There’s a widely perpetuated urban legend that’s been floating around for quite some time now: that most or all humans only make use of ten percent of their brains. The myth itself has been busted, but the entertainment factor that we draw from movies that use said premise have yet to end.
“Limitless” is CBS’s spin-off TV series based on the 2011 movie of the same name starring Bradley Cooper which is, in itself, a movie adaptation of Alan Glynn’s techno-thriller novel, “The Dark Fields”. The series takes place in the same continuity as the film adaptation, set four years after the events in the movie, with both utilizing the Myth of Ten Percent. The series’ protagonist, Jake McDorman’s Brian Finch, comes from a background that fans of the movie will recognize. An aspiring musician with dreams of stardom that seem to remain there in the stars, he starts temping at a financial firm where an old friend works. After sharing a cup of coffee that old friend hooks Brian up with a little NZT pick-me-up and is found dead several hours later with Brian as the main suspect. Cue Jennifer Carpenter’s Rebecca Harris, an FBI agent who believes Brian to be innocent and helps in solving the murder case of his friend. Bradley Cooper also reprises his role as Eddie Mora, now a successfully senator running for a second term, but serves as an executive producer on the series as well.
Brian’s journey from a nobody to a somebody plays out almost exactly like Eddie’s did during the movie, which could be argued to be unoriginal, but it seems to fit. What makes Brian stand out a bit more is his dying father which gives solid justification for the reason Brian chooses the path that he does. If he takes NZT, he can help his father. Simple as that. Brian maintains a similar attitude to Eddie – charming and reckless – and maintains the same humorous narration that Bradley Cooper’s character possessed in the movie. In Cooper’s stead, McDorman makes a worthy leading man. Of course, if you’ve seen the movie, the pilot will feel a bit repetitive.
The style of the series remains the same as well, but instead of detracting from the show in this manner, it helps viewers to feel familiar and welcome without pushing away anyone new to the series. The text graphics and imagery all remain similar with non-NZT moments tinted in a cool blue and NZT-laden events shifting to a warm tint of yellow and oranges. These touches really make it seem like we haven’t left the universe the movie built for us.
Don’t fret though! You don’t have to see the movie to understand the TV show since the pilot covers everything you need to know to understand the universe. Fans of the film will appreciate the series as well because of little things like Cooper’s return as Eddie and his connection with Brian which, in turn, sets Brian up as a valuable asset for the FBI. The series is gearing up to be an interesting delve into a somewhat established universe despite seeming like yet another police procedural.
If you can look past the overused trope of only using ten percent of our brains, then you should be able to focus the other ninety percent on “Limitless” which premieres September 22nd and will air Tuesday nights on CBS at 10/9c.