorsement to take illegal drugs. Drug addiction has become an epidemic in this country in recent years. My daughter died from it in 2013. Drugs are everywhere now. This show seems to be trying to make it even more acceptable. Consider what you are doing. Theresa Jacobs

  43. D Sinclair says:

    Pretty good. Definitely watch more episodes.

  44. GOB says:

    I genuinely wanted to like it. But these “use more brain” premises are played out. I just couldn’t suspend my disbelief.

  45. Omar says:

    they took a good movie and turn it to one of the worst shows this year, just another detective show.

    choose bad actors and twisted the story to become like CSI.

    BIG FAIL!!!

  46. Cherryrebecca50@yahoo.com says:

    I love this series. Brian is an amazing character. And loving having Jennifer Carpenter. It was recognising her from the series Dexter that I found this series. Everyone on this show can act their buttz off. Thanks