Arts, Features

REVIEW: Netflix’s ‘Pine Gap’ is a dull and sluggish attempt at a thriller

Parker Sawyers stars in the first season of Netflix’s new drama “Pine Gap.” COURTESY OF NETFLIX

If you have never heard of “Pine Gap” before, that’s OK. Netflix certainly did not put too much effort into its marketing campaign.

Shows such as “Pine Gap” would not have been released on the streaming service in its earlier days, back when it wanted to keep up a reputation of being a prestigious channel.

Now, the company has adopted a business model akin to “throw everything out there and see what sticks.” This means that now we will be seeing critically acclaimed dramas such as “Stranger Things” and low-quality, forgettable efforts such as “Pine Gap” on the same service.

“Pine Gap” was originally broadcast in Australia back in October, with Netflix picking up international streaming rights. However, it is hard to imagine the show will get too much more exposure from this, considering how mediocre of a product it is overall.

The plot of “Pine Gap” is centered in the titular location in Australia. More specifically, it focuses on the Pine Gap Australian-American joint intelligence facility that deals with a variety of threats, with the main one in the first episode being a disastrous missile launch.

If the pilot is anything to go off of, “Pine Gap” will be far from a gripping watch.

Right out of the gate, the characters come off as flat and poorly portrayed. Many great shows have started off weak but had at least one engaging character to keep viewers invested. That is not the case here.

Every single main character comes off as nothing more than a cliche cardboard cutout that could be seen on any typical network television series. They are all defined by one or two traits, and it is hard to see how any of them could become standouts, even with more episodes and seasons.

It is so difficult to get invested in any of these people that their conversations and names start to blend together over the course of the episode. It’s all just standard, uninteresting drama with actors who don’t seem like they’re trying.

The plot is about as standard as you would expect. To give the show some credit, the setting of “Pine Gap” is a unique one and could be interesting to American audiences not familiar with the territory. But that is essentially where the reasons to watch it end.

One has to wonder if giving this show an international release on Netflix will do much to enhance its viewership at all, as there is nothing about it that could stand out to viewers in the crowded world of television today.

The fact that this show did not receive much attention at all, even during its original broadcast, is telling. This is yet another Netflix original that has been quickly released with little to no marketing, and it will likely be forgotten just as quickly.

The show’s worst sin is simply that it is boring. There is no point during the first episode that feels anywhere close to engaging.

Those looking for a good espionage thriller would be better off checking out the show “24,” which is a thriller series that follows Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) as he thwarts terrorist plots, which is available via Amazon Prime and is highly entertaining throughout its many seasons.

“Pine Gap” would like to be on the level of that show and appears to take inspiration from it, but nowhere near enough effort is put in to achieve this.

It is highly unfortunate that Netflix is content with adding underwhelming material to their catalogue, but unless the day comes when they are only composed of underwhelming content, viewers can still value the many great shows that they continue to produce.

7 Comments

  1. I found the series gripping, and I wonder if this reviewer needs a lot of action to stay engaged (e.g. “24”). There is a lot going on in this series, and the suspense comes from the economic and political happenings and the way they fit together – all of the possibilities are created in the viewer’s brain.
    Perhaps this reviewer should stick to reviewing reality TV and mindless action series. In these, the viewer is spoon-fed, and doesn’t have to think at all.

  2. I agree whole heatedly with this review; the show was hard to sit through. The characters are boring, and 2-dimensional. The story itself is muddled, and doesn’t really resolve itself at the end. There are some interesting bits, but not enough to keep us coming back.
    We watched four of the six episodes and gave up. I recently went back and watched the sixth one. Can’t say it was really worth it.

  3. So who guessed the traitot??
    Not withstanding its pedantic pacing and lack of stand out acting performances. I found enough technical and spy craft detail to keep me fully engaged and interested.

  4. Seemed to me to be somewhat disjointed. Tell me a story, fine, fracture it to the point that I’m bored, not good.
    Inject meaningless characters just to be fillers, no thanks, this is no Downton Abbey. The shame is it had all the
    right ingredients to be a good story.

  5. SPOILER ALERT: Well, not really a spoiler because I’ve not watched the entire series, only two episodes. Heard enough though to put my money on the female protagonist, Jasmine as the infiltrator. Why? Born in Serbia, parents died in what she called the Kosovo War. Never heard that moniker and I was in Kosovo when bullets were flying. That war was mostly Serb military and especially military visiting terror on the ethnic Albanians in the Serb province of Kosovo, now a nation. The only time the war was taken to Serbs was when NATO bombed Serbia in the spring of 1999. That would be the most likely time her parents were killed, unless the family were part of the ethic Serb minority in the province. Then there’s the scene in which the characters go over the for reasons people betray their country: 1) money, 2) ideology, 3) coercion and 4) ego. Then one of the spymasters says, “Unless it’s a grudge.” As the series, The spy craft is interesting but it is also equal parts soap opera, and that’s drudgery. There also plot turns that test credibility. When Gus unleashes a drone strike, he cites the fact the targets have three SAM missiles, the missiles are close to a conference POTUS is attending and the targets are chattering about traffic and conference access. Later, when he’s demoted, no one is talking about the incriminating chatter anymore. That said, I’ll likely get through the series as it’s only six episodes.

  6. I found this series really interesting for telling of dynamics that aren’t often shown to US audiences – which is anything about real, actual tensions between the US and our allies. Further, if your complaint is pacing, you are missing the primary interest of this show which is examining the human impact of being part of a cutthroat surveillance community. I don’t think this is an earth changing show, but it is thought provoking and was absolutely worth watching for me.

  7. Pine Gap was amazing! You should watch it! Each episode was just brilliant and didn’t disappoint me at all. I cried when I realized I was already on Episode 6. The whole time I didn’t want to miss a single minute. It actually had me squealing in excitement for the next episode. I DEMAND FOR A SEASON 2