Rabbit Hole

Kiefer Sutherland unveils a new action series which lands unevenly and serves to remind of past pleasures.

Ever since his stellar success in 24, Kiefer Sutherland has pushed to be received by audiences in other shows.

While Touch, The First Lady and (Quibi series) The Fugitive had single seasons, at least Designated Survivor made it to three.

Now he is back in an action role as private espionage agent John Weir in Rabbit Hole, on Paramount+.

Rather than kicking off with explosions and presidential assassinations, Rabbit Hole takes its time to establish the back story of its leading man with flashbacks of a boy whose father was either knee-deep in espionage or paranoid about spies – which ultimately led to his parents’ split and father’s death.

It all amounts to adult John constantly looking over his shoulder in the present, while forging a successful career as a go-to private agent.

One of those on his case is gay, FBI agent Madi (Enid Graham) who follows him on city streets waiting for him to slip up on whatever surreptitious project he is undertaking.

“I know you think that you’re Robin Hood but you’re not,” she warns him.

Aiding John is his small team of merry men and women (including Aussie actress Jorja Cadence) who plot away in a warehouse behind screens that are not CTU, for those of you who remember.

John is also estranged from his own wife and happy to hook up casually with bar patrons such as Hailey (Meta Golding), if convinced they are a plant secretly hired to destroy him. ‘Trust no-one’ as Fox Mulder might suggest…?

The opening episode lurches along until John is finally tasked with a mission (thank god) to frame a high-ranking Treasury official with a corporate CEO, but it’s unclear who is behind this agenda. Nevertheless, the cat-and-mouse framing, executed with clockwork precision like a scene from Sneakers, is good fun. If only it could invest in more of this action.

By episode two, when John reconnects with his dalliance Hailey, their pairing is reaching for some sexual tension / screwball comedy that never quite lands.

Action, flashbacks, comedic touches -it all makes for a pretty uneven drama offering.

Yes, writers John Requa and Glenn Ficarra do drop twists that are so extreme they feel like they are whiteboard writer room ideas to consciously U-turn the audience… as opposed to being organically driven by character. There’s also a tendency for characters to be talking at each other, rather than to each other, and by my calculations flashbacks of John as a boy are about 10 years too junior to match adult Kiefer.

Tense, whispery Sutherland works with ease with material, hell he probably knows the genre better than everybody else around him and while Rabbit Hole has its moments, it’s hard to ignore the feeling that I’d much prefer Jack Bauer to John Weir on my screen.

Rabbit Hole premieres Monday on Paramount+. (Episode 1 9:15pm tonight on 10).

4 Responses

  1. I watched the first two episodes, and the show is entertaining and well paced but has obviously been written with Kiefer’s familiar acting style in mind, but that doesn’t matter, the purpose of the pilot episodes is to grab the viewer and make them want to watch the entire show, which for now Rabbit Hole is doing reasonably well.

  2. Watched the first two episodes on Paramount +…was a tad confused after the first episode but hooked by the end of the second…however will see how it continues

  3. I think it’s best to remember that this show is made for Paramount+ so will become formulaic at some point, it’s what American audiences best understand and like to watch for most TV drama genres. I have not yet seen this show but having watched Kiefer’s standard celebrity Hollywood promo he obviously has some investment in it. I wont be expecting anything unmissable past episode three (if we’re lucky), especially if it has comedic touches. Wow!.

Leave a Reply