TV critics did not marvel at NBC doing a CBS-type drama, Mondays at 10 this fall in The Blacklist – they were more interested in ticking off the James Spader drama’s similarities to the feature film The Silence Of The Lambs. But today at TCA they did marvel at CBS doing a highly serialized drama you’d see on NBC, ABC or Fox in the same timeslot. Particularly because the event-drama thriller, Hostages, comes from Jerry Bruckheimer – the high priest of CBS procedural crime dramas. Hostages stars Toni Collette as a surgeon who is ordered to assassinate the President of the United States in order to save her family. Dylan McDermott stars as the chief hostage taker, who insists he has a really good reason for wanting POTUS dead.

“We’re doing 15 [episodes] and hope to get not only two seasons but a lot more. This is not a miniseries,” Bruckheimer said when one TV critic suggested it must be. “We normally like orders of 22” episodes, agreed Bruckheimer’s TV chief Jonathan Littman. “When you’re doing something that is this intense and this much of a thriller it’s hard to bring out 22 [episodes], with repeats and weeks off, and keep up the suspense….The series concept dictates [the format].”

The sizzle reel shown to advertisers at the upfronts in May included a number of scenes not in the pilot and one TV critic this morning wondered if the producers had had to shoot scenes from additional episodes “as proof” to CBS execs that a short-order highly serialized drama series would work on their lineup. Show writer/director/exec producer Jeffrey Nachmanoff acknowledged they shot the additional footage “to show everybody there is a series here.”

“We shot sample scenes of something upcoming, to give the illusion we’d already shot the series, which is mathematically impossible.” These “touchstones,” he said, “separated the show in that part of the process where we were saying to CBS execs they’d like to do something “really different” for that network and that they’d “meet CBS in the middle.”