The influence of TV's "24" was prolific to say the least and in retrospect, who could blame those looking to ape a little from such a successful, initially groundbreaking breath of fresh air. However, like many successes, "24" crumbled under its own weight, specifically its inability to bring anything new to the table, a lesson those borrowing the now tired elements from years after they were fresh should have learned. Sadly, the creators of the UK's "Wired," a 2008 three-part miniseries, didn't understand this lesson and instead of offering viewers an exciting excursion into economic intrigue, offer a bloated milquetoast pseudo-thriller pulling surface details from "24" that anyone watching a commercial for the series could recognize.
In "Wired" Louise Evans (Jodie Whittaker) is a single mom, trying to make ends meek as the employee of a large bank. Introduced to the stylish but sinister Philip Manningham (Laurence Fox) one evening by a friend, Louise and her past indiscretions at her employer are brought to light and what begins as a simple blackmail involving a mundane request, is quickly exposed to be the surface of a much sinister and larger economic conspiracy. In constant fear for the safety of herself and daughter, Louise must rely on Crawford Hill (Toby Stephens), a detective met through a chance encounter to help her not only escape the quickly growing web of deceit, but to put away those who still a threat to her.
The biggest "24" influence on "Wired" (apart from the visual style sans editing gimmicks) is the miniseries' tendency to jump from minor plot thread to minor plot thread, confusing and boring viewers simultaneously with a lot of babbling nonsense and then capping off dull moments with cheap cliffhangers or moments of tension. While in constant motion, "Wired" quickly reveals itself to be running in place, taking far too long to tell a truthfully above-average story that is diluted to passable fluff. Viewers will be challenged to keep track of all the bit players, while trying to get a good handle on the principals who all feel underwritten and are instead painted in broad swatches of stereotypes; Louise is a bubbly loving mother pulled into unfortunate circumstances, Hill is a rebellious peacekeeper with a natural charm and charisma, and the villains, well they are evil and sinister, and in "Wired's" most unforgiving move, eventually very foreign.
I don't often try to read too much into race when it comes to storytelling, especially disposable stuff like "Wired," but the usage of Indians as sinister harbingers of economic doom and threatening physical violence just didn't set well with me. One mid-series speech by a major henchman about his grandfather taking the idea of scalping his enemies from the "other Indians" is not only in poor taste but also poorly written. If the minds behind "Wired" had trimmed a lot of the miniseries' fat (as well as ensuring its main protagonists were actually sympathetic), it would have been a far more engaging, light thriller. Instead, turn after turn, it struggles to fill its 135-minute runtime, settling with an anti-climatic ending and a coda one can see coming a mile away.
The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation features noticeable digital noise and moderate detail. Contrast levels are acceptable, a fortunate plus given the numerous nighttime scenes, while colors are a little on the warm side, but still natural enough. Any additional digital tinkering is non-existent.
The Dolby Digital English Stereo audio track is perfectly serviceable. The few action packed moments put the limitations of the track to the test, but hold up, while the rest of the program features properly balanced, clear dialogue. English subtitles for the hearing impaired are included.
"Wired" is a take it or leave it attempt at brining economic intrigue into the modern thriller mold. Running a good 30-minutes too long, it shows promise, but is ultimately a program you feel like you've seen before but done better. Only Toby Stephens manages to provide viewers with someone to root for, while the series' leading lady squeaks by with sympathy only through the extremity of her circumstance. If the subject matter tickles your fancy or you're a big genre fan, check it out. Rent It.