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'The Wanted' wants terrorists. 'The Wanted' also wants your love. Make up your minds, boys.

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Congratulations if the journalists and covert operatives in The Wanted ever bring some real-life terrorists to justice. That doesn’t mean we have to watch them, though, does it? Because based on its premiere, The Wanted is the corniest, most melodramatic series this side of Grey’s Anatomy.

The news/reality-TV show’s incessantly talking-head, Adam Ciralsky, described tracking Mullah Krekar, the founder of the militant group Ansar al-Islam, as “a race against the clock.” Ciralsky gathered some sincere “elite operatives,” including a Navy SEAL and a Green Beret, to “surveille” Krekar, now living in Oslo, Norway, under the safe haven of that country’s government. For the purposes of The Wanted‘s wanted drama, we spent many minutes in a steamy van stakeout, watching the watchers watch Krekar’s apartment building.

Why? Later in the hour, Krekar readily agreed to talk on camera, so there was no need for all that spy stuff other than letting us see how well The Wanted learned lessons from movies like the Bourne franchise: quick cuts, shaking cameras, zooming in and out of focus — ooh, excitement!

Not really. Nausea is more like it. Krekar spouted a lot of vile, sick-making nonsense about the nobility of killing anyone who doesn’t think Osama bin Laden is a hero. The Wanted wants Krekar taken back to Iraq, where he’d stand trial, we were told, and not be killed or tortured beforehand. Then Ciralsky took his camera crew to a bunch of Norwegian bureaucrats and badgered them about laws on the books that make it difficult to extradite scummy guys like Krekar.

Look, Krekar would seem to deserve nothing but contempt and grave punishment if half of what The Wanted accuses him of is true. It’s just that the hour was pumped up with such false suspense (that pointless surveillance), ridiculous narration (“It’s crunch-time!”), an even-more-ridiculous hard-rock-guitar soundtrack, plus the old 60 Minutes trick of putting a camera in front of one gullible bureaucrat after another and accusing him or her of impeding the justice and imperative timetable decided upon by… The Wanted.

The Wanted desires to come off all tough and noble, but it spent proportionately too much time showing us footage of Norwegians telling Ciralsky that “it took an American television team” to bring this subject to light, and “thank you very much,” and “you have done what the Norwegian government should have been doing.” The Wanted pats itself on the back very well. What does it need us, an audience, for?

Did you watch The Wanted? What did you think?

Update: Preliminary overnight ratings suggest The Wanted may soon be catching terrorists without the benefit of suitably-awed viewers: The premiere drew fewer viewers in its 10 p.m. time period than ABC’s up-chucky new reality show Dancing In The Dark and a rerun of CSI: Miami.

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