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Crisis: Gillian Anderson's New High-Concept Series for NBC
By Roth Cornet January 19, 2014

Gillian Anderson turned in a dynamic guest-starring role on NBC's horror series Hannibal last season, one which will carry through to this year. The actress is returning to U.S. network television in a big way, though, with a starring role in NBC's upcoming action-thriller Crisis.

Set to debut in March, Crisis follows the story of the abduction of several children of Washington D.C's most powerful players. Creators Rand Ravich and Far Shariat were joined by cast members Dermot Mulroney, Gillian Anderson, Rachael Taylor, and Lance Gross at today's TCA (Television Critics Association) press tour to discuss what audiences can expect from the 13-episode series.

On The Set-Up & Closure:

The network-described set-up for Crisis is that, "On what should have been an uneventful field trip for the students of Ballard High School, the children of Washington, D.C.'s elite are kidnapped when their bus is ambushed. The teenagers and their chaperones are taken, igniting a national crisis. With some of the country's most powerful parents at the mercy of one vengeful mastermind, the question arises: How far would you go and what would you become to ensure your child's safe return? With so many parents and dignitaries put into play with nowhere to turn and no one to trust, the unthinkable grows from the select families at risk to an entire nation at stake."

One concern that audiences have in terms of high-concept series is that the network and/or producers may be tempted to play a premise out longer than what is necessary or reasonable for the story they're telling. When The Killing failed to close the case at the conclusion of the first season, viewers became incensed.

"We definitely have a hard ending," Ravich said of Crisis. "We have a climactic, satisfying, both emotional and plot, conclusion that leaves a small five percent seed for next year to go back into the world. But we do have an ending this year."

Anderson's Big Return to U.S. Network TV:

Anderson plays Meg Fitch, a high-powered CEO of a multinational IT conglomerate whose daughter is one of the teenagers who is kidnapped in the series. Rachael Taylor plays Anderson's sister Agent Susie Dunn, the FBI agent assigned to the case.

"We've been estranged for 16 years," Anderson says of the sisters. "It's the explosion of this event that kind of brings their dysfunctional relationship into the present, and we get to learn little by little why they have ended up where they have in their estrangement. And also, explore a little bit about the emotional relationship between the two of them and what that stems from. And that's one of the great things about the show, is that you have all the action and the thriller aspect of it, but there are lots of relationships that flow through the whole thing. Whether it's siblings or parents, child or teacher, or romantic relationships that have a very active and compelling emotional life, and this is one of them."

Anderson, who has lived in London for the last several years, was looking for a project in "this side of the world" when Crisis came to her. "This was just one of those scripts that I couldn't stop thinking about," the actress said. "I gave it to my teenager and she couldn't put it down. And so that was it. I started the conversation with Rand and Far about what that might look like living in London and commuting to Chicago, and so the mixture of really good writing, and a good cast coming together, and that potentially being a doable transition kind of convinced me towards it, and I'm excited about it."

"It is very weird being on set and everybody else is wearing FBI jackets and I don't have one on," Anderson quipped.

"My only criterion [in looking for a new project] was quality," Mulroney said, echoing Anderson's sentiments when asked what drew him to the project. "And this was the highest quality that I found." The actor went on to say that he found this to be the most fascinating and complex character that he's had the opportunity to portray. "So I plan to do a great job and have everybody want to watch this show."

The Role of the Teenagers:

None of the adolescent members of the cast were on the panel, but Ravich assures that "the teenagers aren't just the MacGuffin" of the series.

"They come from this highly compressed, highly structured world," the creator elaborated. "All of their parents, all of their clubs, all of their classes are taken away from them, and they are left pretty much on their own. And in this environment, in this bubble, we get to see them for who they truly are when stripped of all their expectations. So that drama on its own is sufficient to run almost an entire show."

Crisis premieres on NBC on Sunday March 16 at 10/9c.

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