Blood & Treasure (“The Curse of Cleopatra”, Parts 1 and 2)

Season 1 Episodes 1 and 2
Date of airing: May 21, 2019 (CBS)
Nielsen ratings information: 5.620 million viewers, 3.6/7 in Households, 0.6/3 with Adults 18-49, 0.2/2 with Adults 18-34, 1.0/4 with Adults 25-54

This show popped up in one of my feeds, and for some reason I was immediately interested in it. It couldn’t have been because of the cast, since I don’t care about Matt Barr and I don’t know Sofia Pernas. It can’t be because of the premise, since it has already disappointed me with the syndicated RELIC HUNTER, going more for a bore than excitement, besides also going for rewritten history when it could have been for artifacts what SUPERNATURAL was for urban legends during its first couple of seasons. Maybe my attention was rock-hard for BLOOD & TREASURE, because what my heart and soul secretly wants is a sexy and exciting summer series, in case it’s actually raining. And this is no joke: The day I watched this episode, it was in fact raining in my town, so these 84 minutes definitely made things warmer for me. Throughout this two-hour pilot exhibition though I came to realize why I was drawn to the show immediately: While it (thankfully) isn’t just a more hotter and streamlined and action-packed version of RELIC HUNTER, it’s a great mixture of the Indiana Jones franchise and Stephen Sommer’s first THE MUMMY film, which happens to be one of my all-time favorite summer blockbusters. The hunt for artifacts make Danny and Lexi look like the twenty-first century version of Sydney and Nigel; the globe-trotting premise of the show gives it a feeling of being an Indiana Jones TV series in the making; and the look, feel, music and action sort of copy the 1999 THE MUMMY film (and maybe its sequel two years later). And it was always one of my dreams to watch a TV version of Sommers’ THE MUMMY. By the way, why has that never been adapted into a show? Now that Universal pretty much burned their Dark Universe franchise to the ground with the Tom Cruise-led flop, they could try to adapt it for (streaming) television — could be a thought worth developing.

Red-eyed ghosts upgraded their weapons arsenal.

That BLOOD & TREASURE would have some elements of THE MUMMY in it was unexpected though, which means my curiosity for the show was somewhat exceeded while I was watching this episode, and it generally doesn’t happen that my expectations are being exceeded. While it’s allowed to say that BLOOD & TREASURE is nothing really special after the first 84 minutes, the show definitely has some sexy fun and attractive excitement to it, and it ended even better, when the writers made clear that BLOOD & TREASURE is not a RELIC HUNTER clone when it comes to stand-alone stories about artifact hunts, but in fact a serialized terrorist hunt thriller, making things a little more interesting in hindsight. Which I’m thankful for, because you don’t use Oded Fehr for an episode-long storyline only. You either have him turn out to be the secret hero, or he is the villain all the way, for more than just two hours.

Of course, the premise for the series premiere wasn’t anything too exciting or groundbreaking, as it was only a plot device to get the characters to Egypt and Rome and the Vatican (with pitstops in Switzerland and a few flashback scenes to Paris and New York City), and to get Danny and Lexi as close as possible, so they can get the sexual tension rolling again, and most of the show will be about them bickering at each other for certain things done wrongly or perfectly, instead of hunting down a terrorist who moonlights as a treasure hunter, because apparently this is how terrorism pays itself these days. Judging by the unimaginable worth of Cleopatra’s sarcophagus, you could do more than just finance a terror plot, you could pretty much buy your own country, which I guess is not at all better than trying to blow up stuff and kill innocent people. With BLOOD & TREASURE being a serialized adventure trip though, there is a chance that Farouk, being a main player in the story, will get character depth as well, and he isn’t just a mean terrorist on the run from all agencies in the world. He shouldn’t just be the bad guy with a connection to both of the central characters’ past (that being said, how is it that Farouk doesn’t know Lexi, when it was him who killed her father? Except of course it wasn’t Farouk who killed her father…), he should have a driving character arc as well. Slick adventure fun doesn’t necessarily need to have the conflicted villain with a dark past needing attention through flashback scenes, but it would make the show better in hindsight, and it would take minutes from the show away for character scenes, when it would have been used for meaningless and repetitive banter or action, let alone plot lines that don’t make sense or seem filler in hindsight. Sort of like Danny and Lexi’s trip to the Vatican in this episode — it didn’t seem necessary and it only put additional minutes to the running time, probably because the second half of the episode came in below the average page count during writing.

In this series universe, stuff likes to blow up and kill people.

This episode did manage to build an exciting universe though, and I am interested to know whether it will be expanded over time. The flashback to the heist in 1942 can’t be the only instance in this show’s archeological history during which an artifact has been stolen, and the time Danny and Lexi spent between her arrest in Paris and her father’s death in New York can’t be the only points of interest in their relationship. Besides that, more exotic landscapes need to be visited throughout the story, and some of them can only be introduced with another back story accompanied by a flashback scene, whether it fits into a story or is just another side plot adding up to fill an hour of television. In this case I don’t even mind if some of the show is filler, as it’s already the better version of RELIC HUNTER I really wanted to see back when the Tia Carrere-led show premiered. Hell, BLOOD & TREASURE doesn’t even have a phone receptionist sitting at home, who is considered a regular character of the show, only having screentime during the beginning and closing seconds of an episode, and that is already a vast improvement.

A trip to a sarcophagus makes friends out of enemies.

The episode also managed to be as convenient as possible, when it comes to certain moments of storytelling. Not only did Dr. Ana Castillo have perfect reception in the pyramid, after she entered Cleopatra and Anthony’s tomb, but I would love to know if it is in fact possible to live inside a sarcophagus and use its oxygen bubble, in case the surroundings turn into a vacuum for a minute or two. I get that neatly and tightly placed rock can create a vacuum, especially inside places that haven’t seen sunlight in many decades or centuries, but I never believed that a plate of rock covering a sarcophagus was enough to not let oxygen escape out of that sarcophagus and have Dwight, Danny and Dr. Castillo survive the short amount of oxygen-less environment. Besides that, Interpol blows up a pretty secretive black market bazaar with a huge shootout, and apparently only the bad guys get killed. And Danny and Lexi had all the time in the world to get out of their handcuffs, strap on one parachute and jump out of a plane that was supposed to land anyway. And let’s not forget that someone stole Cleopatra’s tomb 77 years ago, and we only noticed it “today.” Yeah, those 84 minutes certainly had a bunch of conveniences, but those didn’t hinder me having fun watching Danny and Lexi get together and hunt down a terrorist while also dealing with their sexual chemistry. There might not be much of that in the show, thanks to Matt Barr’s generic looks and acting abilities (which is why I never saw him as a leading man before), but who knows, maybe the guy can surprise me after a short while. Andy Whitfield wasn’t spectacular as Spartacus in the first two episodes of SPARTACUS: BLOOD AND SAND either, but then that show turned around nicely and became a spectacle, and with it Whitfield’s portrayal of the character. Not that I’m about to compare the late Andy Whitfield with Matt Barr, but hey, miracles can still happen.

The darker the secret room is, the more mysterious its only light sources are.

Best part of the episode: The two hours had some nice imagery, but the beginning took the cake already: Four creepy pairs of red eyes popped up on screen, and then the green target lasers added to the tension. Opening a new show with an impressive shot I will remember for a few days is always a good thing.
Worst part of the episode: As I already mentioned, the detour to the Vatican felt like filler all the way. Those scenes could have been cut in favor of giving one of the characters more time to develop depth, like Farouk.
Weirdest part of the episode: The “Scorpion’s” poison literally just poisoned its victims and didn’t kill them? What was so hard about putting actual murderous poison inside Dwight’s drink and kill him that way? By the way, what am I supposed to call Dwight now? Dwight, which is his real name, or Shaw, which is his assumed name, which everyone called him by?
Player of the episode: If this weren’t a summer show on a broadcast network, which might not be recognized or seen by a potential audience as something interesting to follow, then maybe Sofia Permas could be the breakout star of BLOOD & TREASURE. She was excellent in the opening two hours (of course the directors had to focus on her cleavage a few times), but because the show will most likely not be a success on CBS, it means Permas won’t be a breakout star to replace any aging action heroine currently in business.

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