Saturday, September 30, 2006

The Nine - Sept. 30, 2006




The drama of trauma

The Nine explores what happens to ordinary people caught in an extraordinary situation. The result isn’t always a happy one.

By Eric Kohanik

There are at least a dozen new serialized dramas on the tube this fall. And that means it’s going to be awfully difficult for viewers to keep all the stories straight.

If there’s a show that deserves a bit of time and effort, though, it’s the one that is probably the best of the bunch – an oddly titled drama called The Nine.

The solid ensemble piece revolves around nine people who get caught in the middle of a botched bank robbery that turns into a terrifying, 52-hour hostage ordeal. Told mostly in flashback, the series is a tension-filled, complex journey from start to finish.

Producers admit The Nine is a complicated show, but creator and co-executive producer K.J.Steinberg says it was actually spawned by a friend’s real-life experience.

“He was on a horrible date with a girl,” Steinberg recalls. “They were walking home from that date, and a car pulled up, and a guy got out, and he put a gun in their faces, and he said ‘Give me all your money.’

“They did so. The guy pulled the gun out of their faces, got in the car and drove away, just leaving them there, standing, hearts beating furiously.”

When Steinberg heard the story, it intrigued her, but in an unusual way. “The first question I thought to ask was, ‘Are you stillseeing her?’” she recalls. “Because, after you know that people have survived, what you want to know is, ‘God, how did that event affect you?’ And, ‘Did it bond you to this person in a way that you never would have bonded if you hadn’t experienced this brush with death together?’”

It’s those types of questions that The Nine hopes to explore each week. Helping out with that exploration is a top-notch ensemble cast that includes Tim Daly, Chi McBride, Kim Raver, Scott Wolf and John Billingsley.

The ordeal of Steinberg’s friend had an uplifting result. “The moral of the story is, they are getting married,” she explains.

The stories don’t all have such happy endings in The Nine, and that’s what provides fuel for much of the drama.

“I thought that, in some ways, it was almost a 9/11 parable,” reflects Daly, who plays a cop caught in the crisis. “This horrible thing happens and, suddenly, your view of the world – and the way you look at your kids and the way you look at time and your life – is different. Everyone has, in their lives, moments of tragedy. How people respond to it is very interesting.”

Raver, who plays one of the hostages, takes the sentiment to another level. “Also, how you THINK you would respond to it,” she says. “For the characters, it’s going to be an interesting dynamic of ‘What were the decisions that I made inside, and how do I now bring it to my outside life?’ That conflict is what’s going to create some of the drama.”

It also makes the journey so worthwhile.

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