The Flight Attendant

When Cassie wakes up beside a dead body in a Bangkok hotel, you're in for plenty of turbulence.

Uncaged from The Big Bang Theory, Kaley Cuoco sets her sights on new horizons with The Flight Attendant, produced by Greg Berlanti.

Based on a novel of the same name by Chris Bohjalian, there’s a fetching premise in this tale of an air hostess who wakes up in Bangkok after a one night stand -only to find her casual partner Alex (Michiel Huisman) dead. Adding to the distress, she has no memory of how it happened.

Cassie (Cuoco) is a party girl and her job with Imperial Atlantic has given her license to drink, join the mile high club, and freely bag a man in every port. With all the zippy flair of a ’60s Hitchcock, there are split screens, frenetic music, and comic book credits. Fasten your seatbelts.

But it all comes to a screeching halt one morning in a hotel bed when, as Cassie’s lawyer and friend Annie (Zosia Mamet) reminds, breaking the law in a foreign country can mean years in the legal system. She tries to flee Thailand before the body can be discovered…

Cassie is also very unhinged, leading to flashbacks -or possibly hallucinations- where the corpse / ghost / memory of Alex talks to her about that fateful night. As we shift gears into fantasy Cassie is even able to quiz him for clues, in the hope of clearing her name.

Also featuring are fellow hostess Megan (Rosie Perez), a straight-talking colleague who does what she can to protect her friend, and her gay brother Davey (T. R. Knight), who is forced to largely phone in his brotherly advice, given Cassie’s occupation.

Director Susanna Fogel keeps things moving, Catch Me If You Can style, and pleasingly the show has filmed key scenes in Bangkok, and not merely tried to double with some Hollywood Chinatown backlot. Despite the ghoulish premise there’s a spirited sense of fun, disrupted by waves of turbulence.

Kaley Cuoco handles the material with neurotic ease, though remaining endeared to the character could be directly proportional to her recklessness and a dizzying use of split-screen. I also found the flashbacks / hallucinations diluted the believability of the piece, if managing to open up new twists.

For all its frenzy and potential, I couldn’t help but wonder if this flight might be more enjoyable at a filmic 90 minutes than its 8 episode round trip. But this is a mystery flight worth taking.

9pm Thursday on FOX One / Binge.

4 Responses

  1. It’s based on a mediocre spy novel, narrated in the first person by Cassie, a black-out drunk and therefore supposedly unreliable narrator and the unknown antagonist, whom we’ve only caught a glimpse of. Not a structure that is is easy to make a TV show out of. The hallucinations are how they try to handle this. The flashbacks are Cassie’s back story, being brought up in the middle of nowhere by an alcoholic father.

    They’ve made it a farce and it’s pretty bad. Cuoco is OK playing Penny, with another decade of hard drinking under her belt, but that’s all that is worth watching.

  2. With Greg Berlanti involved in this show there must be more than one season on the agenda.
    Based on the review I would agree that this story is more suited for a limited season release, maybe 3 episodes.
    I’m not a The Big Bang Theory fan, but I will check this show out.

    1. Having now watched a few episodes of the show my original opinion still stands, The Flight Attendant’s plot is more suited as a limited season series with a beginning, middle and end, the retro multi-screen effects are from the 70’s and generally the production feels more last century than present day, the fact this show is getting a second season could eventually turn The Flight Attendant into a typical U.S. made formulaic mess, but that’s what American audiences like.
      Kaley Cuoco is a perfect fit for Cassie, perhaps too perfect, I feel she should diversify her acting portfolio or she could risk being typecast, but I’m sure she’s not too worried, especially if Berlanti keeps this series going for 4-5 years.

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