PREVIOUS, 10:56 AM: The debut of new NBC Russian spy drama Allegiance enjoyed an unexpected tie-in last week when the Department of Justice announced the arrest of an alleged Russian spy posing as a Manhattan banker as part of a Russian spy ring-busting operation. But the Allegiance premiere Thursday now faces unfortunate timing in light of yesterday’s release of a horrific execution video of a Jordanian pilot who was allegedly burnt alive at the hands of ISIS.
The debut episode of Allegiance, slated to air at 10 PM tomorrow, opens with agents of Russia’s SVR spy agency loading an alleged traitor into an oven and burning him alive. In graphic detail for network TV, the execution scene shows him burning up in front of a crowd of SVR onlookers in a darken factory. The violent action is the setup for the series as a dormant Russian spy and her American husband are reactivated to recruit their CIA analyst son into an asset for Russia.
NBC brass are currently evaluating the situation. There is no final decision, but the scene may be left as is with the notion that it unfortunately reflects the current realities in the world. (The pilot episode of Allegiance was filmed a year ago.)
NBC recently was faced with a similar dilemma over the premiere episode for another new drama, State Of Affairs, in which a fictional terrorist organization releases a video of the beheading of a British hostage. That pilot too was filmed before ISIS started releasing videos of hostage beheadings but the timing did raise questions.
The network proceeded with airing the episode, though the producers had toned down the sequence after admitting to wrestling with NBC and themselves over how to handle the issue.