Thrillers have always drawn the audiences in. Shows like Mission: Impossible, The Fugitive, Person of Interest and Under the Dome have given viewers a weekly charge of adrenaline. And gladly so.

CBS Television definitely charged the airwaves with Hostages, a high octane, well-crafted show that managed to be as much about family as it was about keeping us on the edge of our seats. If you happened to miss this show or want to relive the experience, you can watch Hostages online.

This was a finite series, established to run only for 15 episodes.

The show centers on Dr. Ellen Sanders and FBI Agent Duncan Carlisle. We met each in separate storylines, quickly seeing who we are dealing with. Sanders is an idealistic, dedicated and prominent Washington, D.C. surgeon who has been thrust into the spotlight after being selected to perform a life-saving procedure on the President of the United States. The Leader of the Free World’s motives aren’t necessarily altruistic, but Sanders is still flustered and honored. It’s yet another gemstone in her idyllic life which includes an adoring husband, two teenagers and a beautiful suburban home.



The first time we see Carlisle, he is involved in a hostage situation. We are immediately introduced to his potential to go off the rails. Armed men are holding a group of civilians hostage. It appears to be a stalemate until Carlisle arrives. His first order is to shoot one of the hostage takers dead. From there he makes short work of the negotiations. In the end, he takes a daring gamble that could have gotten a hostage killed. One of his colleagues asks what if he had been wrong. Carlisle walks away somberly, saying “I wasn’t.”

Later that day, these two diverse worlds collide at the Sanders home. Even as we see the doctor’s life isn’t as ideal as we were originally led to believe, intruders slip into the home and take the family hostage. However, we learn the leader of this takedown is none other than FBI Agent Duncan Carlisle. He informs the doctor that during the following day’s surgery, she is going to assassinate the President. If she doesn’t follow through, her family dies.

From this point, Hostages becomes a maze of twists, double crosses, backstabbing and uncomfortable revelations about marriage, parenting, politics, friendship, loyalty and more. Nothing remains the way it seems for long as every relationship in the show changes and alliances come and twist and go.

This is the kind of show that’s best enjoyed in binges. Watch Hostages online and get the full impact of each nuanced chill.

Cast of Hostages

Hostages is driven by its stellar cast who take their characters beyond the potential archetype a political thriller like this thrives on. Many are television veterans with impressive resumes.

Toni Collette is a Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild and Emmy winner, and Academy Award nominee. She first caught our attention in another psychological thriller, 1999’s classic The Sixth Sense. She played the mother of a young boy who had one of the eeriest talents you could imagine. She put her mark on the television map with United States of Tara, where she played a woman with multiple personalities trying to live a normal family life. As the strong Ellen Sanders, Collette anchors Hostages as a woman trying to do what she always does, maintain control even as the world spins out of it.

Dylan McDermott is a familiar face in television, film and theater. One of his more recent features was Olympus Has Fallen, which coincidentally takes place in the White House. His television credits reads like a what’s-what of highly regarded shows, including Dark Blue, The Practice and American Horror Story. He is an Emmy Award nominee and Golden Globe winner. He manages to make Duncan Carlisle as dangerous as he needs to be, while establishing the humanity behind doing something horrible for all the right reasons.

Tate Donovan is one of the entertainment industry’s most reliable supporting players. His resume includes TV shows like Damages, Glee, Gossip Girl, Nip/Tuck, The O.C., Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Ally McBeal and Friends. You can find him in the films Clean and Sober, Murder at 1600, Dead Bang, The Only Thrill, Good Night, and Good Luck, and Swordfish. Born in New Jersey, Donovan plays Brian Sanders, the not necessarily devoted husband whose secrets don’t help the family or the hostage situation.

James Naughton is President Paul Kincaid. Naughton is a highly respected actor of stage and screen. He’s a two time Tony award winner and a restrained, un-flashy performer, which may explain why Hollywood has preferred to keep him standing in the background helping others look good. His TV series work includes The Cosby Mysteries, Making the Grade, Trauma Center and an endless list of supporting roles. His Kincaid is hiding a world of secrets, even his reasons for selecting Dr. Sanders.

The cast also includes Billy Brown (Sons of Anarchy), Sandrine Holt (Resident Evil: Apocalypse), Mateus Ward (Weeds), Quinn Shepard (Law & Order: Special Victims Unit) and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio (The Abyss).

Inside Hostages

Applauded as one of the best dramas on television at the time, Hostages was created by Rotem Shamir and Omri Givon for Israeli television. Jeffrey Nachmanoff and Alon Aranya developed the show for American audiences. Its 15-episode run premiered on September 23, 2013 and ran through January 6, 2014. The show is unique in that its American version actually premiered before the original – by three weeks. Usually, American broadcasters adapt shows that have already seen great success. In this case though, producers felt the premise was strong enough without waiting to see how foreign audiences reacted. The show went on to win the 2014 People’s Choice Award for Favorite New Television Drama.

As a thriller, Hostages clicks on all cylinders. Fans of political drama, characters that are never what they seem and sudden surprises can watch Hostages online and see why it continues to keep viewers on their toes.